Digital Dissidents (Documentary)

What is the difference between people like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, hackers like Jeremy Hammond or the crypto specialist Jacob Appelbaum and us – “normal” people who accept the conditions shrugging? What are they fighting for, what is the motivation for their actions? And where do they get the courage to pick a fight with the most powerful institutions of our time while risking their careers, their normal lives and their freedom? And what are their conflicts and contradictions?


Digital Dissidents (Documentary)

What is the difference between people like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, hackers like Jeremy Hammond or the crypto specialist Jacob Appelbaum and us – “normal” people who accept the conditions shrugging? What are they fighting for, what is the motivation for their actions? And where do they get the courage to pick a fight with the most powerful institutions of our time while risking their careers, their normal lives and their freedom? And what are their conflicts and contradictions?

During the film “Digital Dissidents” we meet eight protagonists who fight for different reasons against the surveillance in the digital world. Whistleblower like Snowden and Drake have worked in the core of the system in high-profile positions for a long time. They are American patriots who oppose the violation of the Constitution. In contrast, hackers and cyber punks like Julian Assange or Jeremy Hammond attack the system from the outside. Whereas Crypto warriors like Jacob Applebaum develop tools, which make monitoring difficult or impossible. And then there’s the group of lawyers and journalists who are committed to defending the rights of dissidents.

The film is thematically structured and shows the process by which the protagonists as normal members of society have become dissidents: we experience their motives and reasons, get a deep insight into their difficult choices, moral conflicts and contradictions. We see what has caused their actions in a positive and negative way and we learn how the intelligence agencies, corporations and governments fight the dissidents.

We are also interested in the perspective of senior intelligence employee, as the former NSA chief Michael Hayden. With the father of all whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, we discuss whether there is a moral obligation not to look away and reveal dark machinations. Interviews with experts such as the FAZ journalist Yvonne Hofstetter or the lawyer and programmer Ahmed Ghappour help us to classify and understand the stories of the dissidents.

So we get a fascinating insight into the world of digital dissidents, in their biographies and current life circumstances. We learn why Berlin is a place of refuge and why San Francisco is the seedbed of the movement. And finally, there is the question: Are these people born as dissidents or did certain circumstances change them?

“Digital dissidents” is the first documentary that covers the subject in wide range to gain deep insight into the motives and circumstances of digital dissidents.

Director: Cyril Tuschi
Script: Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Cyril Tuschi
Director of Photography: Peter Dörfler
Creative Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler
Junior Producer: Zora Nessl
Executive Producer: Christian Beetz
Commissioning editor WDR: Christiane Hinz, Thomas Kamp

Coproduction

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