Festival Review: Zero Days (2016)

Zero Days

Exposing the secrecy around cyber-warfare and the US attack on Iran’s nuclear industry, Alex Gibney’s Zero Days pleads for a break in the silence.

A War To End All Wars

by Mark Wilshin

Zero Days

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

There’s a kind of hush all over the world. And it’s all about cyber warfare, a secret Alex Gibney is determined to lift, thanks to his documentary Zero Days. Named after the section of code in a piece of malware that creates its armageddon scenario without delay, the documentary leads us through the minefield of Stuxnet worms, the cyber-sabotage of nuclear cylinders in Iran and a US policy of silence. Zero Days is centred round an anonymous interview with an NSA officer, who is determined, while the US seeks to keep its collaboration with Israel to cripple Iran’s nuclear enrichment program hidden, to make cyber warfare a talking point, fearing that while there are no protocols or policies, as there are for all other types of warfare, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the world (and particularly the US) remains vulnerable to escalating attacks, able to derail trains carrying nuclear material and close valves in gas plants or turn off the national grid. Conventional in its filmmaking, Zero Days follows Gibney’s unique style in building and juxtaposing testimonies to lay the groundwork and make his argument. But Gibney’s documentary is ambitious in its scope, delving behind international top-secret classifications and through Edward Snowden’s leaked documents to push cyber warfare out into the open. An important rather than skilled documentary, Zero Days is a worrying reminder of how fragile civilisation really is.

Zero Days is now showing at the Berlin Film Festival

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