What is an objective point of view? Sundance doc ‘All Light, Everywhere’ provides thought-provoking answers.

Filmmaker Theo Anthony examines the complex web of cameras, policing, and justice in the thought-provoking documentary ‘All Light, Everywhere.’

Filmmaker Theo Anthony examines the complex web of cameras, policing, and justice in the thought-provoking documentary ‘All Light, Everywhere,’ Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute.

A documentary that begins with an intimate view of the human optic nerve and shifts towards discussions on the transits of Venus across the Sun and nineteenth-century photography inventions like The Photographic Rifle is guaranteed to inspire new ideas. ‘All Light, Everywhere’ lands in the growing non-fiction genre of films about data, identity, privacy, and social justice; filmmaker and editor Theo Anthony tells a complex story of body cameras, policing, and community in the risk-taking and thought-provoking documentary ‘All Light, Everywhere.’ 

Making its premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the all-digital Sundance Film Festival 2021 and winner of a Special Jury Prize for Nonfiction Experimentation, ‘All Light, Everywhere,’ challenges audiences to take a sprawling journey from the Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters of Axon Enterprise, a manufacturer of technology and weapons products, to the training rooms at the Baltimore Police Department, a sizable Axon customer. Anthony asks a lot of his audience, but the film rewards with unique visual storytelling and an innovative look at police surveillance.  

Footage of Baltimore police officers and community activists debating the values of police body cameras and aerial surveillance cameras delivers the cinematic equivalent of a Socratic dialogue around identity and imagery. Anthony’s filmmaking goal is to define an objective point of view and show if technology can achieve that task. ‘All Light, Everywhere’ feels overwhelming at times; you wish Anthony spent less time touring the offices of Axon Enterprise. The film regains its momentum when Anthony returns to historical footage showing the genealogy of photography from French ethnologist Alphonse Bertillon and the Bertillon System, a method for identifying future criminals, to Julius Neubronner and the invention of the small automatic camera strapped to pigeons. Anthony skillfully edits between historic footage showcasing early photography innovation and videos featuring new Axon products. ‘All Light, Everywhere’ delivers a deep dive into the world of police tech and 24/7 surveillance. These are weighty topics. Thankfully, Anthony’s risk-taking results in a thoughtful movie that answers philosophical questions around objectivity, human observation, safety in a compelling manner. 

Director: Theo Anthony 

Production Sandbox Films

Distributor: TBD 

Unrated

Air Date: TBD

Behind the Curtain: Baltimore native Theo Anthony makes a cinematic return to his hometown with ‘All Light, Everywhere.’ His 20116 documentary feature ‘Rat Film’ tells the history of Baltimore via a neighborhood rat infestation. 

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