The Bit Player: Claude Shannon

“The film tells the story of an overlooked genius: Claude Shannon. In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a ‘bit’ and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past.

Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, The Bit Player tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.

The Bit Player on Documentary Mania

Salafistes

Salafistes is, from start to finish, a gruesome film. Originally shot in Timbuktu after the town fell under jihadist control in 2012, the documentary takes place over the course of four years—first, with live footage of life under Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali; later, using propaganda videos from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Interspersed with the scenes of violence are rare interviews with some of salafism’s most prominent, and radical, theologians, including political leaders of Al-Qaeda in Mauritania and Mali, as they are asked a series of political and philosophical questions: How do you regard democracy? (“Against Islam.”) Women? (“Irrational, and half the worth of a man.”) Homosexuality? (“Against human nature.”) America? (“9/11 was deserved.”)

—Maddy Crowell, “Salafistes.” The Point. April 9, 2019.