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Director Bou Melhem, Artist Trevor Paglen team up for documentary 'UNSEEN SKIES'



Utopia is releasing Participant's UNSEEN SKIES on September 13th, a feature documentary that follows an American artist launch an artwork into space.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Yaara Bou Melhem, UNSEEN SKIES explores the evolution of state and corporate surveillance. The docu-journey follows Trevor Paglen, one of the 21st century’s most visionary artists, on one of his most audacious projects to date - the launching of an artwork into space, visible with the naked eye from earth, to show that our skies are more than the exclusive playground of the military-industrial complex. Or are they?

Having achieved international notoriety for his conceptual art, which fuses photography and large-scale multidisciplinary events, Paglen’s work reveals the largely unseen monolithic 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 Kronos Quartet–while performing–are analyzed by facial recognition algorithms. He also contributed cinematography to Participant’s Academy Award®-winning film, CITIZENFOUR.


Bou Melhem deftly brings to light the global impact of technology in the 21st century and its adverse impact on our anonymity and privacy through Paglen’s story as a geographer and punk rock musician turned artist, working on an unprecedented creative undertaking to deploy “Orbital Reflector” into space. Unseen Skies is a glimpse into a reality that exists in plain sight but goes largely unnoticed. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann executive produced the film along with Ivan O’Mahoney and Nial Fulton of In Films.

UNSEEN SKIES will be available on VOD platforms from September 13th.

About Utopia Utopia is a film distribution and sales company that specializes in independent and documentary cinema. Recent Utopia titles include Gaspar Noe's Vortex starring Dario Argento, Lena Dunham's Sundance-lauded Sharp Stick and Jane Schoenbrun's acclaimed debut feature We're All Going to the World's Fair. Upcoming releases this year include a restoration of the Indie Spirit award-winning Anvil! The Story of Anvil! by Sacha Gervasi, the Cannes award-winning Holy Spider by Ali Abbasi and Dylan Lovelace and Will Southern's Meet Me in the Bathroom documenting the early years of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, LCD Soundsystem and more. Utopia has since launched Utopia Originals, a division dedicated to the development, packaging, and sales of original film and television content. Its most recently announced project is a Blues Brothers docu-series with Dan Aykroyd and the John Belushi Estate. About Participant Founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant (www.participant.com) combines the power of a good story well told with real-world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing the well over 2 billion consumers compelled to make meaningful content a priority focus. As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, six documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 20 hours of digital short form programming. Participant’s more than 100 films have collectively earned 82 Academy Award® nominations and 21 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book; Best Documentary Feature for An Inconvenient Truth, CITIZENFOUR, The Cove and American Factory; and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant also has earned 44 Emmy® Award nominations and 11 wins, including two wins for the groundbreaking When They See Us. Follow Participant on Twitter (@Participant) and on Facebook and Instagram. About Screen Australia Screen Australia is the Australian Federal Government agency charged with supporting the development, production and promotion of Australian scripted and documentary content. The agency funds productions for television, film and online. Screen Australia also administers Australia’s Official Co-production program, in addition to the Producer Offset tax rebate which assists eligible Australian and Official Co-productions to be made. The agency provides a range of resources and opportunities to the industry including access to research, market intelligence and special initiatives. About In Films In Films is an Australian independent production company founded in 2013 by Ivan O'Mahoney and Nial Fulton. The company specializes in investigative factual television and feature documentaries. In Films’ projects include the Walkley Award winning ABC series Hitting Home and Revelation, the critically acclaimed US series Borderland, and Firestarter - The Story of Bangarra, winner of the 2020 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award. Other gongs include the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Prix Europa, the Rose D’Or, the Japan Prize and the Amnesty International Media Award.

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