Friday Night Film Series Presents Documentary ‘All Light Everywhere’

The Friday Night Films Series showed “All Light Everywhere” (2021), directed by Theo Anthony, last Friday at 5 p.m. The event was co-sponsored by the film and media studies department and the computer science department. Anthony attended the event via Zoom, and joined the audience for Q&A and conversation about the film after the screening. This film is Anthony’s second feature film and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film explored the layers of surveillance in the modern world and the limitations of human observation in depicting what is “real.” It interrogated surveillance technologies such as body cameras and aerial views that reduce people to a few pixels.

The film follows the evolution of the camera in each stage of its development, critiquing its constant one-sided perspective and harmful uses in the history of science and technology. To reveal the dangers of the surveillance and its targeting nature, the camera is compared to a weapon throughout the film. The film compellingly argues that camera content is inseparable from the ideological perspective of its creator.

Throughout the film, the director included behind the scenes glimpses, showing his decisions on what he chooses to emphasize and leave out. This directorial style established and exposed his narrative form, showing that subjectivity is always present when there is someone behind the camera. The film establishes that every image is constructed and that nothing is fully transparent. No image is objective; every point of view comes with a narrative. There are inherent biases in human perception and in every representation created by the camera. 

 The film addresses that there is a pattern in those who are historically surveyed and who continue to be surveyed. Law enforcement surveillance exists based on the notion that there will continue to be high crime where there has historically been high crime. This style of surveillance exacerbates conventions of targeting low income and urban communities disproportionately more than other ones, following a certain ideological narrative that dictates the perspective and frame of this surveillance. Private surveillance companies, such as Axon, follow this narrative. 

Senior Brian Weber, a discussion leader for the event, asked, “The focus on Axon as a business is predicated on the idea that there will always be crime, while most of what they pitch to the public is focused on ending crime; what allows that fundamental contradiction to persist?”

Anthony answered, “I think it’s the eternal flexibility and creativity of the free market … and that you have a capitalist, free-market system that allows people like Axon to go to community centers with real victims of police brutality and violent crime and sell their technology as bringing accountability to police, and then [have] those same people go to police conventions saying ‘Here is how you are going to get out of a wrongful civil suit and save your department all of this money.’”

Anthony elaborated further on the duplicity of selling surveillance technology to police departments, saying, “Policing and all public institutions are funded by taxpayer dollars; they work for the public. The public should be the customer [of surveillance technologies], not policing departments, but these technologies are pitched from a police-first perspective — legally, commercially, aesthetically — everything at every level is centering a police perspective and their priorities.”

The Q&A with Anthony after the screening provided a very interactive element to the event and gave the students and hosts the opportunity to have reflective conversations about the film. 

Sophomore Dulcie Lou Morris said, “I really enjoyed the film. I like how it was a documentary approach about how nothing is objective, which I think was an interesting contradiction. I also really liked getting to know the filmmaker and hearing his thought processes and directive decisions.”

On Friday, March 4, the Friday Night Film Series will screen its next film “Duty Free” (2020) followed by a Q&A with director Sian-Pierre Regis.