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Exclusive clip: “The Cleaners” makes TV debut on PBS’s ‘Independent Lens’

American public broadcaster PBS will present the television broadcast premiere of Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s feature-length documentary The Cleaners (pictured) on Monday (Nov. 12) when it broadcasts across its ...
November 9, 2018

American public broadcaster PBS will present the television broadcast premiere of Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s feature-length documentary The Cleaners (pictured) on Monday (Nov. 12) when it broadcasts across its long-standing documentary strand ‘Independent Lens’.

The 88-minute film, which held its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, provides audiences with a look into the process undertaken and the people employed by such tech platforms as Facebook and Google for “digital cleaning,” or content moderation.

Through interviews with Silicon Valley leaders, The Cleaners reveals the tech industry’s set of rules, criteria and processes by which these companies monitor troubling images and sensitive materials posted to their sites.

Headquartered in Manila, Philippines, the “digital scavengers” are tasked with distinguishing, within seconds, the line between art and pornography, journalism and propaganda, censorship and free speech.

The Cleaners delves into the lives of five of these content moderators and reveals the reality of their often traumatic work, while also featuring commentary from activists whose images have been removed and organizations fighting to bring to light tragic war crimes in Myanmar and Syria.

The film, which is among the 166 films submitted for Academy Awards consideration, is executive produced by Christopher ClementsJulie Goldman and Philippa Kowarsky. Georg Tschurtschenthaler and Christian Beetz serve as producers. The film was developed and financed by Beetz Brothers Film Production.

The Cleaners premieres on ‘Independent Lens’ this Monday (Nov. 12) at 10 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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