World’s Greatest Spy Movies – C4 Trailer

UK national TV station, Channel Four, recently aired a programme called “The World’s Greatest Spy Movies”, asking former spooks to comment about the reality (or not) of iconic spy films over the decades. It was a fun interview to do, and here’s the trailer:

TRAILER The World’s Greatest Spy Movies Channel 4 from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

Anything to Say? unveiled in Berlin

Last week artist Davide Dormino unveiled his sculpture celebrating whistleblowers in Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

Called “Anything to Say?”, the sculpture depicts Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange standing on three chairs, with an empty fourth chair beside them, upon which we are all encouraged to stand up on and speak our truth.

Davide invited me to do just that for the unveiling ceremony, along with German MP for the Green Party and whistleblower supporter, Hans Christian Stroebele and Wikileaks’ Sarah Harrison. Here’s a report:

Anything_to_Say?_sculpture_unveiled_in_Berlin from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

The war on drugs funds terrorism

Here is a short excerpt from a panel discussion I took part in after the London premiere of the new cult anti-prohibition film, “The Culture High“. This is an amazing film that pulls together so many big issues around the failed global 50 year policy of the war on drugs. I seriously recommend watching it.

Also in the clip: Brett Harvey (the director of the film) Niamh Eastwood (the director of Release) Jason Reed (executive director of the nascent LEAP UK – watch this space) and comedian and compere Rufus Hound.

wod

Berlin Magical Secrecy Tour

This week Transmediale.de organised a Magical Secrecy Tour around Berlin to mark the anniversary of Edward Snowden’s world-changing disclosures.

And what better place to hold such a tour? Berlin has long been the playground for international spies, fighting the old Cold War in the dirty dark. It also still bears the scars of two totalitarian regimes run out of control – the brute force of the Nazis and the insidious surveillance of the Stasi during the years of the DDR in East Germany.

It is a city that is a living museum, and the tour took us around some key points, including the old Stasi HQ – now a museum – the new billion euro BND mega-complex, the Spy Bridge, and the Spy Hill. It was a stark lesson from history about what spies could do, should do, and are now doing in the modern day.

Here’s an interview:

magicalsecrecy

Berlin Magical Secrecy Tour from Annie Machon on Vimeo.
With huge thanks to Kristoffer and the rest of the Transmediale team for an interesting day.

ZDF TV interview at EMAF

Here is an interview I did for German national TV, ZDF, while speaking at the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrueck in April:

zdfkulturzeit

ZDF Kulturzeit interview about EMAF from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Osnabrueck

The 27th European Media Art Festival began this evening in Osnabrueck, Germany. In the wake of all the global intelligence whistleblowing that has gone on over the last few years, the theme for the artists of 2014 is “We, the Enemy“.

Do visit if you can – a lot of interesting and political art installations are on display, as well as films, music, and talks.  I shall be doing a talk on speaking on Friday afternoon.

I had the pleasure of making a short speech at the opening ceremony this evening, and did an interview for national German TV channel ARD last night to publicise the festival.

ueberwachungskunst

Uberwachungs kunst from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

The Lindmo Show, Norway

Following on from my talk at the Norwegian SKUP investigative journalism conference in March, I was invited onto the Anne Lindmo Show in Norway on 4 May.

Anne is one of the most famous and respected journalists in Norway, and her chat show is extremely popular on prime time NRK TV on Friday nights.  We had a lively session discussing the world of spying, what it was like to blow the whistle and go on the run, and the personal price that has to be paid.

Here’s the link to the whole show, and here’s my segment:

Lindmo interview on Norwegian TV from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller Updated

First they came for the Irish in the 1980s,

But I was not Irish so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the Muslims after 9/11,

But I was not a Muslim, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the “domestic extremists”,

But I was not an activist, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for me;

and there was nobody left to speak up for me.

 

And here’s the original.

Publicity for the film, “The Bank Job” (2008)

I did a PR interview for the 2008 film “The Bank Job”, which was included in the extras on the DVD. 

In the interview I discussed MI5 dirty tricks and spy influence over the media.

Last Man Out

Amstie_poster In July 2008 an excellent film, Last Man Out, was screened at the New York Independent Film Festival.

LMO is a film directed by Jonathan Kerr-Smith and is a documentary following 9/11 survivor, hero, and campaigner on behalf of the families and first responders, William Rodriguez, as he tours the UK and Europe.  I organised the tours and feature in the film.

Film Review of “Secrecy” on Cinepolitics, January 2009

Over the last few years I have been a regular guest on political discussion programmes on the rapidly growing Press TV.  Occasionally I am invited onto the film review show, “Cinepolitics”, by the host (and film maker) Russell Michaels

The film under review is a documentary called “Secrecy”, looking at the stifling effect censorship and the creeping concept of national security have had on democracy in the USA under the former presidential regime.  When this was filmed in January, there was hope that the new presidency might roll this back.  However, “Secrecy” is just as pertinent now that the issue of torture and Guantanamo Bay is being addressed more openly by the media.

The Elephant in the Room

In September an award-winning independent documentary, “The Elephant in the Room” was screened at the Portobello Film Festival in London.

The film, made by British director Dean Puckett, had already won “Best Documentary” at the London Independent Film Festival earlier this year.  At Portobello, Dean won the “Best Director” award.

The film documents Dean’s personal journey and response to the tragic events of 9/11.  In October 2001 he visited New York with his father, who was running in the marathon.  As a budding 19 year old film maker, Dean recorded images of the traumatised city and his personal response to the events, and includes this early footage in the film.

He then goes on to meet activists in the UK and Europe who question the official account, and interview 9/11 hero William Rodriguez and US Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, amongst others.  He also deals sensitively with the first responders who are ill and dying because the US government lied about the safety of the air in NYC after the attacks.  These people are generally ignored and given little help or support.

I helped Dean in some sections of the film, and he accompanied William Rodriguez on the European leg of the speaking tour I organised for him last year – I’m chuffed to have an “Assistant Producer” credit!

The film can be downloaded and watched here.

RSC Play about the Shayler Case

In London in 2001 the Royal Shakespeare Company performed a play called “Epitaph for the Official Secrets Act” by Paul Greengrass (who co-wrote the notorious book “Spycatcher“).  The play focused on the political issues around whistleblowing and the Shayler case.

It was an excellent play, with an intelligent analysis of the current mess that is secrecy legislation in the UK, but it was rather strange to see actors using words your own words on stage.

The following report appeared in “The Observer”:

Shayler is a model spy for MI5 play

by Vanessa Thorpe, Arts Correspondent, 2001

Henry V, Macbeth and Hamlet, the great
Shakespearean protagonists who strut before audiences at
Stratford-upon-Avon, are to be joined tomorrow by a new name, the
former MI5 renegade, David Shayler.

A new play by Paul Greengrass, the screenwriter responsible for ITV’s
upcoming film about Bloody Sunday and for the award-winning television
dramatisation of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence , is to be premiered
tomorrow night by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Epitaph
for the Official Secrets Act will also feature Shayler’s girlfriend,
Annie Machon, and the MI5’s first woman director, Stella Rimington. ‘It
is a play about the year that MI5 first decided to recruit a new sort
of agent,’ explained Simon Reade, the RSC’s dramaturge, referring to
1991, when the secret service briefly turned away from their
established Oxbridge source of graduates and advertised for applicants
from the wider population.

‘The play starts with a
reading of the advertisement that newspapers ran at the time,’ said
Reade, who developed the piece with Greengrass for its six-night run.
‘The ad showed an empty chair under the words “Godot isn’t coming”.’
The play then deals with some of the changes that followed as Rimington
took control of an organisation that was fighting to redefine itself.

Machon and Shayler, both from the graduate intake that was then new, are identified only by their first names.

News of their theatrical debut came as a shock to Shayler and Machon,
who are in London awaiting Shayler’s trial on charges of breaching the
Official Secrets Act. Machon said: ‘It is rather alarming to find that
we are both going to played by actors.’