Sales and distribution company Utopia, co-founded by filmmaker Robert Schwartzman, has swooped on the distribution rights to documentary “Unseen Skies” by Yaara Bou Melhem, a two-time UN Peace Award-winning filmmaker and investigative journalist.
“Unseen Skies” follows conceptual artist Trevor Paglen, known for combining photography and large-scale art, on the final phase of his 10-year endeavor to launch a work of art into space via satellite. Paglen’s art often touches on the issues of mass surveillance and data collection.
“Trevor’s work dispels myths about A.I., including that it is neutral and objective,” said Melhem, who also wrote and produced the feature-length doc.
“We are excited to work with Utopia to share this film with audiences, and hope they come away from the film with the tools to recognize how technologies are opaquely making decisions about our lives,” he continued. “It’s only when we can peer inside the black box and see these largely unseen structures that we can start to do something about them.”
Presented by Participant and Screen Australia in association with Screen NSW, the documentary is an In Films production, and is slated for release later this year.
“Bou Melhem and Paglen have created an extraordinary look at AI’s repercussions not only on larger societal entities, but also on tangible technologies in our daily human consumption,” said Utopia’s Head of Content Danielle DiGiacomo, adding: “Utopia is honored to collaborate with Participant on what we hope is the first of many remarkable films that illuminate the complexities of our time.”
“’Unseen Skies’ is a look into the mind of a groundbreaking artist, who sees hidden infrastructure that can have a profound effect on the lives of average citizens,” concurred Participant CEO David Linde.
A MacArthur Genius award winner and author, Paglen is known for his photography detailing the black ops sites of government surveillance and data collection, as well as installations such as Sight Machine, which featured live musical performances by the Kronos Quartet, and for his contribution of cinematography to Participant’s Oscar-winning film “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’ documentary about massive covert surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden.
Participant’s Rob Williams and Utopia’s Danielle DiGiacomo and Candace Tan negotiated the pact.