The Feeling of Being Watched

Dissonance hosted a free viewing of The Feeling of Being Watched from March 28 to April 7, and on the afternoon of April 7 a discussion with the film's director and Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow Assia Boundaoui. Conversation was facilitated by Wallace House Director Lynette Clemetson, and joined by Roya Ensafi and Tanisha AfnanA recording of the conversation is available below.

About The Feeling of Being Watched 

In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where journalist and filmmaker Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counter terrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community—including her own family—fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.

Speakers

Image of Assia Boundaoui, director and Wallace fellow.

Assia Boundaoui

Director, and Knight-Wallace House Fellow

Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago. She has reported for BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, VICE, and CNN and was the recipient of a first place Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting in Yemen. She directed a short film on hijabi hair salons for the HBO LENNY docu-series, which premiered as an official selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Assia has a Masters degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic. THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED is her feature directorial debut. You can read more about her on the Wallace House page.


Image of Lynette Clemetson, Director of Wallace House.

Lynette Clemetson

Director, Wallace House

Discussion Facilitator

Lynette Clemetson is the Charles R. Eisendrath Director of Wallace House, home of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists at the University of Michigan. She is a Knight-Wallace alum and came to the university from National Public Radio where she was Senior Director of Strategy and Content Initiatives, developing and guiding projects across broadcast, digital and events. Her career in journalism spans newspapers, magazines and audio across a range of platforms. As a reporter, she was a Washington-based correspondent for The New York Times and Newsweek, writing about politics, social issues and demographic change. Prior to her domestic correspondent work, she was an international correspondent for Newsweek based in Hong Kong, where she covered the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. She moved into digital strategy and leadership in 2008 as the founding managing editor of the website TheRoot.com, launched for The Washington Post Company with Henry Louis Gates Jr.. She is also the former Director of Content Strategy at Pew Center on the States. Lynette has a passionate interest in press freedom issues. She serves on the board of Forbidden Stories, an award-winning news organization dedicated to publishing the work of journalists who have been threatened, jailed or killed. Additionally, she is a member of the steering committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She is also on the board of the Student Press Law Center and serves on the advisory council for PBS FRONTLINE.


Image of Roya Ensafi.

Roya Ensafi

Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, U-M

Panelist

Roya Ensafi is an assistant professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on security and privacy, with an emphasis on designing techniques and systems to protect users from adversarial networks. She founded and directs Censored Planet at the University of Michigan. The research lab investigates privacy and security violations on the internet.


Image of Tanisha Afnan, PhD. student, member of SPILab, and panelist for this discussion.

Tanisha Afnan

PhD Student, U-M School of Information

Panelist

Tanisha Afnan is a Ph.D. student at the School of Information, and a member of the Security, Privacy, and Interaction Research Lab (SPILab). Her work primarily centers around the digital privacy concerns of exposure-sensitive populations, especially those who have been historically subjected to targeted surveillance, such as Muslims in America. She is also interested in investigating the role of different social identities, such as religion or gender, in influencing individual digital privacy expectations and preferences.

Thanks to our sponsors for this event:

Wallace House

Dissonance

U-M Information and Technology Services