Review – ‘Dirty Coin’ Directed by Alana Mediavilla

Written and directed by Alana Mediavilla, Dirty Coin takes audiences into a mining facility in Malawi where renewable energy is being used to run the GPUs used in bitcoin mining.

There has been a simmering debate in recent memory, one that critiques bitcoin on its supposed negative climate impact. For those who don’t know, bitcoin comes into existence by mining and mining refers to running complex algorithms on computers. Whoever solves the algorithm first gets the bitcoin and with some many entities competing to get the premined bitcoin, it wastes a lot of energy. By the mid of this decade, bitcoin mining was taking up energies used by entire small countries and experts feared that if this continued, one day bitcoin might take up all the energy of the entire world.

Thus, there was a rapid push to shift bitcoin mining to renewable energy. With the world reeling from climate change and multiple areas hitting all time highs in temperatures reached, the concerned parties got together to make this a reality. Alana Mediavilla’s documentary goes down the rabbit hole in this regard, taking note of how renewable energy is shifting the entire bitcoin mining landscape.

Written and directed by Alana Mediavilla, Dirty Coin takes audiences into a mining facility in Malawi where renewable energy is being used to run the GPUs used in bitcoin mining. With the facility at the forefront of a revolution in bitcoin mining, the documentary makes it clear that the bitcoin industry has heard the concerns voiced across the world and are rapidly striving to make amends.

Bitcoin has always been a complicated topic for all except the most tech savvy and this documentary does a good enough job to break down the nitty gritty under the hood. For such a complex topic, the documentary rushes like a breeze. The narrative pacing is on point and director Alana Mediavilla ensures that the audience does not feel confused for even a second. The information and exposition is structured in a way that allows even the most novice of viewers to get in on the train and this is, in my opinion, one of the strongest points of the production.

Thus, narratively, the documentary succeeds in what it sets out to do. With interviews from some of the bigger names in the crypto space, the film lays out its details clearly. Equally impressive is the technical side; the documentary looks fantastic. Using peppy animations, the creatives behind the project keep things interesting and make hard to grasp concepts look really easy.

Another great thing that Dirty Coin manages to highlight is the fantastic impact it is having on poor communities across Malawi. Using hydroelectric power deep in the mountains, we see that a small community has surplus electricity and what they do with this surplus is that they mine bitcoin. This not only secures their future financially but also enables them to use the energy that would otherwise have been completely wasted.

Will Dirty Coin be able to change minds and turn the tide? Only time will tell. The spectre of climate change and dirty energy has been haunting the bitcoin industry for quite some time and there has even been some government support in this regard to put further pressure on the industry. Thus, it is clear that the industry makes some concerted effort to fight back against these claims. Dirty Coin might be one of the first steps to do this and the documentary’s clear and concise arguments will sway most Thus, 2024’s Dirty Coin puts perspective on an important narrative point regarding bitcoin.

With so much propaganda put into the masses regarding bitcoin’s ‘supposed’ bad impact on the environment, it is refreshing to see a documentary that gets down to brass tacks and lays the facts as they are. Featuring interviews from some of the most knowledgeable people about the technology, Dirty Coin is an important endeavour and deserves to be seen by both the supporters and naysayers of this revolutionary technology.

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