Film Journal Review: 1971

By Doris Toumarkine.

Highly engaging International Documentary Association award winner about the headline-grabbing 1971 anti-war Media, Pa. FBI office break-in is a skillfully mounted amalgam of familiar genre elements that benefits mightily from superb re-enactments, the palpable integrity of its activist band of break-in artists, and some Rififi-like suspenseful moments.

Filmmaker Johanna Hamiliton achieves something quite special with 1971, which features the highly secretive activist coalition that called itself “The Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI” coming forward to tell their story for the first time. The film rewards viewers both familiar and unfamiliar with the historic break-in and ensuing exposé that lead to revelations of illegal FBI tactics (intimidations, violations of First Amendment rights) in the Bureau’s efforts to stem dissent. The break-in also brought about Congress’ first investigation into these illicit intelligence agency operations and spurred closer oversight.

For those of a certain age and leftist bent, there’s an additional bonus of nostalgia for a year when anti-war (and civil rights) activism and government paranoia about that activism were peaking. Many decades before the Edward Snowden digital “break-in,” NSA and WikiLeaks scandals and even a year or so shy of Watergate, the eight activists in Philadelphia, suspecting FBI malfeasance, met secretly to plan their counteroffensive. [READ FULL ARTICLE HERE]

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