Preview Screening: 1971 + Q&A
This screening will be followed by a Q&A via Skype with director Johanna Hamilton.
On 8 March 1971, the night of the legendary boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. The members of the self-proclaimed Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI picked the lock on the door, took every file in the office, loaded them into suitcases and walked out the front door.
Mailed anonymously, these documents started to show up in newsrooms, unleashing fierce debates on whether or not to publish them. Despite demands by the Nixon administration to suppress the story, The Washington Post went to press, uncovering the FBI’s vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.
For the first time, the members of the Citizens’ Commission come forward and speak out about their actions. Through a combination of exclusive interviews, rare primary documents from the break-in and investigation, national news coverage of the burglary and dramatic reenactments, filmmaker Johanna Hamilton tells the story of the Citizens’ Commission. This is a story with haunting echoes to today’s questions of privacy in the era of government surveillance.
Directed by Johanna Hamilton