‘Her body is her business card’: Sweat director Magnus von Horn on the world of online influencers

The Poland-based Swede’s new film, inspired by a Snapchat fitness motivator, explores the contradictions and freedoms of a social media existence

Magnus von Horn makes a confession few film-makers would admit to: “Some of the things I saw on social media were more moving than what I saw in the cinema.” Cinema and social media are currently the best of enemies: competitors for our precious attention, at opposite ends of a spectrum of cultural prestige, perhaps, but more similar than they would like to admit. Like so many of us, Von Horn admits to spending too much time on his phone but, unlike most of us, he turned his screen addiction into art by turning cinema’s lens on to social media.

Von Horn’s new film Sweat focuses on Sylwia, a driven young Polish “fitness motivator” (played by Magdalena Koleśnik) with some 600,000 followers online. We first find her leading a group workout in a shopping mall, bouncing around in pink Lycra, shouting words of encouragement through her headset: “We can do it!” “I’m diving into your beautiful energy!” “I’m super, super proud of you!” She loves her fans and they love her back. And through her regular online posts, she keeps them not only motivated to be as fit as she is, but abreast of all aspects of her life – making a shake in her kitchen (with her sponsor’s products), unboxing freebies; even carrying her shopping up the stairs is a broadcastable moment.

Related: Sweat review – the loneliness of the social media influencer

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