On March 8, 1971, a group of eight political activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and removed every file from the room. The documents contained evidence of the federal government’s secret efforts to spy on its own people—a revelation that, when it became public, led to the first-ever Congressional investigation into an American intelligence agency.
The activists were never caught.
Now, 43 years later, the men and women who carried out the crime—the self-titled Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI—have publicly revealed themselves for the first time in director Johanna Hamilton’s fine new documentary, 1971. The film explores the planning, execution, and impact of the Media break-in from the perspective of the activists: the university professor who led the group, the wife and mother who posed as a journalist to case the inside of the office, and the college dropout who picked the locks. The fast-paced plot unfolds dramatically and brings the viewer face to face with a question that has never been more important than it is today: What risks are worth taking in order to expose abuse of government power?
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