Phantom Parrot (2023)
Directed by Kate Stonehill, 88 mins
In-person: Saturday 02 December 10:00, Wellcome Collection, Euston Road
Video-on-demand watch window: Tuesday 05 December 19:00 GMT - Wednesday 06 December 21:00 GMT
The revelation of a top-secret British surveillance programme brings down the dominoes in a dark and analytical film about technology, rights and structural racism – and about a man with the courage to speak out.
If British police ask for the password to your phone or computer, you must hand it over to them in accordance with an anti-terror law that came into force before 9/11. When human rights activist Muhammad Rabbani refuses and is prosecuted, a journalist is able to uncover documents proving the existence of a top-secret surveillance programme, code-named Phantom Parrot, designed to copy the personal data of individuals at airports and border crossings – and people from minority backgrounds are often the first to be pulled aside.
And from there, the dominoes start falling in all directions in a dark detective film about technology, surveillance and structural racism in a time where knowledge might still equal power but where data is even better.
A razor-sharp analysis that unravels the threads and allows us to understand both the scale and gravity of the Phantom Parrot programme.
The panel discussion after the screening was moderated by Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram, Associate Professor in Global Health and Philosophy at King's Global Health Institute. He was joined by director Kate Stonehill, main protagonist Muhammad Rabbani, director of CAGE, and Dr Rizwaan Sabir, Lecturer in Criminology at Liverpool John Moores University.