CITIZENFOUR: Snooping and security

October 31, 2014 | merryn.johnson

By Max Hallam

On Wednesday 29 October, the Frontline Club held a special preview screening of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras’s new film CITIZENFOUR ahead of its UK cinematic release on Friday 31 October.

Laura Poitras

While working on a documentary trilogy about post 9/11 America, Poitras began to receive encrypted emails from a subject known only as ‘Citizen Four’. This citizen claimed to be ready to blow the whistle on a global intelligence effort involving private information and communications of regular people. Poitras and confidant Glenn Greenwald flew to Kong Kong on Citizen Four’s instructions, where they would dissect the information he had to give them. It was here that Citizen Four revealed himself as the man we now know as Edward Snowden.

FOR SALE: Modern Day Slavery

October 29, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Elliott Goat

“Sometimes they don’t even know where here is.”

In the build up to the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Women Conference, on Monday 27 October the Frontline Club hosted a debate on modern day slavery and human trafficking chaired by Prabha Kotiswaran, senior lecturer in Law at King’s College London and advisor to the ILO-DFID Anti-Trafficking Project.

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Can news still change the course of history?

October 27, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Antonia Roupell

“Does the Pubic Still Care?” was the poignant title of the discussion on conflict and disaster reporting which was chaired by Ben Parker at the Frontline Club on Thursday 23 October. The event was organised by the Oversees Development Institute and Humanitarian Policy Group. Channel 4 News anchor, Jon Snow, and senior reporter for the People and Power programme on Al Jazeera English, Juliana Ruhfus, were joined by experts in aid and development, Marc DuBois, former head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Eva Svoboda, research fellow in the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute.

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The event was being followed online #crisisreporting

The Future of Journalism: Will we be better informed? Part Two

October 27, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Josie Le Blond

What is the future of news? Will the public know more or less in the internet age? These questions were the focus of a panel discussion marking the launch of the autumn issue of Index on Censorship magazine at the Frontline Club on Wednesday 22 October.

Shrinking international news budgets, bureau closures, the rise of the freelancer and the citizen journalist all made for gloomy prognoses for the business-as-usual news model, agreed the panel chaired by The Times columnist, David Aaronovitch.


From left: David Aaronovitch, Amie Ferris-Rotman, Rachel Briggs and Richard Sambrook in conversation at the Frontline Club.

The Frontline Club Awards 2014 in pictures

October 24, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

The Frontline Club Awards 2014 were presented on Thursday 16 October. Full details of the winners can be found on our Awards site, but below are a selections of images from the night.


Peter Greste’s friend and colleague, Sue Turton, delivered his keynote speech, the full transcript of which can be found here.

The Future of Journalism: Will we be better informed? Part One

October 23, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Isabel Gonzalez-Prendergast

On Wednesday 22 October, the autumn issue of Index on Censorship magazine launched at the Frontline Club. The magazine’s editor, Rachael Jolley, introduced the issue and handed over to author and columnist, David Aaronovitch, who chaired the accompanying debate on the future of journalism.

Aaronovitch initiated the discussion by asking each panellist to speak individually on the future of journalism before inviting the audience to partake.

Rachael Jolly (right) gives an introduction and speaks briefly on the Index on Censorship magazine launch.

Opposing Power

October 20, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Max Hallam

The Term offers a fascinating insight into the world of the groups opposing Vladamir Putin’s presidency in Russia. After its screening at the Frontline Club on Friday 17 October 2014, producer Max Tuula joined the audience for a brief Q&A via Skype.

Max Tuula The Term

The film follows the efforts of a number of opposition leaders, including Alexei Navalny, who runs the dominant anti-corruption blog and is an active political figure, and Ilya Yashin, leader of the Solidarnost opposition movement. The third main person of interest is Ksenia Sobchak, a prominent political activist who works alongside Ilya Yashin. Sobchak is of particular focus because she is Vladamir Putin’s goddaughter.

One of the opening scenes shows a chorus of partygoers singing, “I’m free, I’ve forgotten what fear is,” swiftly followed by footage of marches and protests and clashes with the police.

The various opposition groups are not depicted as aggressive movements. Rather, The Term reveals a spider’s web of different groups carefully considering and co-ordinating their next steps. A poignant moment in the film is when Ksenia says to Ilya Yashin, “It is important to know when to stop.”

1989 Season: Moments After

October 15, 2014 wotienke.vermeer Comment

This autumn marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolutionary events of 1989. Together with the Czech Centre, the Frontline Club presents a special series of events: ‘Moments After’. These documentary film screenings and talks, aim to tackle political and social developments following the collapse of the Eastern bloc.

Screening: The Term + Q&A

Friday 17 October 2014, 7:00 PM

The Term tells the unique inside story of the Russian opposition movement as Vladimir Putin settles into the Kremlin for his third term, through exclusive access to anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny and other key opposition figures, including Putin’s god-daughter, Ksenia Sobchak, and Solidarnost leader, Ilya Yashin. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with with producer Max Tuula via Skype.

Insight with Michael Žantovský: Havel and the Velvet Revolution

Monday 3 November 2014, 7:00 PM

Twenty-five years ago in December 1989, Václav Havel was elected as President of Czechoslovakia, marking the end of the Velvet Revolution and with it, the culmination of 41 years of communist rule. By his side throughout was Michael Žantovský, Havel’s press secretary, speech-writer, translator and close friend. Žantovský will be joining us in conversation with Edward Lucas, senior editor at The Economist, to bear witness to Havel’s extraordinary life as documented in his new book Havel: A Life, and to share his own experiences of living through the Velvet Revolution and the formation of the Czech Republic.

The NFB’s hunt for the holy grail of interactive storytelling

October 9, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Graham Lanktree

Interactive reports that hold short-attention spans online are the holy grail for web editors. Loc Dao, an executive producer and creative technologist at the National Film Board of Canada’s digital studio, has come up with a few recipes for success.

At the Frontline Club on Wednesday 8 October, Dao shared the lessons learned on the road to brilliant projects like the NFB’s Seven Digital Deadly Sins partnership with The Guardian in June, and Bear 71, which challenged the nature of the medium with its mash of video, gaming technology and interactive installation at its 2012 Sundance Film Festival debut.


Still the enemy within after 30 years

October 6, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Graham Lanktree

When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced on 6 March 1984 that she would close 20 coal mines, there was little clue it would spark the country’s longest strike and leave Britain’s trade unions sorely diminished decades later.

For a year roughly 160,000 coal miners from across the UK walked off the job as the government declared war on the unions. Thirty years on, “there’s a huge battle for interpretation about it,” said Owen Gower, director of Still the Enemy Within, at its Frontline Club screening on Friday 3 October.

With first-hand accounts from members of the National Union of Mineworkers who manned the strike’s front lines, the documentary digs deep into archival footage – much never seen before and shot by the miners themselves – to give voice to the men and women who Thatcher labeled ‘the enemy within’.

Still the Enemy Within

Ebola: Tearing a hole in West Africa

October 6, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Mackenzie Weinger

On Wednesday 1 October, several experts told a crowd at the Frontline Club about the unprecedented and horrific impact that the Ebola epidemic is having in West Africa.

The panel — moderated by Ade Daramy, chair and spokesperson for the UK Sierra Leone Ebola Task Force — tackled the international community’s response to the outbreak and assessed the situation on the ground during the Frontline Club’s First Wednesday: The Fight Against Ebola.


From left: Meinie Nicolai, Professor David Heymann, Ade Daramy, Colin Freeman, Dr Ike Anya and Dr Tim O’Dempsey in conversation at the Frontline Club. Photograph: Mackenzie Weinger

1971: The year they took the truth

September 30, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By George Symonds

“J. Edgar Hoover was apoplectic.”

On Monday 29 September 2014, the Frontline Club screened 1971, the incredible story of eight US citizens whose courage – both moral and physical – led them to break into an FBI office to confiscate evidence of the bureau’s grave abuses of power.

The self-incriminating documents revealed the existence of COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program), the remit of which ranged from spying on women’s tea parties to what Noam Chomsky described as the, “Gestapo-style assassination”of Black Panther leaders.

In the post-screeening Q&A we were joined by director Johanna Hamilton via video link.

ISIS is here for a generation

September 26, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Richard Nield

The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the international network of militants it has spawned will be with us for a “generation”, according to experts speaking at the Frontline Club on Wednesday 24 September 2014.

From Al-Qaeda to ISIS: terrorist tactics. Panel discussion at the Frontline Club, 24 September 2014. From L to R: Patrick Cockburn; Peter Neumann; Sam Kiley; Alia Brahimi; Aymenn Al-Tamimi. Photograph by Richard Nield

From Al-Qaeda to ISIS: terrorist tactics. Panel discussion at the Frontline Club, 24 September 2014. From L to R: Patrick Cockburn, Peter Neumann, Sam Kiley, Alia Brahimi and Aymenn al-Tamimi. Photograph by Richard Nield

Libya: “A country which seems to be falling apart by accident.”

September 25, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Caroline Rogers

On Wednesday 17 September, a panel chaired by Channel 4 News’ international editor Lindsey Hilsum, came together to discuss the current plight of Libya; what has gone wrong since the 2011 revolution, whether it really is on the brink of becoming a failed state, and what role the international community should play in pulling Libya away from this fate.