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The ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory of 2016 claimed that Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking US Democratic Party officials were operating a child sex-trafficking ring from a popular pizzeria in Washington, DC. The conspiracy had migrated from internet message boards to the national news when a 28-year-old man wielding a rifle set out to investigate the claims for himself, and ended up firing three shots inside the restaurant before finding nothing suspicious and surrendering to the police. It’s easy to write off the gunman, and anyone else who came to believe ‘Pizzagate’, as gullible, disturbed and severely misguided. But as this short documentary from the UK filmmaker Charlie Lyne argues, the insidious way in which conspiracy theories plant seeds in the human brain is far more complex. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve fallen prey to one or two conspiracies yourself. Shrewd and darkly funny, Personal Truth has been a film festival favourite in 2018, screening at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, AFI Docs and Aspen Shortsfest, among others.
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