The Big News
As up-to-date as its display of a post-election tweet by Donald Trump — who looms conspicuously large during the film’s opening and closing minutes — “What Lies Upstream” is a quietly devastating documentary that’s all the more attention-grabbing for being such a scrupulously restrained and slickly polished piece of work. Directed by Cullen Hoback, whose equally compelling “Terms and Conditions May Apply” (2013) cogently addressed privacy concerns in the digital age, the film percolates with a nonpartisan paranoia regarding state and federal regulatory agencies while linking the contamination of drinking water in West Virginia to what Hoback perceives as a perfect storm of industry maleficence, government negligence, and bureaucratic malpractice. Continue Reading
We're thrilled to announce that Cullen Hoback's next film, What Lies Upstream, will premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in January as the Opening Night Film! Here is what IndiWire has to say about it: Cullen Hoback’s investigative documentary "What Lies Upstream" will be the Opening Night film. Slamdance has unveiled the special screenings, beyond and shorts programs that will comprise its 2017 lineup. Taking place in Park City, Utah in January – the same time and place as Sundance – the 23rd edition of the film festival will host 35 world premieres, nine North American premieres and 10 US premieres. Continue Reading
Cullen Hoback's interview to The Daily Beast on the AT&T/Time Warner merger: Meanwhile, filmmaker Cullen Hoback—whose 2013 documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply revealed how corporate monoliths like AT&T are collecting so much personal data on Americans that they’re essentially destroying any concept of privacy—predicted that CNN won’t escape the merger’s inevitable fallout. Continue Reading
Beneath the US Capitol building there is one of the swankiest theatres in which I’ve screened my film, Terms and Conditions May Apply, to date. The space is usually reserved for tours during the daytime, but at night if you have the magic key - a Congressman- movie magic can happen for Capitol Hill’s elite. Our magic key was Congressman Justin Amash, a second-term representative from Michigan who made a splash this summer with his stance on government surveillance. He introduced a narrowly defeated amendment (205-217) that would have defunded the mass data collection that Section 215 of the FISA Amendments authorises. It has since become known as the Amash Amendment, and it was the first beacon of hope that Washington might reform the Patriot Act. Continue Reading
Cullen Hoback, the film-maker behind Terms & Conditions May Apply, a documentary on digital privacy, talks to Jemima Kiss about what happened during the screening of the film, and why the USA Freedom Act – introduced by Jim Sensenbrenner,… Continue Reading
I’m a film-maker by trade, so heading to Capitol Hill the other week was a new experience for me. I was there to talk privacy, and in essence, to advocate. I didn’t have the first clue where to begin.… Continue Reading
The stars have aligned for film-maker Cullen Hoback. With the ongoing, unfolding series of sensational stories about surveillance by US and UK security agencies came a new wave of energy and interest around his film Terms & Conditions May… Continue Reading
The term “opting in” suggests a matter of choice. But as the thoughtful and spirited documentary “Terms and Conditions May Apply” makes chillingly clear, choices are few for netizens. It’s nearly impossible to function online without signing away privacy… Continue Reading
The title of “Terms and Conditions May Apply” is unlikely to excite, but the content of this quietly blistering documentary should rile even the most passive viewer. Investigating our casual surrender of privacy rights every time we click… Continue Reading
When he was a brash teenager, Cullen Hoback started a public-access program for the purpose of telling his small town exactly what was wrong with their political thinking. As an adult, he found a more effective way to speak truth to power by becoming a documentary filmmaker. His 2013 doc, Terms And Conditions May Apply, exposed the hidden dangers of online user agreements ahead of the Snowden NSA revelations, was a New York Times Critic's Pick, and was seen by millions worldwide. He hopes to reach even more people with What Lies Upstream, an expose about water contamination three years in the making.
Originally from New York City, John attended Princeton University and traded options on the floor of the American Stock Exchange before succumbing to his liberal roots and moving to California to become a film producer. His last two films, Terms And Conditions May Apply and What Lies Upstream, are social-issue documentaries that have enriched his spirit, if not his wallet. Currently, he's attached to produce two narrative features: Wannabe, a film about a nerdy Jewish boy and brash Caribbean-American girl coming together during NYC's 1991 Crown Heights Riots, and The Pilot, a biopic of Gene Roddenberry during the time he created Star Trek.