Aug. 4


Revert the Gaze: The Relationship Between Surveillance and Film in Communities of Color

Filmmaking and viewing is bound in spectatorship. How has the relationship between seeing and watching evolved in our era of hyper surveillance? How does documentary practice reproduce this dynamic? How are filmmakers responding? This panel will also consider the use of filmmaking as a tool to revert the gaze and “watch the watchers.” Confirmed panelistsinclude: Assia Boundaou, Lyric Cabral, and El Sawyer.


Assia Boundaou

Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago. She has reported for the BBC, NPR, PRI, AlJazeera. VICE and CNN. Her debut short film about hijabi hair salons for the HBO LENNY documentary series, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her feature-length debut THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED, a documentary investigating a decade of FBI surveillance in Assia’s Muslim-American community, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. She is currently a fellow with the Co-Creation Studio at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, where she is iterating her most recent work, the Inverse Surveillance Project. Assia has a Masters degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic.

Lyric Cabral

Director Lyric R. Cabral creates investigative work that exposes new information for the public record. Cabral’s directorial debut (T)ERROR was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Documentary and Variety hailed the feature documentary as “a vital exposé.” (T)ERROR has screened at more than 50 film festivals worldwide and is now available for global broadcast on Netflix. Lyric is a recipient of the International Documentary Association’s Emerging Filmmaker Award and has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. A current Field of Vision Fellow, Lyric is a former Sundance Women in Film Fellow and a veteran of Sundance Institute’s Edit Lab and Creative Producing Lab. Cabral is now directing an untitled documentary about R. Kelly’s alleged sex abuses, for Hulu and BuzzFeed News.

El Swayer

El Sawyer is a filmmaker and social justice advocate based in Philadelphia. Drawing on his own experience with incarceration, and re-entry, Sawyer spent 8 years in a maximum security prison, he speaks internationally on the challenges of reentry, recidivism, and neglected communities. EL has won numerous awards for his film and community work; was invited to meet with President Obama about criminal justice reform and was named a 2016 Rauschenberg Foundation Artist-as-Activist fellow. Along with his friend and business partner Jon Kaufman, together they founded Media in Neighborhoods Group (MING). MING is a film/media company that explores and brings awareness to the challenges that persist in underserved sections of society and advocates for solutions. Producing documentaries, and creating video content for government agencies, non-profits, and brands. Over the last decade, MING has consistently offered (informal) professional mentorship for high-risk populations in diverse community settings. In the Fall of 2017, they launched the SHOOTERS program. The goal of the program is to train formerly incarcerated individuals with the skills needed for a career in media and to provide long-term employability.


John Jackson

John L. Jackson, Jr. is Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Anthropology, and Africana Studies. With appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Social Policy & Practice.  Jackson works at the intersection of cultural anthropology, race studies, and new media.