Watching privacy & surveillance

A subjective collection of films, videos, TV shows and other audiovisual materials about privacy, surveillance, and related subjects.

  1. Photographing a female crook, 1904, Wallace McCutcheon. Available here (Archive.org).
  2. Metropolis, 1927, Fritz Lang. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 10.
  3. Nazi agent, 1942, Jules Dassin.
  4. Private SNAFU: Spies, 1943, US War Department. Available here (Archive.org). More information here.
  5. Shadow of a doubt, 1943, Alfred Hitchcock. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 28.
  6. Call Northside 777, 1948, Henry Hathaway. Featuring among other interesting details a polygraph, as commented here.
  7. Farewell Oak Street, 1953, Grant McLean. Available here (National Film Board of Canada). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 9.
  8. Rear window, 1954, Alfred Hitchcock. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 28.
  9. The boy who saw through, 1958, produced by Mary Ellen Bute. Available here (National Film Preservation). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 16#baf02 copy.
  10. Das magische Band [The magic tape], 1959, Ferdinand Khittl. Commissioned by BASF. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 11.
  11. Small town espionage, 1960, US National Archives. Available here (Archive.org). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 27.
  12. Kommunikation: Technik der Verständigung, 1961/62, Edgar Reitz. Music by Josef Anton Riedl, Studio für elektronische Musik, Siemens.
  13. Pentagon 1960’s Underground Data Center, 1963-1971, as compiled by the Computer History Archives Project here. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 11.
  14. Paparazzi, 1963, Jacques Rozier. Available here (La Cinémathèque française). Surveillance Film Summer Day 5.
  15. Blow up, 1966, Michelangelo Antonioni. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 20. To note there is also an installation by Christan Marclay, ‘Up and out’ (1998), in which Blow Up and Brian de Palma’s Blow out (1981) are jointly screened.
  16. Right of privacy, 1967, NET Documentary. Available here (Archive.org). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 17. #data for decision 6 copy 2
  17. Data for decision, 1968, David Millar. Available here (National Film Board of Canada). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 17.
  18. Beauty, 1970, Johan van der Keuken. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 19.
  19. The Bill of Rights in action: The right to privacy, 1970, Bernard Wilets. Available here (Archive.org).
  20. Colossus: The Forbin Project, 1970, Joseph Sargent. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 22.
  21. Ucho [The Ear], 1970/1990, Karel Kachyňa. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 3.
  22. Velocity 40-70, 1970, Johan van der Keuken. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 19.
  23. SAFARI : un projet de « mise en fiches » de la population française (TV news item), 1972. Available here (CNIL / INRA). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 19.
  24. UFA-Dabei 854/1972 (first sequence, on border control), 1972. Available here (German Federal Archives).
  25. Michel Chevalet sur l’interconnexion des fichiers et les enjeux pour les libertés (TV news item), 1974. Available here (CNIL / INRA). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 19. #car surveillance copy
  26. Car surveillance, 1974, US National Archives. Available here (Archive.org). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 27.
  27. The Conversation, 1974, Francis Ford Coppola. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 18. It is recommended to watch first Antonioni’s Blow up. See also: Hacked circuit, 2014, by Deborah Stratman.
  28. All the President’s Men, 1976, Alan J. Pakula. See also the TV documentary All the President’s Men, Revisited (2013) by Peter Schnall, available here.
  29. Une sale histoire, 1977, Jean Eustache. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 12.
  30. Sinai Field Mission, Frederick Wiseman, 1978. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 8. Reading suggestion: Frederick Wiseman (2001), ‘Privacy and documentary filmmaking‘, Social research, 68(1) pp. 41-47.
  31. The American Police State: Episode 24 of Alternative Views TV programme, 1979. Available here (Archive.org). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 24.
  32. Offre d’emploi, 1980, Jean Eustache, 1980. Surveillance Film Summer Day 12. #computer spies 8 copy
  33. Computers, spies and private lives, 1981. Available here (Archive.org).
  34. Born in flames, 1983, Lizzie Borden. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 22. See also: ‘Born in Flames: Feminist Futures‘ exhibition.
  35. Der Riese [The Giant], 1983, Michael Klier. Available here (UbuWeb). Read the Notes on The Giant by Harun Farocki available here.
  36. Balkanski špijun [Balkan Spy], 1984, Dušan Kovačević and Božidar Nikolić. Online here (YouTube) and here (Vimeo). Read: Goran Lazičić ‘Spying on the Balkan Spy. Paranoia and conspiracy in the works of Dušan Kovačević’ (2020) here.
  37. Seksmisja [Sexmission], 1984, Juliusz Machulski. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 22.
  38. Brazil, 1985, Terry Gilliam. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 23.
  39. Krótki film o miłości [A short film about love], 1988, Krzysztof Kieślowski. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 14.
  40. That was the GDR: A history of the other Germany – Episode 6: Shield and sword, 1993, Anne Worst and Arnold Seul. Available here (YouTube).
  41. Trois couleurs: Rouge [Three colours: Red], Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994. Surveillance Film Summer Day 14.
  42. Enemy of the State, 1998, Tony Scott. It is recommended to watch first Coppola’s The Conversation.
  43. Gefängnisbilder [Prison images], 2000/2001, Harun Farocki, available here. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 1.
  44. Sexe et vidéo, 2001, Steven Artels. Available here (Radio Télévision Suisse, RTS).
  45. De l’autre côté [On the other side], 2002, Chantal Akerman. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 4.
  46. In order not to be here, 2002, Deborah Stratman. Music by Kevin Drumm.
  47. The future is not what it used to be, Mika Taanila, 2003. Surveillance Film Summer Day 6. See also a selection of films by Erkki Kurenniemi at UbuWeb.
  48. 80064, 2004, Artur Żmijewski. Available here (UbuWeb).
  49. Az ügynök élete [The life of an agent], 2004, Gábor Zsigmond Papp. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 27.
    #day2
  50. Aus Liebe zum Volk [I love you all], 2004, Eyal Sivan and Audrey Maurion. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 2. Watch also a discussion with Eyal Sivan organised by the Cinematek and Goethe-Institut Brussels here, referring inter alia to the fact that this documentary inspired Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Das Leben der Anderen [The life of others], 2006.
  51. LAX 2004, 2004, Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT). See also the BIT Database.
  52. Operation Spring, 2005, Tristan Sindelgruber and Angelika Schuster. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 15.
  53. The Great Indian School Show, 2005, Avinash Deshpande. Available here.
  54. Faceless, 2007, Manu Luksch. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 13. See also the Manifesto for CCTV Filmmakers, and more information here.
  55. Mapping CCTV in Whitehall, Manu Luksch, 2008, available here. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 13.
  56. Optical vacuum, 2008, Dariusz Kowalski.
  57. Gigante, 2009, Adrián Biniez.
  58. Erasing David, 2010, David Bond.
  59. Wave catcher, 2010, Christina Kubisch. Excerpt available here (Vimeo).
  60. Ai Weiwei: Never sorry, 2012, Alison Klayman. More information here. Press notes here. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 21.
  61. Facial weaponization communiqué: Fag face, 2012, Zach Blas. Available here.
  62. Closed circuit, 2013, John Crowley. steyerl_nottobeseen1-469x264 copy
  63. How not to be seen: A fucking didactic educational .MOV file, 2013, Hito Steyerl. Available here. Surveillance Film Summer Day 7. Read also further information at MoMa Learning.
  64. Broken land, 2014, Stéphanie Barbey and Luc Peter. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 4.
  65. Citizenfour, 2014, Laura Poitras. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 25.
  66. Stakleni Čovjek [Transparency], 2015, Daniel Šuljić. Available here (Vimeo).
  67. Democracy – Im Rausch der Daten, 2015, David Bernet. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 30.
  68. Snowden, 2016, Oliver Stone. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 25. See also the video of Peter Gabriel’s song for the original soundtrack, ‘The Veil’, here (YouTube).
  69. Die Kunst der Widerrede, [The art of the argument] 2018, Melanie Liebheit and Gereon Wetzel. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 29. More information here. See here the facts of the case.
  70. I see red people, 2018, Bojina Panayotova. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 26.
  71. The feeling of being watched, 2018, Assia Boundaoui. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 26.
  72. Windows, 2018, Jason Allen Lee. Available here (Vimeo). Music by Trentemøller. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 28.
  73. HAK_MTL, 2019, Alexandre Shelton. Beware this film was produced inter alia with the support of ProtonMail. Screenshot 2021-08-30 at 23.14.43 copy
  74. It’s a long way from Amphioxus, 2019, Kamal Aljafari. Available here (Vimeo).
  75. The Great Hack, 2019, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer. See also Channel 4’s ‘The Great Hack’s David Carroll finally sees his Cambridge Analytica data’ (2020), here (YouTube). Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 31. Recommended reading: ‘No (Big) Data, No Fiction? Thinking Surveillance With/Against Netflix’, Rocco Bellanova and Gloria González Fuster (2018), available here.
  76. Cell 364, 2020, Zoé Rossion and Mathilde Babo. More information here.
  77. MLK/FBI, 2020, Sam Pollard. Beware that most of the eavesdropping footage is taken from videos available on Archive.org, some of which are listed above.
  78. Tipografic majuscul (Uppercase Print), 2020, Radu Jude. Cf. Surveillance Film Summer Day 23.
  79. Every time you try and go on a website, 2021, Stevie Martin. Available here (YouTube).

Please note that this is only a subjective selection; there exist many, many other relevant films that may objectively be of interest, such as, to name some more: 1984, Michael Anderson (1956); 1984, Michael Radford (1984); The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum (2014); All light, everywhere, Theo Anthony (2021) (an interesting review about it here). Just FYI I am not planning to watch Steven Spielberg’s ‘Minority report’ (2002) or any film with Tom Cruise.

Some additional references: A list compiled by Dietmar Kammerer in 2010 and made available by the Surveillance Studies Network can be found here. Check ‘Autopsies of Surveillance‘, a series of texts accompanying a 2011 event on Cultures of Surveillance, here. There was a ‘Secret Police Film Festival’ in Budapest in 2015, the programme is very interesting and available here, see also a review. Belgium’s Datapanik lists many resources in its regularly updated videotheek, here. Ryan Chiavetta selected titles for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), here and here.