A personal journey that unfolds like a thriller, The Feeling of Being Watched charts journalist Assia Boundaoui’s investigation into a secret FBI counterterrorism probe of her Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago – code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal”- and its enduring impact on her family and community. The Feeling of Being Watched will World Premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, running April 18 to 29, 2018.
In the village of Bridgeview, Illinois, where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her Muslim-American neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers hundreds of pages of declassified FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11.
With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community—including her own family—fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.
The Feeling of Being Watched was written and directed by Assia Boundaoui and produced by Boundaoui and Jessica Devaney. Director of photography was Shuling Yong and the film was edited by Rabab Haj Yahya with illustrations by Molly Crabapple and original music by Angélica Negrón. Executive producers are Jim Butterworth, Daniel J. Chalfen, Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Debra Mcleod, Jay K. Sears, Bill Harnisch, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Alexa Poletto, Michael D. Mann, Barry W. Rashkover, and Vijay Dewan.
Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist who has reported for the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, VICE, and CNN. Her debut short, a film about hijabi hair salons for the HBO Lenny documentary series, premiered at Sundance in 2018, and she has worked in an editorial capacity on the production of a number of documentaries, including HBO’s Emmy Award-winning Manhunt (2013). Assia has a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic. The Feeling of Being Watched is her feature debut.
Tribeca Film Festival Screenings
Saturday, April 21, 6:45 pm
Cinepolis Chelsea 2, 260 W. 23rd St. (at 8th Ave.)
Sunday, April 22, 7:30 pm
Cinepolis Chelsea 3, 260 W. 23rd St. (at 8th Ave.)
*A special extended Q&A panel discussion will follow the screening
Wednesday, April 25, 5:45 pm
Regal Battery Park 3, 102 North End Ave. (at Murray St.)
Thursday, April 26, 5:00 pm
Cinepolis Chelsea 6, 260 W. 23rd St. (at 8th Ave.)