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‘Unclickable,’ About Murky World of Digital Ad Fraud, Acquired by Cat&Docs Ahead of Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Premiere (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based sales outfit Cat&Docs has acquired “Unclickable,” Greek director Babis Makridis’ investigation into the murky world of digital ad fraud, ahead of its world premiere March 10 at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer (see below).

“Unclickable” follows a former tech executive who gathers a team of software developers and sets out to build a digital advertising fraud operation. Working from a basement in an undisclosed location, they manage to defraud a number of high-profile advertisers — including the Trump campaign and a series of pro-Biden organizations — in just a matter of weeks during the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

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As the operation unfolds, the film lifts a lid on the shadowy world of digital advertising and the role played by tech giants Google and Facebook, while also spotlighting the known and lesser-known victims of ad fraud and addressing its impact on the internet economy. Examining its effect on society at large, the film poses the question: Is advertising technology destroying democracy?

“Unclickable” is a Neda Film (Greece), Felony Productions (Cyprus), Building on Bond (Greece) and BuzzFeed Studios (U.S.) production made with the support of the Greek Film Center. It was produced by Amanda Livanou and Guy Krief and co-produced by Stelios Kammitsis. Executive producers are Marco Veremis and Alexios Vratskides.

Here’s an exclusive look at the trailer:

Makridis and screenwriter Guy Krief said they were “thrilled” to have Cat&Docs on board the film, and that “their enthusiasm for our project means the world to us.”

“When we started this project, we already knew the beast we were dealing with,” the duo told Variety. “Setting up a fake ad operation ourselves, we showcased not just how pervasive the issue is, but also its victims — extending beyond the corporate giants to ordinary individuals worldwide.

“However, the most critical aspect we wanted to highlight was its impact on democracy,” they continued. “With the U.S. elections possibly mirroring those from three years ago, at the time we began filming, it underscores the urgency. The complicity of platforms like Google and Facebook, likely due to their own benefits, is particularly alarming. Our documentary seeks to shine a light on this dark corner of the digital world, prompting a discussion on the need for accountability and change.”

“We are very excited to add ‘Unclickable’ to our slate,” added Cat&Docs president and CEO Catherine Le Clef. “It provides a unique angle for stories related to cybersecurity, online fraud and consumer protection. The film serves as a powerful tool to raise awareness among the public and highlight the importance of staying vigilant while navigating the digital landscape.”

Veteran filmmaker Makridis’ debut feature, “L,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and was the first Greek narrative feature ever to compete in Park City. His sophomore effort, “Pity,” also competed at Sundance, where Variety’s Guy Lodge described the “brittle, brutal, bone-dry” and “deader-than-deadpan” black comedy as “elegantly conceived and perversely compelling.” His last film, “Birds (or How to Be One),” premiered in Rotterdam.

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival runs March 7 – 17.

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