In our ever developing digital age, privacy is becoming harder and harder to come by. To celebrate the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s novel, 1984, ACMI will be showing a series of films in association with the Melbourne Festival. The program, titled, ‘Eyes Without a Face: Surveillance in Cinema,’ will showcase an array of films all based around surveillance and monitoring of individuals. Perfect timing, in fact, since the government’s data retention laws are active as of today, which means a lot of what you do on your phone is no longer as private as you might hope!
Melbourne Festival is now in its 30th year, and has a massive offering to celebrate! There’s a whole bunch of great films being screened at ACMI, and to make your viewing choices easier, here’s a few recommendations:
Director: Michael Radford
When: Thursday, October 8 (6.30pm) OR Friday October 23 (6.45pm)
The faithful cinematic adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian science fiction novel you probably read in high school. The film stars a young John Hurt as lead character and everyman Winston Smith. It visually represents the novel’s concept of a totalitarian state, where the government monitors its citizens and manipulates history. Coining modern terms and concepts such as ‘thought-crime’ and ‘big brother,’ Radford’s film is an excellent representation Orwell’s salient text.
Director: Laura Poitras
When: Friday, October 16 (7.30pm) OR Thursday, October 22 (9pm)
Dealing with the balance between security and privacy invasion, Citizenfour is the story of controversial ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden. A whistle-blower, Snowden was responsible for leaking confidential information from the National Security Agency. Director Laura Poitras deals with the US government’s ability to monitor its citizens for security purposes. She focuses heavily on Snowden’s life as he moves from being a vigilante of sorts, to the government’s biggest enemy. Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
When: Sunday, October 11 (4pm) OR Friday, October 16 (2.45pm)
One of Hitchcock’s greatest thrillers, Rear Window features James Stewart as Jeff, a man temporarily bound to a wheelchair after breaking his leg. To fill his time, Jeff begins to spy on his neighbours, until discovering something potentially sinister about one. Jeff’s innocent hobby becomes a constant surveillance effort in an attempt to catch his neighbour Thorwald out. On release, Rear Window was critically acclaimed, and is continually celebrated today. In fact, if you haven’t seen the film, you may recognise the plot from when The Simpsons parodied it in their episode, ‘Bart of Darkness.’ Perfect for fans of suspense and thriller films.
We Live in Public
Director: Ondi Timoner
When: Friday, October 16 (5.30pm) OR Thursday, October 22 (7pm)
A social experiment that went wrong, or perhaps horribly right, is examined closely in this documentary film about privacy in the digital age. It follows Josh Harris, and internet visionary who founded Pseudo.com in the 1990’s, a domain for live internet television. Documented over a decade of Harris’ life, We Live in Public deals with Orwellian themes of surveillance and privacy, as humans are recorded and broadcasted 24/7. After being shut down, Harris begins to record himself and his girlfriend instead, proving detrimental to both his relationship and mental health.