(Theo Anthony, US 2021, 105 min., DCP)
“The eye only sees in each thing that for which it looks, and it only looks for that of which it already has an idea.” — photographer Alphonse Bertillon
The observer effect in psychology suggests that the simple act of observation by an outside person can unintentionally change the way people act and react to situations. Director Theo Anthony (whose Rat Film screened at the Dryden in 2018) takes this idea further by exploring how the observer can purposely influence the way an interaction is perceived, particularly when that interaction is recorded. Preconceived notions, coupled with the historically limited scope of the film frame and the advent of technologies such as facial recognition, high-resolution drone cameras, and bodycams, Anthony argues, have made policing more lopsided than ever. This ambitious, broad-ranging, and experimental documentary considers these ideas and their application in the modern-day United States. Recipient of the special jury award for Nonfiction Experimentation at Sundance 2021.