Kate Stonehill

Documentary Filmmaker

Kate is an award-winning director and cinematographer whose work explores power, identity and citizenship in the digital age. She experiments with form in her films, playing with genre conventions to uncover truth. Her debut feature documentary, Phantom Parrot unravels a secret U.K. government surveillance program and follows a human rights activist, as he is prosecuted under terror laws for refusing to hand over the passwords to his electronic devices. Supported by BFI Doc/Society, Tribeca Film Institute and Catapult Film Fund, Phantom Parrot world premiered in competition at CPH:DOX, and had its U.K. premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest, where it was labelled by programmers as “a must-see for anyone who cares about civil liberties in the digital age.”

Kate’s short films have screened at leading international film festivals, including the BFI London Film Festival, DOC NYC, Camden International Film Festival, and Hamptons International Film Festival, and been featured online on outlets such as The Atlantic Selects and Short of the Week. In 2022, she was selected as one of three ‘exceptional British short filmmakers’ to spotlight her career in the Bertha DocHouse summer series.

Her short films include The Family Statement (co-directed with Grace Harper) for Field of Vision; the Grierson award nominated Mother (2020, co-directed with Jas Pitt), and the Grierson and RTS award-winning Fake News Fairytale (2018), which was included in the BFI season Born Digital: Raised by the Internet, and exhibited in a group show Digital Citizenship: The Precarious Subject at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Alongside directing documentaries, Kate teaches filmmaking and works as a cinematographer. She has worked on films for Channel 4, Amazon Studios and VICE, and led workshops and courses at the National Film & Television School and UCL, where she helped design the B.A. in Media. She is a mentor with Arts Emergency.

Kate is based in London and is a dual U.K.-U.S. citizen.

Participating Sessions

Eyes Everywhere: The Widening Net of Government Surveillance

In this panel, we explore the expanding threats to the privacy of our devices and hard drives through mass extraction techniques, especially by law enforcement and border authorities. The practice has far-reaching implications for fundamental rights, including privacy and the presumption of innocence, but it also poses a particular peril for journalists and filmmakers seeking to protect their sources and material, along with ethical questions about the use of information...

Film Screening: Phantom Parrot

The revelation of a top-secret British surveillance program 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.