When a filmmaker investigates rumors of surveillance in her Arab-American neighborhood in Chicago, she uncovers one of the largest FBI terrorism probes conducted before 9/11 and reveals its enduring impact on the community.
In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers hundreds of pages of declassified FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9-11 – code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened to her neighborhood in the 90’s and probes why her community feels like they’re still being watched today. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.
About the Filmmakers
Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago. She has reported for the BBC, NPR, AlJazeera, VICE, CNN and was the recipient of a first place Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Assia has worked in an editorial capacity on the production of a number of documentary films, including HBO Documentary Films’ MANHUNT (2013) which was awarded an Emmy. Assia has a Masters degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic. THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED is her directorial debut.
Jessica Devaney is a Brooklyn-based creative producer and communications strategist. Her past films include SPEED SISTERS (Hot Docs, 2015) following a team of Palestinian women race car drivers; the Peabody Award winning short MY NEIGHBOURHOOD (Tribeca, 2012) on Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, its companion web series HOME FRONT (2011), and Ridenhour Documentary Prize and PUMA Impact Award winning BUDRUS (Berlin, Tribeca, 2010). Jessica’s directorial debut short, LOVE THE SINNER (Tribeca, 2017) explores the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Her forthcoming films include ROLL RED ROLL, THE RASHOMON EFFECT, and THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED. Jessica is a founder of the Queer Producers Collective and was a 2016 Women at Sundance Fellow.