The FBI was unaccountable and untouchable until 1971, when a group of ordinary citizens uncovered its illegal domestic spying programs. On March 8, 1971, The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as they called themselves, broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took every file, and shared them with the American public. These actions exposed COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal surveillance program that involved the intimidation of law-abiding Americans and helped lead to the country’s first Congressional investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies. Never caught, forty–three years later, these everyday Americans—parents, teachers and citizens—publicly reveal themselves for the first time and share their story in the documentary 1971.
Johanna Hamilton co-produced Pray the Devil Back to Hell. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary. It was short-listed for an Academy Award and spearheaded the PBS mini-series Women, War & Peace. Hamilton has produced non-fiction programs for PBS, The History Channel, A&E, Discovery Channel, The Washington Post/Newsweek Productions and New York Times Television. 1971 is her feature directorial debut.