Utopia has acquired Participant Media’s feature documentary “Unseen Skies,” which the U.S. distributor will release on Sept. 13.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Yaara Bou Melhem, “Unseen Skies” explores the evolution of state and corporate surveillance. The film follows American artist and geographer Trevor Paglen as he launches an artwork called “Orbital Reflector” into space, visible with the naked eye from Earth, to highlight the global impact of technology in the modern world.
Having achieved international notoriety for his conceptual art, which fuses photography and large-scale multidisciplinary events, Paglen’s work reveals the largely unseen power structures of technology and surveillance that shape, impact and increasingly define the framework of our lives.
A MacArthur Genius award winner and author, Paglen is known for his photography documenting the black ops sites of government surveillance and data collection, as well as installations such as Sight Machine, in which the musical group Kronos Quartet are analyzed by facial recognition algorithms while performing. He also contributed cinematography to Participant’s Oscar-winning documentary “Citizenfour,” directed by Laura Poitras.
Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann executive produced the film along with Ivan O’Mahoney and Nial Fulton of In Films.
Following the doc’s premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival and a successful festival run, the film will be available on all major digital platforms.
Utopia has made a string of acquisitions in recent months, most recently securing global rights to “American Rapstar,” a look at the rise of SoundCloud rappers. The distributor also bought psychedelic musical comedy “Give Me Pity!” and rock documentary “Meet Me In the Bathroom.” Elsewhere, Utopia founder Robert Schwartzman is making a feature documentary on British Invasion band The Zombies.