Saeed “Shariff” Torres, a counterterrorism informant for more than two decades, takes on what he swears is his last job for the FBI and invites filmmakers to follow his covert efforts to befriend a suspected jihadist – without informing his superiors. As surprising revelations emerge, not only about Torres’ past, but also about the increasingly murky ethical grounds of his present mission, (T)ERROR, a documentary that explores just how far we are going to prevent terror and exactly what liberties we are sacrificing to get there.
“One of the best documentaries of 2015.”
“Riveting”; “An absolute must-see”
“A vital exposé.”
“A farce and a political drama rolled into one…GRIPPING.”
“A stunning, infuriating indictment of the…war on terror.”
Sight & Sound Magazine
“A fascinating piece of work that approaches CITIZENFOUR in its deconstruction of governmental failure and the systems underneath the war on terror that are not only failing to keep us safe but impacting the entire world political scene.”
Special Jury Prize – Sundance Film Festival (2015)
Grand Jury Prize – Full Frame Film Festival (2015)
Best Documentary (nominee) – Independent Spirit Awards (2015)
F:ACT Award (special mention) – CPH:DOX (2015)
Best Documentary – Dallas Video Fest (2015)
Emerging Filmmaker Award – International Documentary Association (2015)
Directors to Watch – Indiewire (2015)
2nd Best Documentary of the Year 2015 – Paste Magazine
David Felix Sutcliffe is a Sundance award winning documentary filmmaker. In 2013, he was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s annual list of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His first film, ADAMA (PBS, 2011), is an hour-long documentary that explores the story of a 16-year-old Muslim girl growing up in Harlem who was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of being a “potential suicide bomber.” (T)ERROR, co-directed with acclaimed photojournalist Lyric R. Cabral, is his feature-length documentary debut, and marks the first time that filmmakers have had access to an active FBI informant in a domestic counterterrorism investigation. (T)ERROR premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature. Along with (T)ERROR co-director Cabral, Sutcliffe was honored by the International Documentary Association with the 2015 Emerging Filmmaker Award. In 2014, he was selected as a fellow for the Sundance Institute’s Edit and Story Lab, as well as their Creative Producing Lab. His work as a filmmaker has been funded by the BBC, the NEA, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Institute, and the Independent Television Service.
Lyric R. Cabral is a New York-based filmmaker and photojournalist who documents stories seldom seen in mainstream media. In support of her verité work, Cabral has received artist grants from BBC Storyville, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Institute, the Independent Television Service, NYSCA, the International Documentary Association, and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund. Cabral recently completed (T)ERROR, her first feature length documentary, co-directed with David Felix Sutcliffe, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature. Cabral, along with co-director Sutcliffe, was honored by the International Documentary Association with the 2015 Emerging Filmmaker Award. (T)ERROR was also a recipient of the 2013 Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant, awarded by the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. In 2013, Cabral was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Her photography has been recently published through Aperture Foundation, National Geographic Channel UK, the Nation, and the Village Voice, and is currently on exhibition with “Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument.”
Christopher St. John (The House I Live In, Reagan, Freakonomics) is a producer and journalist with broad experience in print, broadcast and documentary film. He began his career in production at ABC News, working for Good Morning America before moving to the News Magazine division, where he contributed extensively to 20/20 and Primetime. Prior to producing (T)ERROR, he produced THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (BBC/ITVS, 2012), which won the 2012 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and received wide theatrical release in the fall of 2012. Christopher also co-produced FREAKONOMICS (Magnolia, 2010) and the Emmy Award winning REAGAN (HBO, 2011). Prior to entering production, he served as a regional correspondent in Southeast Asia for a number of US and international publications.
About Documentary Fundamentals:
A nuts-and-bolts professional development series designed for the emerging or intermediate documentary filmmaker, Documentary Fundamentals @ UnionDocs is a six-part program taking place over the course of one weekend. Registrants can also attend individual sessions. This curriculum developed out of our experience hearing what fundamentals documentarians need to understand to plan, produce, and release an independent documentary today.
Hosted by (T)ERROR’s co-director David Felix Sutcliffe and producer Christopher St. John, Documentary Fundamentals is essential learning for the documentary filmmaker, covering business basics, fundraising and financing, production and post-production strategies, transmedia campaigns, sales and distribution models. Each session features expert guest speakers sharing tips and secrets of the trade, with an emphasis on real-life case studies and best practices. For 2016, the series will use the feature documentary (T)ERROR as a case study. (T)ERROR was co-directed by Sutcliffe and Lyric R. Cabral, and produced by Christopher St. John. It premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival where it received the Special Jury Award for Break Out First Fearure. The film also screened at Full Frame (Grand Jury Prize), True/False, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, Human Rights Watch and CPH:DOX, among others. It received support from the most prestigious granting institutions such as ITVS, Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg, Tribeca Film Institute, Firelight Media, NYSCA, Pare Lorentz/IDA and Bertha BritDoc, and participated in pitch forums and film labs such as IDFA Pitch Forum, Tribeca All Access (won Creative Promise Award), IFP, and the Sundance editing and producing labs.
Documentary Fundamentals is designed for filmmakers with projects at any stage of development or production (even the daydreaming stage!). Sessions combine formal presentations with extensive time for in-depth discussions with participants.
Registrants completing all six sessions will have special opportunities to promote their projects within the UnionDocs network.
Full guest speaker list to be announced. Specific guests and topics are subject to change.
Documentary Fundamentals Full Schedule:
FRI 6/24 – 7:30PM | Planning Your Documentary – with attorney Fernando Ramírez (Law Office of Fernando Ramírez), Yoruba Richen (The New Black) and Christopher St. John (T)ERROR)
SAT 6/25 – 11:00AM | Financing Your Documentary – with José Rodríguez (Director of Documentary Programs, Tribeca Film Institute), Elise McCave (Deputy Director of BRITDOC), Tamir Muhammad (Director of Content & Artist Development, Time Warner)
SAT 6/25 – 2:30PM | Directing and Shooting Your Documentary – Malika Zouhali-Worrall (Thank You for Playing, Call Me Kuchu) and David Felix Sutcliffe (T)ERROR)
SAT 6/25 – 5:00PM | Editing Your Documentary – with editor Mona Davis (The Farm: Angola USA) Nyneve Laura Minnear ((T)ERROR, Girl With Black Balloons), and colorist Eric Alvarado ((T)ERROR, Mala, Mala)
SUN 6/26 – 1:00PM |Post: Graphics, Music, Archive – with composer Robert Miller ((T)ERROR, Particle Fever) and Rosemary Rotondi (Citizenfour, Our Nixon), Penny Lane (NUTS!, Our Nixon)
SUN 6/26 – 4:00PM | Releasing Your Documentary – David Reilly (Programmer BAMcinématek) and Merrill Sterritt (Head of Audience Strategies Cinereach) and Dan Berger (President of Oscilloscope Laboratories)