Watched at Sky Olympic as part of HKIFF 2017. April 2017.
There’s a part of me that’s still processing this film – much like how I am still processing the Israel trip last year – because this film (like that trip) reaches far enough down to really make one think.
Surveillance – whether on my physical being (through CCTVs or my phone) or on my thoughts and feelings and dreams (via social media or hacking) – is everywhere. There is a part of me that thinks I’m way too boring for anyone to be interested in following what I am doing or thinking or saying, but on the other hand, who the heck knows.
There was a huge part of me that wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to blog about watching this film. But since I’m doing this mainly to remind myself of things I’ve been doing these days, I suppose I should. (And yes, I am at an age where I don’t actually recall what I’ve been doing say last week or sometimes even yesterday.)
This film is rather more journalistic than Nicholas de Pencier’s other films (Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark), it’s much less reflective and presents stories that are compelling and tragic and fucking freaky as hell. The main subject is Professor Ron Deibert, who wrote the book of the same name, and which inspired de Pencier to make this film. Deibert runs the Citizen Lab in Toronto, and we follow his journey as he treks to a Cold War bunker in Sweden to meet the CEO of the company that holds the servers which held all the Snowden info before it became widespread, flies to Pakistan to meet a super interesting gentleman who is fighting for the right to information, and gives talks around the world about information and surveillance.
We also meet and hear the stories of super enthusiastic citizen journalists down in Brazil, who form a group called Mídia Ninja, a Syrian journalist who now resides in Jordan, a Tibetan filmmaker who escaped to Northern India, and then we have the stories of Sabeen Mahmud, who was gunned down in Pakistan after being outspoken on various rights issues, including that of free speech, and Bruno Ferreira Teles, who was accused of – and immediately condemned for – throwing a molotov cocktail at the police. Teles is one of the rare, uplifting stories – he was cleared of any wrongdoing when he appealed to Mídia Ninja followers for videos that would prove his innocence. In the end, using the Ninja videos, it was discovered that the actual people who threw the explosives were policemen. Sheesh.
Super interesting film, and I’m a bit anxious (but also very curious) to know what the repercussions of this film are going to be. I mean… this is an incredibly sensitive topic (what with the Wikileaks, then the FBI demanding information from Apple, and more locally, the great firewall of China along with the censorship and monitoring that we all know goes on there, etcetc). This is a story worth following, if only because it affects every single one of us who have some sort of digital footprint…