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James Schamus: ‘Thank You to Edward Snowden’

Focus Features opens 'Closed Circuit' in NYC

An intimate crowd gathered for the screening of Focus Features’ latest pic, “Closed Circuit,” at the Tribeca Grand Hotel Aug. 19.

“Thank you to Edward Snowden for helping keep it alive,” Focus Features CEO James Schamus said in regard to the British legal thriller’s relevancy.

Helmer John Crowley said one of the reasons he was drawn to the script was that it raised “a few interesting questions that felt quite relevant when we started out and now it feels sort of shockingly relevant with a lot of the stuff that’s being debated here in this country right now.”

“There are thousands and thousands and thousands of cameras operating New York City as we speak,” said Schamus. “As you conducted your daily life here in New York City, you were probably recorded on over 300 cameras.”

The same goes for London, to an even larger extent.

“Apparently London is the most surveyed city in the free world, outside of Russia and China. And that’s happened in the time that I’ve lived in London in the last 16 years,” Crowley said.  “And nobody, with a handful of commentators and newspapers that I know of, has been making noise about it. Now, that either means that people are genuinely okay with it because they feel a little bit safer and it cuts down on crime, or nobody notices. And I’m not entirely sure which it is.”

Filming “Closed Circuit” certainly opened Crowley’s eyes to surveillance. “When we went to Marylebone train station as a possible location for these guys getting off the train, as anyone who has looked up at the clusters of cameras, we were blown away by the number of them,” he said. People become blind to them very quickly.”

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