Films on Censorship

High Tech, Low Life

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 25m. Meet Tiger and Zola, two “citizen reporters” who travel throughout China, facing censorship and even imprisonment in their pursuit of the truth.  Citizen journalism at its best. The courage of these people is amazing, and their passion is inspiring. After I watched this, I tried to search for recent blogs by Tiger but couldn’t find anything. This film gives you the feeling and the flavor of Beijing. The real stuff. The way real people live and work and how they are naturally. The countryside scenes and the travel scenes nail it! I lived in China four years 2006 to 2010 teaching English, and this show brought back many memories. This doc shows the importance of the flow of information, and how each and every one of us can make a difference in our communities. I remember Facebook being blocked and on some occasions Yahoo and Google as well. Censorship in China is little known by most around the world, and I was fascinated. This doc does a good job at showing the censorship going on over there. Although it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. In four years I saw so much change it felt like I was inside a time-machine watching new developments pop up overnight — a lot of the same stuff going on here in the States. I recommend this film for anybody who has never been to China. I must say, this film opened my eyes to life in China. We should never take our freedom for granted. I really enjoyed this movie. And great job by all involved in this film! Great watch!

Inside North Korea

Documentary National Geographic 2006 TV-PG 50m. Disguised as a medical coordinator, National Geographic correspondent Lisa Ling gains access into North Korea and gives viewers a powerful glimpse inside one of the most restrictive countries in the world. Through personal accounts and exclusive footage, Ling exposes the difficulties North Koreans face while living in such an oppressive regime, coping with poverty, hunger and the lack of civil liberties. See Full Review

Secret State of North Korea

Documentary Frontline 2012 Jan14. In Secret State of North Korea, Frontline shines a light on the hidden world of the North Korean people, drawing on undercover footage from inside the country as well as interviews with defectors—including a former top official—who are working to try to chisel away at the regime’s influence. Intelligence officials know even less about North Korea’s new ruler than they did about his enigmatic father. North Korea must open up to survive, but doing so risks the collapse of the regime. Link to View This Frontline Story for Free (Listed by Date 2012 Jan14):

North Korea In Black and White

Documentary Frontline / World 2007. Photographer Dong Lin has visited North Korea several times in recent years trying to glimpse life in this secretive state. As North and South Korea plan for a rare summit this Fall, we offer a black-and-white portrait of the North, taken surreptitiously and under constant watch, in a country long known for its isolation and paranoia.

A State of Mind

Documentary 2004 NR 94 minutes. Two young North Korean gymnasts prepare for an unprecedented competition in this documentary that offers a rare look into the communist society and the daily lives of North Korean families. For more than eight months, film crews follow 13-year-old Pak Hyon Sun and 11-year-old Kim Song Yun and their families as the girls train for the Mass Games, a spectacular nationalist celebration involving thousands of performers.

North Korea: A Day in the Life

Documentary 2004 NR 48 minutes. Filmmaker Pieter Fleury provides a rare look at life inside North Korea — albeit one that’s been vetted and approved by the government of Kim Jong II. Fleury had to make plenty of concessions to North Korea just to get the film made, and it’s clear that all the participants are putting their best faces forward here. Still, the film manages to reveal far more than the government would like about life under its repressive regime.

North Korea: Suspicious Minds

Documentary Frontline / World 2003. Frontline/World visits North Korea, which is among the most closed societies on the globe. Traveling as tourists, BBC reporter Ben Anderson and cinematographer Wills Daws peek past the sights planned for them on their guided tour and develop surprising rapport with their ideologically pure official minders.


Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 20m. With homeland security and the war on terror becoming increasingly important issues, the U.S. government has grown more and more secretive, allegedly to protect the country and save lives. But is this culture of secrets at odds with democracy? This documentary examines both the pros and cons of government concealment by focusing on classified secrets and the arguments the government makes in the name of national security. See Full Review

We Steal Secrets:
The Story of WikiLeaks

Documentary 2013 R 2hr 9m. This documentary reveals how Julian Assange fired a global debate on secrecy when his web site, Wikileaks, published thousands of confidential documents. Taking no sides, Oscar winner Alex Gibney examines every aspect of the controversial event.


Documentary Frontline 2011 NR. Intelligence analyst Bradley Manning set off a firestorm of controversy when he released millions of classified documents to the WikiLeaks Web site in 2010. “Frontline” investigates this enigmatic figure’s motives and the fallout of his actions. It’s the biggest intelligence breach in U.S. history-the leaking of more than half-a-million classified documents on the Wikileaks website in the spring of 2010. Behind it all, stand two very different men: Julian Assange, the Internet activist and hacker who published the documents, and an Army intelligence analyst named Bradley E. Manning, who’s currently charged with handing them over. Private Manning allegedly leaked the secret cables — along with a controversial video — in the hope of inciting “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.” Assange’s stated mission has been to force the U.S. and other governments into maximum transparency through his whistle-blowing website. Through in-depth interviews with Manning’s father, Assange, and others close to the case, veteran Frontline correspondent Martin Smith tells the full story behind the leaks. He also reports on the U.S. government’s struggle to protect national security information in a post 9/11 world.

Julian Assange: A Modern Day Hero?
Inside the World of WikiLeaks

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 30m. Radical and unapologetic, Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange created massive controversy in 2010 by making public a flood of secret correspondence among U.S. government agencies via the WikiLeaks website. As this comprehensive and unbiased examination of Assange’s career illustrates, he was already engaged in distributing “secret” information in the public interest before the revelations that made him world famous. The repeated heading used in the film is “Courage is Contageous.”

Shouting Fire

Documentary 2009 NR. Filmmaker Liz Garbus sheds light on the current state of free speech in America in this documentary, which examines the increase in First Amendment cases generated by both liberals and conservatives in the wake of 9/11. Reflecting on contemporary and historical cases — including The New York Times‘s battle to publish the Pentagon Papers — Garbus explores how fear of an outside enemy has frequently turned Americans against each other.

The Most Dangerous Man in America
Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Documentary 2009 NR 94 minutes. Revisiting a pivotal point in American history, this documentary chronicles Pentagon insider Daniel Ellsberg’s daring endeavor to leak top-secret government papers that disclosed shocking truths about the Vietnam War and Nixon’s presidency.

The Pentagon Papers

Docudrama 2003 R 92 minutes. This compelling political drama is based on the true story of high-ranking Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg (James Spader), who, during the Nixon era, strove to preserve American democracy by leaking top-secret documents to the New York Times and Washington Post. The documents in question would eventually become famous as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the true reasons for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Alan Arkin and Paul Giamatti co-star.

The ACLU Freedom Files

Documentary 2006 NR 2 discs. This 10-part documentary series produced by the American Civil Liberties Union and filmmaker Robert Greenwald shares inspiring stories about Americans whose civil liberties have been compromised. More importantly, the programs chronicle how the people fought back. Combining comedy, drama, music, animation and interviews, Emmy-winning director Jeremy Kagan covers everything from racial profiling to the Patriot Act to religious freedom. Freedom of speech is a given in America, right? Not if you’re Muslim hip-hop poet Amir Sulaiman, or groups of protesters at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2004.

● Dissent: The ACLU Freedom Files: Freedom of speech is a given in America, right? Not if you’re Muslim hip-hop poet Amir Sulaiman, or groups of protesters at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2004.

● Surveillance: The ACLU Freedom Files: From warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and monitoring of emails to the creation of a national identity card, the government is using “national security” as a justification for encroaching on our right to privacy and freedoms of speech and association. But the initiatives are stirring intense opposition from many groups across the political spectrum.

● Youth Speak: The ACLU Freedom Files: Young people in America are often treated as if the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to them. In this episode of The Freedom Files, you’ll meet young people whose rights were violated and who fought back.

Putin’s Kiss

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 24m. This political drama traces the saga of Masha Drokova, a member of a Russian nationalist youth movement who starts to question its beliefs and her belief in Putin. A real true-to-life story of innocence lost and how a political youth movement can act against the interests of a nation as a tool not unlike what transpired under the NKVD, KGB and Hitler Youth. This young woman has her eyes opened slowly, as she has a taste the cult of personality and the power of the former head of the KGB.

The Lives of Others
(Das Leben der Anderen)

Drama 2006 R 138 minutes. In 1984, secret police agent Wiesler is assigned to eavesdrop on a successful but possibly disloyal playwright in East Germany. As the lonely Wiesler learns more about the man and his lover, a prominent actress, he becomes fascinated by their lives.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Docudrama 2005 NR 117 minutes. Arrested for participating in the White Rose resistance movement, anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) is subjected to a highly charged interrogation by the Gestapo, testing her loyalty to her cause, her family and her convictions. Based on true events, director Marc Rothemund’s absorbing Oscar-nominated drama explores maintaining human resolve in the face of intense pressure from a system determined to silence whistle-blowers.


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