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On March 8th, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, PA. Calling themselves the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, they removed every file in the office. Mailed anonymously, the stolen documents started to show up in newsrooms. The heist yielded a trove of damning evidence. The most significant revelation was COINTELPRO, a controversial, secret, illegal surveillance program overseen by lifelong Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover. Despite one of the largest investigations ever conducted, the FBI was unable to catch the burglars. Those responsible have never revealed their identities. Until now. For the first time the burglars have decided to speak about their actions. 1971 ...

  • DirectorJohanna Hamilton
  • Runtime: 1 hr 19 min
  • StudioBlue Ice Docs Inc.
  • QualityHD

Reviews about 1971

Bob Cofer
Five Stars

Great reminder of many things I had forgotten. Our country has always been this bad....

Janis L McCarthy
I saw this movie first on a flight-I quickly became ...

I saw this movie first on a flight-I quickly became riveted. The story is one that I did not know-that a small band of protesters were successful in taking down the local FBI office and drawing attention to the incredible wrongs that the FBI were doing to everyday American citizens. In this day and age, and in this political climate, YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE.

An important, compelling history

In spite of the fact that I knew the "ending" of the story, 1971 does a wonderful job of telling a thrilling story. It also provides context, filling in a great amount of information about the climate of the time and how our nation got to this. The "burglars" were brave people and serve as an inspiration to us all.

David Brown
1971 (2014 film) Is an outstanding documentary entitled ‘1971’. ...

1971 (2014 film) Is an outstanding documentary entitled ‘1971’. Sincerely wish everyone could watch this. Puts a lot in perspective and provides original sourced facts and personal drama demonstrating what a few average American citizens did back in 1971 to push back against the growing abuse and tyranny of the U.S. Federal Government. After watching this documentary, it is clear to see how we have been nudged since that time into a Panopticon as a result of 9/11. These young people –some with families– realized America had a serious problem and risked everything to fight for America and for her freedom. -David Brown

Synopsis from Wikipedia The film focuses on the events of March 8, 1971, when eight people broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. The group, all of whom were ordinary citizens, called themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI and stole every file in the office. The content in the stolen files ranged from training manuals to information about organized crime and draft resistance. Over time the group mailed the files to various newsrooms. One of the more significant elements in the stolen materials were files relating to COINTELPRO, a secret surveillance program that was run by J. Edgar Hoover.

Steve Ramm
Review of the DVD (and SUPER bonus feature) – Before Watergate and Wikileaks there was the Media, PA break –in of the FBI office

I’ve worked or lived in Philadelphia since 1966 and I’m honestly shocked that I was not aware of the event that took place on March 8, 1971 in Media, PA (just 12 miles from Philly). A group of eight ordinary citizen planned a break-in to the FBI office in Media and stole all the files which they then turned over to the newspapers – exposing the corruption in the FBI. Yes, this was BEFORE Woodward and Bernstein.

The “burglars” (who called themselves the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate The FBI”) were never caught and the statute of limitations expired. So in 2014 they decided their story needed to be told and they met with documentary filmmaker Johanna Hamilton – who gathered archival footage from the participants (amazing stuff!) and then had actors recreate the scenes of the actual break-in. The result is a must-see 79 minute film!

I see that a number of reviews posted here are from folks who saw the film on PBS/ What they are missing is the wonderful “bonus feature” on the DVD. It is a 95 minute panel discussion about the film with Hamilton and most of the Commission (the oldest had passed away). They also had a “special guest” via satellite TV – Edward Snowden. Though Snowden is promoted on the package, he is – IMHO – less interesting than the others on the panel. The recording of this panel was made with one camera in the back of the room and is far from high-tech. At quite a few pints at the beginning, we hear Snowden talking but the camera is not focusing on the TV monitor. This was a bit annoying, but once I concentrated on the audio and what was being said, that annoyance went away. And – to be honest – I’ve only watched half of that bonus so far – I have the rest to finish this week.

The DVD has both English and Spanish Subtitles

This is an important story and it did bring about changes in the FBI. I am thankful that First Run Features is giving it a home-video release with that bonus panel. This DVD also belongs in every school library and should probably be part of every civics history course.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”

Kathleen Kiefer
amazing how nothing has really changed

Know your history. The first exposed government surveillance of US citizens.....amazing how nothing has really changed. More amazing was the ease that these brave young people were able to do what they did. So different now. They are hero's just as Edward Snowden is. So much has changed, and yet so little. Wow - well worth the watch.

Amazon Customer
Revealing the Shadow History of U.S. Social Movements

1971 is an enjoyable documentary revealing a period of U.S. history that is never taught in classrooms. The secrecy of institutions like the FBI looms as a shadow behind almost every single social movement and grassroot movement in the U.S. history. It's important to remind ourselves through storytelling that this is part of the story -- that with every push towards new visions, there is always a strong pull back towards conservatism. This pull towards conservatism that is rooted in the strong urge to reinforce old values and traditions can manifest in ugly power usurpation.

I appreciated the story that 1971 tells, and appreciated the way it told the story. I was drawn towards this movie after watching The Black Panther that was recently released!

Recent news about 1971

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Directed by debutante Sankalp Reddy, Ghazi' is based on the sinking of Pakistani submarine Ghazi off the Vizag coast during the India-Pak war of 1971. The film has Rana Daggubati, Tapsee Pannu, KayKay Menon and Om Puri playing lead roles.
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