Films on Secrecy


Documentary 2008 NR 81 minutes. 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

United States of Secrets

Documentary Frontline 2014 TV-PG 2 Episodes. “Frontline” investigates the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and continues today. Right after we were attacked by terrorists in 2001, these men in the government stole our civil liberties. The film’s focus is on the National Security Agency (NSA), and its surveillance programs that came to light with the Snowden Leaks. See Full Review

War on Whistleblowers:
Free Press and the National Security State

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 6m. This documentary highlights four cases in which whistleblowers exposed government wrongdoing to the media and faced serious repercussions. Eye-opening, frank, and disturbing, this film is a must watch. This is a very good documentary and is a fraction of what is really going on in our government. The people of this country need to stand up and say NO MORE and start fighting for your rights before they are gone. See Full Review


War, Lies & Videotape

Documentary 2011 NR 56m. This documentary is the story of Wikileaks and follows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, featuring an exclusive interview about his motives behind the controversial website. The thing I like most about “Wikileaks: Wars, Lies and Videotape” is that it shines the spot light on the fact that Wrong is Wrong. There is no such thing as a “Wrong” being “Right” when done by a certain country and not by another. Solid documentary about true heroes. People like Assange and Manning are the real heroes of the world. This documentary is much more unbiased than the other so-called documentary “We Steal Secrets.

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 May24 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. Link to View This Frontline Story for Free (Listed by Date 2011 May24):

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 internet whistleblower 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.”

The Julian Assange Story

Docudrama 2012 NR 1hr 34m. Before becoming the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange was a hacker, one of a group that broke into the networks of some powerful organizations.  This is an immensely interesting look at the controversial computer hacker that presents a very compelling case for the appropriateness of his actions in exposing the US military to public scrutiny. Young Assange’s hacking resulted in discoveries that developed into a quest to reveal the truth about otherwise clandestine actions of the US military. I have been familiar with Wikileaks and the name Julian Assange for years but after seeing Julian’s story, his level of dedication to TRUTH and the peoples’ right to know it, Julian Assange became a genuine hero figure to me and is someone worthy of respect. His dedication and single mindedness is admirable as he has applied this toward positive change. I happen to agree with his philosophy regarding transparency. I’d say we all and especially those who believe in the truth movement owe him a great deal.  It is interesting to see his metamorphosis from a teenager to an adult, how the ideological and technical concept of Wikileaks emerged, and that ultimately Julian Assange has idealistic virtues influencing his actions, regardless of if those actions are legal or morally “right” (depending on who is judging). The most significant drama in the film is the birth of the internet and the battles, legal and ethical, between law enforcement and a new form of protest and rebellion carried out not in the streets but in bedrooms lit only by the glow from a monitor. Assange and his hacking buddies serve as catalysts that ignite the warfare and in doing so begin a long and still unresolved debate regarding the rightness of hacking and leaking information.

The Spy Factory

Documentary Nova 2009 NR 53 minutes. This eye-opening “Nova” special sheds light on the clandestine practices of the U.S. government’s top secret National Security Agency, the world’s largest intelligence outfit, which is responsible for spying within and beyond America’s borders. Based on James Bamford’s best-selling book The Shadow Factory, the program also examines how the threat of terrorism is affecting the agency’s day-to-day operations. The title is a bit misleading. This is a documentary about the failure of intelligence agencies to share information leading up to 9/11. Interesting view on what the NSA intercepted before 9/11 on the hijackers and how that information wasn’t used. Also noted is how the 9/11 Commission focused on other agencies, such as CIA and FBI, while glossing over NSA weaknesses.

CIA: Shocking Stories Behind the Headlines

Documentary 2004 NR 2 discs. In an effort to discover the truth behind some of the most fascinating stories of the past 100 years, documentary filmmakers gained access to CIA files at the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters. From historical events in Vietnam, Moscow, Cuba and Iran, and from historical figures such as the pope and Che Guevara, learn the riveting details that didn’t make headlines in these captivating stories.

The Secret Heartbeat of America

Documentary 2003 NR 104 minutes. On a sultry night in 1987, two high schoolers were mysteriously murdered, their bodies strewn across train tracks to be dismembered by a speeding locomotive. This installment of the “Conspiracy” series explores the killings — later known as “the train deaths” — which led to an exposé of a massive CIA smuggling operation and raised questions about the U.S. government’s involvement in drug and weapons trafficking worldwide.

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.

All the President’s Men

Docudrama 1976 PG 139 minutes. Probably the most infamous case of whistleblowing ever committed. The film that launched a thousand journalism school students, All the President’s Men chronicles how the work of reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) contributed to the public downfall of President Richard M. Nixon. The duo connected a Washington, D.C., hotel break-in with a Nixon “dirty tricks” team assigned to discredit Democratic rivals, launching a series of tense events that forced Nixon to resign. This story of the exposure of the Watergate break-in and subsequent coverup by two Washington Post reporters focuses attention on the inves­tigative journalism that has done so much to make Americans skeptical and even cynical about their nation’s institutions.

The Insider

Docudrama 1999 R 157 minutes. When a TV producer coaxes a researcher to speak about his former employer’s knowledge of tobacco’s dangers, the corporations try to silence them in this Oscar-nominated drama based on a true story. The Insider dramatizes an American tragedy. We have become a nation of people who willfully allow those in power to tell us lies. The government lies to us and the press lies to us, and more often than not we are lied to in order to protect the financial interests of big business. The second tragedy of this film is that so few people have seen it. A cynical person might say that we just don’t want to know. This is one of those films you should see (maybe along with Wall Street, Thirteen Days, All the President’s Men) if you want a (dramatized) picture of how the power-centers in America really operate under extraordinary circumstances – scandal and massive threats, in this case. Michael Mann shows us the forces that impact people when billions of dollars and entire corporations (hence thousands of jobs) are at stake – not to mention the millions of lives perhaps cut short by not understanding the full disclosure behind using a product that kills. To take on a multi-billion dollar industry almost single-handedly, you have to be more than a little nuts – and Russell Crowe does an excellent job of portraying a guy who has the right combination of traits: principled, pissed off, brilliant, and emotionally unstable. Al Pacino also is stellar in his role; he can yell at people like almost nobody else, and you get a full sense of the pressures on his character too, as he stands up to fight for Crowe’s scientist and his own journalistic integrity. Beyond these characters, you also get a flavor for the often-conflicted people who “matter” in the media – the star correspondents, the corporate bigwigs, the legal departments whose job it is to protect the company from disaster, and the tight-knit, first-name-basis web of people at the various publications who really have the power to channel (and spin) stories to millions.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Documentary 2006 PG 91 minutes. Amid a volatile climate of ever-changing gas prices, this documentary delves into the short life of the GM EV1 electric car — a fuel-efficient auto that was once all the rage in the mid-1990s and now has fallen by the roadside. How could such a green-friendly vehicle fail to transform lives? Through interviews with government officials, former GM employees and concerned celebs, filmmaker Chris Paine seeks to find out.

The Tillman Story

Documentary 2010 R 95 minutes. Pat Tillman’s family comes forward to tell the real story about what happened on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan when the pro football player-turned-U.S. soldier was killed by friendly fire and not the Taliban, as first reported. Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary pieces together the Tillmans’ search for the truth, how they exposed a military cover-up that led to top-ranking officers and called to the carpet the likes of Donald Rumsfeld.See Full Review

The Cove

Documentary 2009 PG-13 92 minutes. Reveals slaughter of wild dolphins for food in Japan. Daring animal activists arrive with surveillance equipment at a scenic cove in Taijii, Japan, to capture footage of a secretive and heavily guarded operation run by the world’s largest supplier of dolphins. As the group sets out to expose the horrifying truths behind the capture of dolphins for the lucrative tourist industry, they also uncover an environmental catastrophe. Louie Psihoyos directs this riveting, Oscar-winning documentary.

TWA: Flight 800

Documentary 2013 PG-13 1hr 31m. This provocative documentary examines the fate of TWA Flight 800 to Paris, France, which exploded in 1996 just minutes after takeoff from New York, and includes interviews with official investigators who claim that the catastrophe was no accident. See Full Review

Let’s Make Money

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 47m Let’s Make Money is not about how to make money. This film traces money as it goes through the global finance system — exposing policies and practices affecting the worldwide economy. This film is about the billions, trillions of dollars that go to selfish human greed and not to basic human need. This shows the planetary marketplace from all perspectives: wealthy investors, business owners, bankers, laborers, activists, government officials, impoverished people — from all around the globe. See Full Review

The Official Story
(The Official History, La Historia Oficial)

Drama 1985 NR 110 minutes. Argentinean schoolteacher Alicia (Norma Aleandro) is forced to question her government’s official story of the “Dirty War” of the 1970s when she suspects that her adopted daughter, Gaby, may be the child of a murdered political prisoner. But her quest for truth takes a heavy toll on her relationship with her conservative husband (Héctor Alterio). This wrenching historical drama won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.


Custom Search


Must-See Movies—For What You Need to Know