Phantom Parrot

The revelation of a top-secret British surveillance programme brings down the dominoes in a dark and analytical film about technology, rights and structural racism – and about a man with the courage to speak out.

If British police ask for the password to your phone or computer, you must hand it over to them in accordance with an anti-terror law that came into force before 9/11. When human rights activist Muhammad Rabbani refuses and is prosecuted, a journalist is able to uncover documents proving the existence of a top-secret surveillance programme, code-named Phantom Parrot, designed to copy the personal data of individuals at airports and border crossings – and people from minority backgrounds are often the first to be pulled aside.

And from there, the dominoes start falling in all directions in a dark detective film about technology, surveillance and structural racism in a time where knowledge might still equal power but where data is even better.

A razor-sharp analysis that unravels the threads and allows us to understand both the scale and gravity of the Phantom Parrot programme.


“★ ★ ★ ★”
– The Guardian

“Sheds light on the Orwellian technologies being used across borders to
repress activists, journalists, and others”

– The Nation 

Variety – Phantom Parrot Examines U.K.’s Intrusive Data-Collecting Policy Targeting Activists, Journalists 

Deadline – Phantom Parrot’ Premiering At CPH:DOX Exposes U.K. Surveillance Program In Dark Detective Film

Declassified UK – Phantom Parrot: The Secret State’s Tool for Mass Intelligence Gathering

The Lancet – Storytelling and Debate at the 2023 Global Health Film Festival

Business Doc Europe – CPH DOX F:ACT Award: Phantom Parrot by Kate Stonehill

Cinemafemme – Kate Stonehill Talks Citizens’ Surveillance, Violations of Human Rights in Her Unsettling Debut Doc “Phantom Parrot”

Modern Times – Review: Phantom Parrot

Cineuropa – Review: Phantom Parrot


  • Year: 2023
  • Duration: 52 & 88 mins
  • Production: Steven Lake (Brass Mill Media)
  • Director: Kate Stonehill
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: England


  • CPH:Dox 2023 (Denmark), Sheffield Doc Fest 2023 (UK) , Galway Film Fleadh 2023 (Ireland), DokuFest 2023 (Kosovo), Zurich Film Festival 2023 (Switzerland), Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2023 (Germany), Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival 2023 (Washington DC, USA), Media Festival Skopje 2023 (North Macedonia), Karama Human Rights Film Festival 2023 (Jordan), Global Health Film Festival 2023 (UK), SR Socially Relevant Film Festival 2024 (USA).