In May of 2019 Patricia Franquesa met up with her ex for lunch in a Madrid. Her laptop was stolen from her bag, a common enough and deeply frustrating crime. Another common experience awaited Franquesa: a slow-moving investigation unlikely to end with the return of her stolen property. Then, two months later, Franquesa receives an anonymous email demanding $2,400 be sent to a Bitcoin wallet. The email details that her laptop has been hacked and failure to comply will result in intimate photos of Franquesa being sent to every one of her contacts. My Sextortion Diary serves to show viewers Franquesa’s experience and how frighteningly common crimes like this can be. Most importantly, Franquesa uses her film to fight back, to reclaim a bit of what was stolen from her. 

My Sextortion Diary is only an hour long and primarily covers a few months of Franquesa’s life. But, as the film makes clear, this is not something that can be resolved quickly or completely. There is no such thing as restoring someone’s trust, security, or psyche to pre-victimization levels. The film informs viewers that sextortion is disturbingly common and only getting worse, ranking as one of the most reported crimes.

Franquesa tells her story through onscreen text messages and email exchanges. It’s a clever aesthetic choice that increasingly highlights the inherent isolating nature of her circumstance. Yes, she messages with family and friends for support, but those people can’t help her in any way beyond that. And her emails to investigators are largely fruitless, another online entity exacerbating her anxiety. Franquesa frequently mixes in shots of herself alone in her apartment. These quiet interludes become more resonant as the film progresses. I won’t spoil the film’s resolution, but it features a form of empowerment that is a bit thrilling. But, more than that, it’s upsetting because it’s something that nobody should ever feel like they must do just to restore their own dignity. My Sextortion Diary is an urgent, upsetting documentary that helps make an abstract subject tangible and real.

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