Article 12: Waking Up in a Surveillance Society

I’m in a film! Article 12: Waking Up in a Surveillance Society is a really essential new documentary made by Junco Films, now doing the rounds of international film festivals. According to the Leeds Film Festival, where it will be shown next

“Article 12 presents an urgent and incisive deconstruction of the current state of privacy, the rights and desires of individuals and governments, and the increasing use of surveillance. The film adopts the twelfth article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to chart privacy issues worldwide, arguing that without this right no other human right can truly be exercised. It assembles leading academics and cultural analysts including Noam Chomsky, AC Grayling and Amy Goodman to highlight the devastating potency of surveillance, the dangers of complicity, and the growing movement fighting for this crucial right.”
Showings will be on Fri 12th Nov, 2010 at 20:15 in the Howard Assembly Room and on Tue 16th Nov, 2010 at 17:00 in Leeds Town Hall 2. The Tuesday showing will feature a discussion involving some of the contributors including AC Grayling (not me, although I was asked – it’s a bit too far to go!).
Future showings will include the Geneva International Human Rights Film Festival in March 2011 and hopefully Hotdocs in Toronto. If anyone else is interested in showing this film as part of an event, I’d be happy to contact the makers…

Manu Luksch

I am hosting the London-based Austrian new media artist and film director, Manu Luksch, here at Queen’s for a couple of days. On Tuesday 1st December, she is giving a presentation on her work on censorship in Iran and then in the evening, she is introducing and discussing her film, Faceless, a movie composed entirely of ‘found’ video surveillance footage (see the poster, below). You can find out more about her work on her website. She’ll be going on from here to Montreal…

Nineteen Eighty-Four in Spain

Tim Robbins and The Actors’ Gang are putting on a fascinating-looking adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in Barcelona. The production deliberately ties in with contemporary concerns about surveillance in the city, and in Spain and beyond. This production has already toured the USA, and you can find out more about it here.

Of course, this is far from the first adaptation of Orwell’s novel. Earlier this year, which is the 5oth anniversary of the publication of this seminal work, the UK’s National Media Museum put on a special version with John Hurt playing Winston Smith as he did in the 1984 cinema version, directed by Michael Radford (with its chilly soundtrack by The Eurythmics, which many regard as inappropriate but I really like!). The best version I have seen was done by Northern Stage in my old home city of Newcastle. This was a violent, uncompromising version (see this review in The Guardian) mixing live cinema and theatre. There was also the much earlier 1956 film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Edmond O’Brien, which shared with the climate in which the novel was written, the air of post-war ruin and privation (or at least its memory). Of course, one could regard Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as a riff off Nineteen Eighty-Four – but he’s never a director for a straight version!

(thanks to Aaron Martin for pointing me in the direction of the Barcelona production…)