U.S. Under the Lens: National Bird + Panel Discussion

Screening Monday 7 November 2016, 7:00 PM

This screening will be followed by a panel discussion with director Sonia Kennebeck and others.

National Bird follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war.

At the centre of the film are three U.S. military veterans. Grappling with guilt over their participation in the drone programme, they decide to speak out publicly in spite of the possible consequences. Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the protagonists to Afghanistan where she learns about the horrific consequences of a drone strike for a civilian family. But her journey also gives hope for peace and redemption.

National Bird gives unprecedented insight into the U.S. drone programme through the eyes of veterans and survivors, connecting their stories to create a comprehensive overview of events as never seen before. Its images haunt the audience and bring a faraway issue close to home.

Discussion chaired by Juliana Ruhfus, journalist, filmmaker, and senior reporter at Al Jazeera English, People and Power.


Sonia Kennebeck is an independent documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with more than 15 years of directing and producing experience. She has directed eight television documentaries and more than 50 investigative reports. She lives in New York where she runs her own production company (Ten Forward Films) that makes films about international politics and human rights. Filmmaker Magazine recently selected her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2016.” Sonia Kennebeck received a Master’s degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. and was born in Malacca, Malaysia. NATIONAL BIRD is her first feature-length documentary film.

Frank Ledwidge is a barrister who served as a military intelligence officer in the Balkans and Iraq. He has also worked for the British government in Afghanistan and Libya. He is the author of ‘losing Small Wars’. He is the author of Losing Small Wars (Yale 2011) and Investment in Blood (Yale 2013)

Jack Serle is a specialist reporter on the Bureau’s Covert Drone War team. He has worked on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s drone war coverage since 2012.

Directed by: Sonia Kennebeck
Produced by: Ines Hofmann Kanna
Executive Producers: Wim Wenders and Errol Morris
Year: 2016
Country: United States
Runtime: 92′