about
SECRECY
A film by Peter Galison and Robb Moss

About SECRECY

In a single recent year the U.S. classified about five times the number of pages added to the Library of Congress. We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge. Depending on whom you ask, government secrecy is either the key to victory in our struggle against terrorism, or our Achilles heel. But is so much secrecy a bad thing?

Secrecy saves: counter-terrorist intelligence officers recall with fury how a newspaper article describing National Security Agency abilities directly led to the loss of information that could have avoided the terrorist killing of 241 soldiers in Beirut late in October 1983. Secrecy guards against wanton nuclear proliferation, against the spread of biological and chemical weapons. Secrecy is central to our ability to wage an effective war against terrorism.

Secrecy corrupts. From extraordinary rendition to warrant-less wiretaps and Abu Ghraib, we have learned that, under the veil of classification, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses. Secrecy increasingly hides national policy, impedes coordination among agencies, bloats budgets and obscures foreign accords; secrecy throws into the dark our system of justice and derails the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government.

This film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government's ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.

Directors

Peter Galison
[hi-res photo] [hi-res headshot]

Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; won a 1998 Pfizer Award (for Image and Logic) as the best book that year in the History of Science; and in 1999 received the Max Planck and Humboldt Stiftung Prize. His books include How Experiments End (1987), Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps (2003), and most recently Objectivity (with L. Daston, 2007)—he has worked extensively with de-classified material in his studies of physics in the Cold War. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, "Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma" (44 minutes, with Pamela Hogan) has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses and seminars in the United States and abroad. Galison co-curated a major exhibition, "Iconoclash" at the German Media Museum (ZKM) in 2002. The show explored the battles between iconoclasm and iconophilia—the necessity and impossibility of images—in art, science, and religion.
Peter Galison's Harvard homepage.

Robb Moss
[hi-res photo] [hi-res headshot]

Robb Moss's recent film, The Same River Twice, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit award, and played theatrically in more than eighty cities across North America. Other films have shown at the Telluride Film Festival, screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and at numerous venues around the world, including in Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Sydney, Ankara, and Rio de Janeiro. As a cinematographer he has shot films in Ethiopia, Hungary, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Turkey—on such subjects as famine, genocide and the large-scale structure of the universe—many of these pieces were shown on Public Television. He was on the 2004 documentary jury at the Sundance Film Festival and has thrice served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute documentary labs. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past twenty years.
Robb Moss's Harvard homepage.

Awards

WINNER
BEST DOCUMENTARY
NEWPORT INT'L
FILM FESTIVAL
  WINNER
INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
BOSTON
  OFFICIAL SELECTION
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
OFFICIAL SELECTION
TRIBECA
FILM FESTIVAL
  OFFICIAL SELECTION
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST
FILM FESTIVAL
  OFFICIAL SELECTION
SAN FRANCISCO INT'L
FILM FESTIVAL