Monday, September 27, 2010

EIFF Week: Erasing David

It’s Edmonton International Film Festival Week, and I’m going to make up for missing it last year by seeing as many movies as I can this time around. I’m looking forward to some good documentaries, independent films, and as many Canadian movies as I can stomach.

First up is the documentary “Erasing David” by UK director David Bond.

“David Bond lives in one of the most intrusive surveillance states in the world. He decides to find out how much private companies and the government know about him by putting himself under surveillance and attempting to disappear - a decision that changes his life forever. Leaving his pregnant wife and young child behind, he is tracked across the database state by two ruthless private investigators, on a chilling journey that forces him to contemplate the meaning of privacy - and the loss of it.” - Official Blurb

Everybody likes to think that privacy is important, but every time we skip over an EULA and agree to terms of service, we willingly inching our way towards a voluntary Ingsoc. To access services, both governmental and commercial, we send our information out into the cloud, hoping that the “s” in “https” is security enough to prevent us from being “dataraped” (a term used in the film). So what information about ourselves does the government, big business, and dudes with Google have access to? Everything, apparently.

In “Erasing David” David Bond hires two private investigators to find him in 30 days, givingthem only his name and an eerily over-sized picture to work with. Despite a sequence where he checks his jacket and backpack for bugs/tracers using a spoon, this Bond is no 007. Within the first few days of staking out David’s apartment, they go through his trash and discover, among other things, his credit card number (!), train tickets, and a rough outline of his travel plans. His or his wife’s Facebook page is public (seriously, David?), and from there they glean numerous potential contacts and pictures. Nevertheless, Bond has an engaging spirit, and whether he’s on hold for hours or spiralling into paranoid madness in a grass hut in Wales, he’s an entertaining character to watch.

There’s no moment of great shock and surprise in “Erasing David.” Everything brought forward in the film is something we already knew, could have guessed, or seems reasonable enough. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Hey, the guy that was nailed for child pornography because someone two continents away stole his credit card and subscribed him to a child pornography site? Yeah, that happens, saw something like that in a movie, maybe. Why does this not horrify us!? Why are we not meticulously combing over our credit bills to make sure somebody in Indonesia isn’t destroying our lives over the phone!?

Moral of the story? Buy a damned SHREDDER, people. When I got home from the theatre, I went through every piece of scrap paper in my house. I found my social insurance number, credit card statements, address and date of birth on notes jotted around my computer desk. This is enough for someone to give me a criminal record and ruin my credit, possibly for life.

Track this documentary down and watch it. It’s playing On Thursdsay September 30 at 11:00 AM and Friday October 30 at 11:00 AM. Book the morning off, you’ve earned it. “Erasing David” won’t change your life, but it could change enough of your habits to save you major grief down the road.

Audience Grievance Level: None. It seems like people that show up to a documentary at 10 AM are the sort of dedicated audiences that I like to watch movies with.

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