The Unknown Known: Film Screening and Discussion Featuring Director Errol Morris


Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 6:00pm


Wiener Auditorium, Ground Floor, Taubman Building, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA

EUnknown Known posterrrol Morris, Filmmaker and AuthorArchon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship (Moderator)

Seats are limited and will be first come first serve.

About the Event
Join us for a screening of The Unknown Known, Errol Morris’ latest documentary film profiling former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Following the screening, Morris will participate in a discussion, moderated by Archon Fung, on the expansion of presidential power and the potential threats it poses to our democracy’s compact between the chief executive, Congress, the courts, and the people. In The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld gives unprecedented access to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris. Whether you think Rumsfeld is a patriot or a liar, he is always fascinating.

In addition to further exploring the film itself, the discussion will examine expansion of presidential power and the potential threats it poses to our democracy’s compact between the chief executive, Congress, the courts, and the people. In navigating between civil liberties and security, or between secrecy and transparency, how far away are we today from the right balance? What is the cost of NSA surveillance in terms of citizens’ willingness to participate in public discourse or to advocate on behalf of their values and liberties?

Read the Challenges to Democracy blog post about this event

Watch the Film Trailer

View Photos from the Event

Listen to an Audio Recording of the Event


About the Speaker
Errol Morris is a film director and author. Morris’ films have won many awards including the Oscar for The Fog of War, the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for A Brief History of Time, the Grand Jury Prize, Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Standard Operating Procedure, and the Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for The Thin Blue Line. His documentaries have repeatedly appeared on many “ten best” lists and have been honored by the National Society of Film Critics as well as the National Board of Review. Morris’ work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Roger Ebert, a champion of Morris’ work, called his first film, Gates of Heaven (1978), one of the ten best films of all time. Morris has directed over 1000 television commercials including campaigns for Apple, Levi’s, ESPN, Nike, Target, Citibank, and Miller High Life. Morris has also directed short films for the 2002 and 2007 Academy Awards, the IBM Centennial and many charitable and political organizations including Stand Up to Cancer and In 2001, Morris won an Emmy for “Photobooth”, a spot directed for PBS.

Morris is the author of two New York Times best sellers, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times opinion pages.

Morris has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2007, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a graduate student at Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley. He has received honorary degrees from the Columbia School of Journalism, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brandeis University, and Middlebury College.

Morris lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, Julia Sheehan, an art historian, and their French Bulldog, Ivan.

Suggested Reading
The New York Review of Books, Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now (Mark Danner)

The Washington Post, Decline and Fall: Donald Rumsfeld’s Dramatic End (Bradley Graham)

Huffington Post, Presidential Power Grabs: Their Causes and Cure (Bruce Ackerman)

IndieWire, Errol Morris Stands Up for Unapologetic Donald Rumsfeld Doc ’The Unknown Known’ (John Anderson)

Democracy, Battlefield Earth (Heather Hurlburt)