Web, by director Michael Kleiman, is a fantastic documentary film for ITGS classes. It takes a refreshing look at Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, with a clear, thoughtful, and detailed examination of the Internet's impact on society. The film focuses on Lidia, a young girl in the remote village of Palestina in the Peruvian Amazon, and the effect of the OLPC on her, her family, and her village.
I found that by focusing on one small village the film provides a much more intimate and detailed account of the effect on technology and will give ITGS students concrete examples that are great for discussion. As well as raising the obvious issues of Equality of Access, the film raises many issues related to Globalization and Cultural Diversity - in one scene Liana's class start their own Wikipedia page about their village, and in another Liana introduces her father to Google for the first time. The effect of introducing the Internet to this remote village - both positive and negative - is something that could be discussed in class for a long time afterwards.
Web is currently only available online. It can be purchased or rented, and there is also a free trailer available: Web (2014).
Citizen Four is an academy-award winning documentary about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked classified information which led to revelations of global surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies. The documentary primarily features interviews conducted with Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room by journalists Laura Poitras , Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill. These are interpersed with archive footage of press revelations and government responses.
The documentary focuses primarily on the moral and philosophical implications of a surveillance state which, although quite abstract, can make for great classroom viewing material for ITGS students. The documentary works well when tied in with the myriad news articles that have been written on the subject and a discussion of how technical capabilities can often develop quicker than legalisation and understanding of their social implications.
Surrogates can be purchased or rented. There is also a free trailer available online: Surrogates.
Oliver Stone's film covers Edward Snowden's life from working in the US Army and applying to the CIA, to joining the NSA. The story culminates, of course, in his leaking of classified document to the press.
Snowden is faster and more action based than documentaries like Citizen Four. That said, unlike many films based on real events, it doesn't tend to dramatize or composite storylines or characters. For ITGS students this is a good thing, as it provides plenty of factual material to work with. The technical details about how mass surveillance is performed and a discussion of the larger impacts are not quite to the level required by ITGS students, but they should provide a good basis for classroom discussion and debate.
Snowden didn't really win a large amount of praise when it was released (many felt the film played it too safe). However, I found it quite entertaining and it certainly generated quite a discussion in my class after we had finished watching it.