Documentary About State Secrets Since the Cold War

Secrecy spells out the post-WWII history of state secrets in the U.S., elucidating the conflicts that result when government wants to preserve national security through secrecy while the fourth estate wants to ensure institutional transparency and accountability. Both sides of the argument for keeping state secrets are explored by the filmmakers, Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss (The Same River Twice), who tear a page from documentarian Errol Morris' stylebook in their interweaving of archival photos and footage, black-and-white animated sequences, and interviews of military personnel, a former CIA station chief, a former National Security Administration official, lawyers for Guantanamo Bay inmates, journalists, and other stakeholders in this critical debate.

Review by Jean Oppenheimer, The Village Voice

Few Americans would argue with Winston Churchill's dictum: "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." But the culture of secrecy that has developed within the Bush/Cheney White House has taken that admonition to dangerous extremes. The inherent tension that exists between the public's right to know and the government's need for confidentiality in the service of national security is the subject of Secrecy, a powerful documentary by Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss. In addition to historical footage, the film employs a series of pulsating animated drawings, with the white ink against the black background injecting an appropriately unsettling, even sinister tone. Arguments on both sides of the debate are presented, although the filmmakers have a clear point of view: that the current level of secrecy is harmful. Most chilling is the former CIA station chief who defends secrecy on the grounds that it "allows us the latitude of action to use methods that are not necessarily consistent with our values as a nation."


Free show!

Sat October 4, 2008, 7:00 only, The Film Studies Theater in ATLAS 102

USA, 2008, in English, Color, 85 min, not rated • official site



10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

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(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

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Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

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Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

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