Film

You have been erased

If you’re into Fair Go, James Bond or Midsomer Murders, you’ll be into a bit of this. Erasing David is David Bond’s first feature film; a ‘docu-drama’ of surveillance and control. Weaving Orwellian themes of compliance vs resistance…

Erasing David

If you’re into Fair Go, James Bond or Midsomer Murders, you’ll be into a bit of this.

With an award-winning director, producer and writer, Erasing David is David Bond’s first feature film; a ‘docu-drama’ of systems glitches, surveillance, micromanagement, and control.

Weaving Orwellian themes of compliance vs resistance, citizenship vs anarchy, David highlights the creep factor in the superfluous nature of extensive personal data collection.

As the beginning sequence unfurls, David Bond is shown packing for what he hopes to be an epic escape across Europe, leaving pregnant wife and child in attempt to disappear from surveillant society. Two top private investigators are given his name, and just 30 days in which to find him…He lasts only 13. What follows is a very personal journey in understanding the system, the notion of freedom, and the frightening truth stories of information mismanaged.

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" one privacy expert touts facetiously. End of story? Not so for some. We are introduced to characters such as Emma Budd, who, after applying for a childcare job and completing all the normal procedures of a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check is refused approval, as a similar name and same date of birth surfaces holding a shoplifting offense. She is forced to apply the following year, only to be accused, and refused again.

Certainly, as the film progresses one can see the chilling implications of so many pieces of published (or gathered) personal data, that these systems glitches happen to affect innocent people; the United Kingdom’s Operation Ore of 1999 claimed 39 suicides for false implications of sex offense, demonstrating a crude utilitarian approach to governance and surveillance.

Well paced and fitted with an informative dose of expert interviews, Erasing David boasts a chilling score by Michael Nyman (The Piano), while extreme close ups of David’s furrowed brow set to a ticking stopwatch and train tracks set a mood of panic, paranoia and suspense. It is clear mid-film that David is either extremely neurotic, or is working himself into a near-psychotic frenzy, as he takes apart his whole kit, unscrewing electronics, ironing every item of clothing, even disassembling his teddy bear in search of a bug. Either way the drama works for him.

Once caught, David is speechless at the shrine of information his private investigators have gathered on him; he speaks of being ‘data-raped’, and vows to keep the lives of his children much less public. ‘Erasing David’ highlights a timely lesson in prudence, flagging the importance of thoughtful form-filling and information sharing, in favor of true freedom and autonomous citizenship.

Part of the Documentary Edge Festival. For details please see www.documentaryedge.org.nz

by Emma Schoombie, 2 February 2011.

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