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In a single recent year the U.S. classified about five times the number of pages added to the Library of Congress. We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge. Depending on whom you ask, government secrecy is either the key to victory in our struggle against terrorism, or our Achilles heel. But is so much secrecy a bad thing?

Secrecy saves: counter-terrorist intelligence officers recall with fury how a newspaper article describing National Security Agency abilities directly led to the loss of information that could have avoided the terrorist killing of 241 soldiers in Beirut late in October 1983. Secrecy guards against wanton nuclear proliferation, against the spread of biological and chemical weapons. Secrecy is central to our ability to wage an effective war against terrorism.

Secrecy corrupts. From extraordinary rendition to warrant-less wiretaps and Abu Ghraib, we have learned that, under the veil of classification, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses. Secrecy throws into the dark our system of justice and derails the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government.

The film SECRECY is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government's ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, SECRECY explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.


Learn more about SECRECY:

See the Film

The Filmmakers

Peter Gallison Director

Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; won a 1998 Pfizer Award (for Image and Logic) as the best book that year in the History of Science; and in 1999 received the Max Planck and Humboldt Stiftung Prize. His books include How Experiments End (1987), Einstein's Clocks,Poincare's Maps (2003), and most recently Objectivity (with L. Daston, 2007). He has worked extensively with de-classified material in his studies of physics in the Cold War. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, ULTIMATE WEAPON: THE H-BOMB DILEMMA has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses and seminars in the United States and abroad.

Robb Moss Director

Robb Moss's film THE SAME RIVER TWICE premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit award, and played theatrically in more than eighty cities across North America. Other films have shown at the Telluride Film Festival, screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As a cinematographer he has shot films in Ethiopia, Hungary, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Turkey—on such subjects as famine, genocide and the large-scale structure of the universe. He was on the 2004 documentary jury at the Sundance Film Festival and has thrice served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute documentary labs. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past twenty years.

Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival


Official Selection

SXSW Film Festival


Tribeca Film Festival


Official Selection


Smart and unexpected, 'Secrecy' combines thoughtful interviews with an elegant visual look to produce an incisive examination of some of the key issues of our time.”

-LA Times

The filmmakers have taken an abstract subject that's crucial to understand …interviewed smart and passionate analysts…woven in touching stories of everyday people impacted by Washington's compulsion to hide information, and added compelling animation and music. The result: A documentary that illuminates, entertains and inspires.”

-San Francisco Chronicle

'Secrecy' is equal parts history lesson, meditative essay, didactic poem and call to arms. Developing its analysis of what it calls 'the modern secrecy system,' ... the movie touches on the push-pull dynamic of the government versus the press; the culture clash between those shaped by the cold-war paradigm of information hoarding and those alert to the networked sensibility of the Internet era; the private toll of covering up; and the great danger to the public of secrecy for its own sake.”

-The New York Times


Partnering with the ACLU, SECRECY has been shown in a dozen cities in conjunction with ACLU initiatives, including in Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Washington D.C.

Panels that have accompanied screenings of Secrecy include:

  • At the Landmark's Opera Plaza, "Need to Know," moderated by Philip Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle; Robert Rosenthal, Dir. of the Center for Investigative Journalism, Berkeley, CA; Ben Wizner, ACLU; and the filmmakers.
  • At the First Amendment Conference, UC Berkeley
  • At the Einstein Forum, Berlin, Germany, "Hidden" with international artists and academics.
  • Conference on New Media, Aberdeen Scotland.
  • Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Keynote panel at the ACLU's annual meeting in D.C. (with Alex Gibney, Peter Gilbert, Ariel Dorfman and Ricki Stern).
  • "Cold War Politics" program at MIT.
  • Gallatin Lectures at New York University.
  • At the Berkman Center, Harvard Law School, with panelists Martha Minow, Johanthan Zitrain and Jack Goldsmith.
  • At the Pacific Film Archive as part of the Human Rights Film Festival.


For further information, please visit:

Outreach Resources

SECRECY Resources