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Project X – by Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke

From the director of Citizenfour, narrated by Rami Malek and Michelle Williams, a journey into NSA's NYC surveillance hub

10 – 15 | 2016 | Documentary | Observational | Politics | USA

Not many people know that AT&T has installed NSA surveillance equipment in at least 5 of its Internet and phone hubs on American soil. Through this partnership, NSA has collected billions of emails and metadata records, and has spied on the United Nations, the World Bank, and 38 countries. The fallout from Edward Snowden’s revelations becomes Project X, doc short produced by Field of Vision and The Intercept, directed by Laura Poitras, a journalist and Academy Award-winning filmmaker (Citizenfour), The Intercept co-founder, and Field of Vision co-creator; and Henrik Moltke, an award-winning reporter and documentary maker who’s been working with Poitras since 2013.

Narrated by Rami Malek, Emmy Award-winning star of Mr. Robot, and Michelle Williams, the three-time Academy Award-nominated star of films such as Manchester by the Sea, Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, and My Week With Marilyn, Project X reveals the location of NSA’s NYC surveillance hub, and delves into the history of the structure, designed by John Carl Warnecke, and the secret NSA program run out of the building, called “Titanpointe.” The result is an icy and disturbing documentary shape-shifting into a spy thriller, a real version of Bourne and Minority Report. Rami Malek voices authority giving instruction, narrating this hidden world with a sense of constant paranoia and an insinuating sound. Long and wrap shots drive us into these places, where Manhattan citizens walk every day to buy groceries or to walk the dog. “The physicality of these buildings had always fascinated me —and you can see all these markings on the streets, you can see these cables,” Moltke explained in the interview with Field of Vision.

The complete story of Project X has been described in this article written by Moltke and Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept. And this story turns out to be more absurd, disturbing and uncanny as it is. Together with My Country, My Country, The Oath, and Citizenfour (and the short The Program), Project X is the ultimate block of the path that Laura Poitras has carved about the illiberal and anti-democratic aspects of the US post-9/11.

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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