On DVD/VOD: PRE-CRIME

New to DVD and VOD this week:
PRE-CRIME

Directors:
Monika Hielscher and Matthias Heeder

Premiere:
Hot Docs 2017

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, DOK.fest Munich, Hamburg, Chicago, Tel Aviv Human Rights, Zurich, Docs Against Gravity

About:
Controversial “predictive policing” methods are used to identify likely perpetrators of future crimes.

Taking as its title the term coined by Philip K Dick in his 1956 story “The Minority Report,” Hielscher and Heeder’s film explores the present-day employment of big data surveillance and predictive algorithms by police to identify suspects who are supposedly at high-risk of becoming criminals. Understandably such systems are deeply troubling for their potential to be misused, primarily to encourage racial or economic profiling and harassment; or, frankly, to be inaccurate, targeting innocent people because of circumstantial associations. It’s a fascinating, disturbing topic, but unfortunately, one that is not particularly well-developed here. Despite overly-slick production values, including some nice graphics, the film is overlong and repetitive, and includes the bizarre choice to include intermittent, superfluous, and distracting scenes featuring Heeder at the ocean contemplating the issues and making strange little sketches.

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