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‘(T)ERROR’ Filmmakers Talk Their Deliberately Unsettling Documentary

Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s Sundance documentary T(ERROR) follows an informant working on an undercover counterterrorism sting operation for the FBI and brings up issues ranging from first-amendment rights to Islamophobia.

Says Sutcliffe to Realscreen about the FBI’s use of informants to corroborate domestic terrorism cases, “I thought it was incredibly problematic on a political level, and incredibly fascinating on a dramatic level.

Despite the covert shoot, which follows a 63-year-old man named Shariff during undercover operations, both Cabral and Sutcliffe were keen on conveying the right tone with their cinematography. “Lyric and I are journalists,” says Sutcliffe. “We want to hold up the highest standards of journalism but we’re also artists. We love images. We love cinema and we wanted the film to capture what we were feeling at that time: feelings of paranoia and being chased.”

“It was about giving the audience the perception of surveillance and what it feels like to be spied upon,” adds Cabral. “We’re spying on the informant while he’s spying on the target. We’re hoping the cinematography really brings the audience into that experience.”

Sutcliffe also adds that the response to the film has been “very strong” and “very positive.” “There are a number of activists who have been working on this issue for a long time who said: ‘I’m confused. I don’t know how I feel right now,’” he explained. “That’s an important take away. We want to unsettle people and really shake up people’s preconceptions about the war on terror, Islamophobia, and the FBI’s use of informants.”

Read the full story here.