August 3, 2021

Documentary on Anthony Bordain under attack for using Deepfaking

Roadrunner – A film about Anthony Bordain was one of the most anticipated premieres of the season. The opportunity to understand the life story and mind of one of the most beloved chefs in the world, who committed suicide in 2018, was unique.

The Morgan Neville-directed documentary premiered in June and was officially released on July 16, already shrouded in overwhelming controversy. People close to Bordain identified that Neville used the technique of deepfaking for your 45-second speech. The maracutaia is not announced, neither during the film nor in the credits.

Anthony bordain

First of all: what is deepfaking?

The world hotly discusses the regulation and ethics of the use of deepfaking nowadays. The technique consists of mapping a person’s face and then “planting” a second face, of a celebrity or politician for example, and having that person say things he didn’t say, usually recorded by a voice actor. The realism achieved with the technique increases every day, reaching cases of impossible perception for those who have not been warned that the effect is being used.

Another use of deepfaking, the case of Neville’s documentary, is to plant a speech that had only been recorded in audio in a video recording by Bordain, who was originally saying other thing.

The director’s argument is that the line was important to the script and that he consulted his performer and his widow about Anthony Bordain and that he would have gotten the answer that “we think Bordain wouldn’t mind.”

A strange authorization from Bordain “by table”

Ottavia Busia, Anthony’s ex-wife who remained one of his closest friends until his death, stated that “I’m certainly NOT one of the people who said Bordain wouldn’t mind”, which called into question a kind of “authorization per table” of the protagonist of the documentary.

Sam Burns, film critic for the Boston WBUR, said in an interview with the newspaper The Guardian: “When I wrote my review of the film, the producers didn’t warn me about using artificial intelligence to deepfake Bordain’s voice. I feel this says everything you need to know about the unethical people behind this project.

The controversy, which is just beginning, promises to extend to the courts with the risk of withdrawing the film. Furthermore, it further sparks ethical discussions about the use of this technique.

Your definitions of “documentary” have just been updated.

Jota Wagner

Jota Wagner has been writing, disco, and partying in Brazil and Europe since the early 90s. He is currently editor in chief of Music Non Stop and cultural producer at Agência 55. He has contributed, using his ears, feet or hands, to the dawn of Brazilian electronic music.