The 16th Cinematik IFF will present an exclusive program section of films on surveillance

25. August 2021

In addition to Slovak and world novelties, profile sections and competitions, the Cinematik International Film Festival also brings impressive thematic collections. As part of the 16th year of the festival, one of them will be the program section Nothing to Hide, containing films on surveillance and watching, which are so common in our current reality.

This section shines more light on the practices of the totalitarian country and also “democracy”, reflects the transformation of man into a measurable body, examines the psychology of people who watch and are watched, provides a space to think about the environment under supervision, reads images and asks about the political, biological or aesthetic consequences of ubiquitous surveillance.

The documentary An Ordinary Country (Zwyczajny kraj, 2020) is composed only of archival materials of the secret service and presents life in socialist Poland through the eyes of its agents. We see images of spying and interrogations, we hear recorded banal phone calls and statements, and we learn from the instructional film how to install eavesdropping devices in the apartment. As viewers, we have no idea who the monitored person is, and especially what they have done wrong, we are only examining in detail their behavior, which may be range from ordinary to slightly suspicious. Tomasz Wolski’s Polish feature film was awarded by the jury at festivals in Krakow, Nyone, Minsk and Buenos Aires.

Cinematik visitors will also have the opportunity to see the creative documentary An Unusual Summer (2020) about the father of director Kamal Aljafari, who years ago installed a security camera in front of his house to find out who is constantly damaging his car. The author uses this material to talk about his street, his neighbors, life in a Palestinian neighborhood, sometimes referred to as a ghetto. Aljafari shows that it is an intensely lively place full of interesting people who are far from invisible. His film is against the tendency to forget and had its successful world premiere at the Swiss festival Vision du Réel.

The documentary thriller (T)error (2015) follows the story of an undercover FBI informant directly during the operation – his job is to get close to a man who is identified as a potential terrorist. This informant speaks openly about his work, we see his procedures step by step, but this raises questions about the methods of investigation. Is it possible that the people being tracked are artificially pushing similar informants to radicalize and be arrested “in full glory” by the FBI? The award-winning American documentary by director Lyric R. Cabral and director David Felix Sutcliffe premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it also won the Special Jury Prize.

The Nothing to Hide section will also present Michael Palma’s documentary essay Low Definition Control – Malfunctions #0 (2011). The film raises a number of questions related to life in the society it monitors and supervises. While watching (as if) images from security cameras, a wide range of experts from neurologists to media philosophers think about surveillance, data, mechanization of vision, or how images change. The film was included in the programs of festivals in Rotterdam, Vienna and New Horizons in Poland.

The last title of the section will be a German documentary by Bettina Ellerkamp and Jörg Heitmann entitled killer.berlin.doc (1999). Berlin recorded on a typical 90s video is the scene of a film social experiment. Ten people come to the city to play the killers – each of them has to track someone else from the group, but at the same time he knows that someone is trying to find him, everyone is a hunter and hunted at the same time. The film had its world premiere at the Berlinale festival.