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Black Code - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
Black Code
SIFF's capsule summary: "Big Data meets Big Brother in this startling expose outlining how governments around the world are controlling, manipulating, and monitoring the Internet and digital communication, challenging our ideas of citizenship, privacy, and democracy to the very core." (Canada, 2016, 90 minutes)
SIFF link: Black Code

The film starts with an establishing scene of a visit to a huge underground bunker in Sweden, to illustrate the physical infrastructure of the Internet. But the real story is about government surveillance of their own citizens' Internet activity – and a story about Brazilian activists fighting back against government repression, often with citizen-journalism and their own surveillance.

7 Good The film is full of great material, but it's not organized as well as it could have been. The Swedish bunker scene is a great start, even if the physical infrastructure of the net is not all that relevant to its significance to society. The story of Brazilian activists resisting government oppression is the strongest segment; it's personalized with the story of one victim of government injustice, and the struggle of citizen-journalists to exonerate him with evidence from the many cameras that were running during a protest that turned violent.

I initially rated this film almost good, but in revising this review almost a year later I'm upgrading it to good. In retrospect, I think that the strength of the material outweighs the sometimes disorganized presentation. And the good segments are very good.

Languages: English.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "PG-13"; I don't recall anything particularly objectionable.

Screening: 3:30 pm, Lincoln Square, Bellevue (back hallway).
Audience: about half full, maybe 300 seats.

Snacks: none.

Ads and announcements:

  • Alaska Airlines ad.
  • Watch Guard ad.
  • National Film Board of Canada clip.
  • SIFF 2017 clip – This clip, featuring a magical campfire, is pretty cool.
  • A Life In Waves — This documentary about a pioneering woman sound designer looks interesting.
  • The Smuggler and Her Charges — Documentary about children who escaped from Nazis with the aid of a mysterious smuggler.
  • Thank you volunteers — The clip from Say Anything . . . with the boom box held overhead. Time for applause.
  • A SIFF programmer (who said she was from Toronto) introduced the film.
  • SIFF kaleidoscope clip — This has run right before every regular screening.

Notes to myself:

SIFF statistics: 42 films (all features), 42 slots, four parties, including tonight's. ("J": 23 films, three parties; including tonight's.)

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