By Chris Ortman

Disclaimer: CreativeFuture does not encourage physical violence to settle arguments.

Fantastic Fest, the genre film festival held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, has a curious tradition: hosting a series of verbal and physical “debates” that take place inside a boxing ring.

On Saturday, Todd Brown, independent filmmaker and Director of International Programming at Fantastic Fest, answered a challenge from BitTorrent’s Chief Content Officer, Matt Mason, to debate whether or not BitTorrent can be the “savior of independent film” and engage in some glove-to-glove combat.

As CreativeFuture Executive Director Ruth Vitale wrote here, BitTorrent, Inc. developed the peer-to-peer protocol that is used by millions of people to avoid paying for creative works. Recently, the company has been on a charm offensive, trying to convince independent artists to partner with them on distribution – and attempt to build an audience of paying customers.

Independent filmmakers are understandably skeptical. Despite Mason’s apparent sincerity to help indie artists and filmmakers, the company has been reluctant to clearly and definitively condemn the misuse of its protocol for piracy. In the rare event it does, the statement comes from an unnamed spokesperson.

In his pre-fight promo video, Brown summed up the frustration of the creative community: “Matt Mason, you’ve declared BitTorrent ‘the future savior of independent film.’ Well, hooray for you and the fantasy reality – the very self-congratulatory fantasy reality you’re living in. Unfortunately, those of us who are actually making films have to live here in the actual present, where BitTorrent has torn the guts out of independent film.”

Video of the fight has not yet surfaced, but by all accounts – even Brown’s – Mason bested his filmmaking opponent in the ring.

However, the BitTorrent representative did not appear to win over film festival attendees. According to ringside spectators who posted to social media, Mason was met with boos and the free BitTorrent T-shirts he handed out were thrown back in the ring.

CreativeFuture reiterates its call for BitTorrent to publicly condemn the misuse of its protocol and show leadership by focusing its innovative genius on developing tools that would prevent further misuse.

The company’s efforts to build a legitimate business model – and win over artists, filmmakers, and boxing fans everywhere – depend on it.

Below are some highlights from social media. Warning: contains graphic language.


For more about Fantastic Fest, visit