Does government surveillance really get your goat? (To be honest I have never really understood that expression but I am just going to run with it.) Is your ideal evening spent watching documentaries on the deep state? If so, then you’re in luck.

In a new film fest running today through Aug. 5 — ominously titled “Spy vs. Us” — the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in the East Village takes on national security and the surveillance state. Even better, like last year’s MoRUS-sponsored film and theater festivals, this year’s festival screenings will occur in the lovely environs of several community gardens. Tonight’s opening screening takes place in the roof garden of Alphabet City’s fabled Umbrella House.

For those unfamiliar, MoRUS is a non-profit and volunteer-run intellectual hub and “living archive” for the East Village/Alphabet City squatting and urban homesteading communities. It’s located in C-Squat, a former squatting commune, now government-sanctioned, and it studies and advocates for community gardens and experimental and cooperative living.

With a “focus on a range of techniques used by the government to spy on and disrupt community groups, including environmental, civil rights, and anti-war organizations,” the festival selections probe the history of COINTELPRO and other projects of domestic intelligence-gathering in the US. The fest includes a screening of Citizenfour, the well-known Laura Poitras doc about Edward Snowden. Here’s the lineup:


Opening Night: Wednesday, August 2nd, 8:30pm
Umbrella House roof garden, 21 Ave C
**(Accessibility Note: The building does not have an elevator. Access to rooftop requires climbing six flights of stairs)
2014 – Film directed by Johanna Hamilton – Runtime: 79 min
The FBI was unaccountable and untouchable until 1971, when a group of ordinary citizens uncovered its illegal domestic spying programs.

Cointelpro 101 & Still We Ride
Thursday, August 3rd, 8:30pm
6B Community Garden, corner of East 6th St. and Ave. B
Cointelpro 101, 2010 – Documentary directed by Freedom Archives – Runtime: 56 min
Cointelpro 101 exposes illegal surveillance, disruption, and outright murder committed by the US government in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
Still We Ride, 2013 – Documentary directed by Andrew Lynn, Elizabeth Press & Chris Ryan – Runtime: 37 min
Still We Ride showcases how group bicycle rides in New York City faced harassment by police during a crucial growth period of the cycling movement.

The Informant
Friday, August 4th, 8:30pm
Orchard Alley Garden, East 4th St. Between Ave. C and D
2011 – Film directed by Jamie Meltzer – Runtime: 81 min
The Informant delves into the life of Brandon Darby, a community organizer turned FBI informant.

Closing Night: Saturday, August 5, 8:30pm
La Plaza Community Garden, SW corner of 9th Street and Ave C
2014 – Documentary directed by Laura Poitras – Runtime: 94 min
Citizen Four followed Laura Poitras as she encountered with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong before he handed over classified documents providing evidence of mass illegal invasions of privacy by the NSA.

A “limited supply” of festival passes will be on sale for $20, available through Eventbrite or at MoRUS. For those without passes who want to attend individual screenings there is a suggested donation of $6. MoRUS is located at 155 Avenue C, but the screenings (as noted above) will be held at different locations.