Sunday, March 20, 2016

Surveillance Film Festival

Has the portrayal of surveillance in films caught up with us? 

Dystopian Big Brother films from the past show glimpses of a present reality. Spy films and the machinations of spy paraphernalia capture our imagination with fantastical technology. Stasi and Cold War intelligence policing methods shock and titillate people. But Edward Snowden’s revelations opened many eyes to the ubiquitous world of mass surveillance right here and now.

The Surveillance Film Festival is an opportunity to explore the portrayal of surveillance in films and documentaries and ponder the reality of surveillance in our lives today. 

Come and enjoy some films and see where the discussion takes us.

Venue: Thistle Hall, Upper Cuba, Wellington City 

Friday 25th March

- 6pm - Farenheit451 (112mins) – then onwards for after-film discussion and drinks at a local pub. 

Saturday 26th March 

- 11am - The Program (8mins) and ABC Secret Room (9mins) - Nicky Hager will be present for a talk after these two short films.
- 12.30pm -  Operation 8 (110mins)
- 3pm - Every Step You Take (65mins) - followed by a chat with Kathleen Kuehn about the ubiquitousness of surveillance
- 5.30pm - Maintenance of Silence (20mins) 
- 7pm - The Lives of Others (137mins) 
Film synopsis: 
Farenheit451 (1966) 112mins
In Bradbury’s dystopian future most people are mindless drones living for instant gratification, plugged into ear buds or watching screens. News is controlled in censored bites, deep-thinking and analysis don’t happen. War economy rules. Sound sort of familiar? But in Farenheit451 all books are banned, is that the only difference?

The Program and ABC News, Secret Room (2012 & 2008) William Binney and Mark Klein are names that should be familiar. They are whistleblowers who spoke about mass surveillance prior to Snowden’s revelations. The info was out there for us, but so many chose not to listen. Why didn’t we want to know about the surveillance then? Why are we already ignoring Snowden’s revelations? Operation 8: Deep in the Forest (2011) 110mins Eight years ago in October dawn raids woke many people, people were briefly jailed and allegations of terrorism were thrown about based on evidence gained by surveillance. This country has a long history of surveillance, see how it was used in this most public case to hinder and control people and think about what is happening now. Every Step You Take (2007) 65mins CCTV and face recognition are examples of surveillance to keep people safe. Ten years ago the technology shocked, now it is old. How quick does it all change and how accepting do we become? Maintenance of Silence (1985) 20mins Awareness of surveillance seemed to be more common a few decades ago. Tens of thousands protested against the expansion of police and SIS powers, later the Wanganui Computer was bombed. Then Neil Roberts left the quote from Junta Tuitiva of La Paz, ‘We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity’. What does our silence now resemble? The Lives of Others (2006) 137mins Surveillance and oppression on the other side of the iron curtain has been a favourite subject for a lot of films. But how different is that past from the future here?

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