6 film tips about privacy and surveillance

Amsterdam, 01-12-2023

The film screenings of Total Trust in our On Tour programme for the month of November have ended.

However, the film’s interpretation of the dangers of surveillance technology and the violation of privacy is more relevant than ever. Technological developments such as smart cameras, drones and data-gathering apps on smartphones have become an increasingly important part of our daily lives, which create ever more detailed records about those lives. The use of these types of technologies by government institutions and corporations is often justified to protect both public safety and cybersecurity. But the negative consequences for our privacy can be significant when our data falls into the wrong hands.

Total Trust is sounding the alarm about the increased use of surveillance tools, taking China as an example. But the problem exists in countries all over the world, including in democratically governed countries. Understanding the dangers of surveillance is important if we want to prevent basic rights such as privacy and freedom of expression from being compromised.

We have made a list of films that have been screened at one of our festival editions and which address the topic of privacy and surveillance from different contexts, countries, and even times. In this way, we hope to offer something to those who have been inspired to learn more about this subject after a screening of Total Trust, or to others who are interested.

Black Code

Nicholas de Pencier | Google Play | MtMF17

The Internet and social media have brought a degree of freedom to the oppressed of the world, a freedom that is infinitely precious. But that freedom also has a flip side: the web is a giant collection of personal information, offering fuel to oppressive regimes. From Tibet to Syria, this documentary shows the role of the web in the worldwide fight for democracy and freedom.

Coded Bias

Shalini Kantayya | Netflix | MtMF21

A deep dive into the way algorithms, artificial intelligence and Big Data increasingly govern our lives – and into ways to fight back. Coded Bias is a gripping wake-up call, starring some of the most inspiring and impressive scientists, activists and thinkers in the field.

The Dissident

Bryan Fogel | Pathé Thuis | MtMF21

Thriller-like documentary investigating the career and ultimate murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, directed by Academy Award winner Bryan Fogel (Icarus). With unseen surveillance footage and other newly unearthed evidence. Featuring Khashoggi’s fiancé Hatice Cengiz, fellow-dissidents, and Turkish police officers and prosecutors who worked on the case.

The Feeling of Being Watched

Assia Boundaoui | Vimeo On Demand | MtMF19

While journalist Assia Boundaoui investigates the rumours about surveillance in her Arab district in Chicago, she discovers a huge, long-term counterterrorism investigation by the FBI. The deeper she digs, the more she discovers about the eerie ‘Operation Vulgar Betrayal’ and its far-reaching impact on the lives of her family and neighbours.

Martin Luther King vs. The FBI

Sam Pollard | Prime Video | MtMF22

This documentary shows how Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equal rights for African American citizens, but was harrassed by the FBI because they saw him as a threat for the society. It shows how racism and fear of the American society obstructed King’s fight for equality.


Laure Massiet du Biest, Louison Assié | Vimeo | MtMF22

A group of residents from Marseille opposes the increasing security cameras in the streets of the French city. Pedestrians become suspects and every move you make is being watched and registered. The group of residents try to understand what exactly these cameras are meant to record. Will they find a way to outsmart this state control and create a new form of resistance?

*Some films may not be available through the links above if you are outside the Netherlands.