"Secrecy": Screening This Wednesday

Government secrecy and classified information are the focus of this collaboration between Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss, to be shown February 18 at Harvard Law School.

Secrecy, a documentary directed by Pellegrino University Professor Peter Galison and Arnheim lecturer on filmmaking Robb Moss, screens on Wednesday evening, February 18, at Austin Hall, Harvard Law School (HLS)—complete with free popcorn and soda, according to the official event listing. A panel discussion afterward features Galison, Moss, and three HLS professors: Jack Goldsmith, Martha Minow, and Jonathan Zittrain.

Galison and Moss, who co-teach the course "Filming Science," began work in 2004 on "a film about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy" (see this article from the Harvard Magazine archives). The intervening years have offered ample material: the publicity materials for the film mention extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretaps, and Abu Ghraib. 

In his 2004 article "Removing Knowledge," Galison wrote that the amount of knowledge classified by the U.S. government eclipsed the amount of open knowledge (defined, for the sake of argument, as the number of pages in the Library of Congress). In one recent year alone, the filmmakers note, the government classified five times as many of pages as were added to the Library of Congress.

Secrecy premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Also in 2008, it received the special jury award for documentary features at the Boston Independent Film Festival and won best documentary at the Newport International Film Festival.

This is the second documentary film for Galison, a physicist and scholar of the history of science; Ultimate Weapon, about the making of the hydrogen bomb, debuted on the History Channel in 2000. (Read more about that from the archives here.)

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