The Feeling of Being Watched

Film phase:Completed


In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers hundreds of pages of declassified FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11—code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened to her neighborhood in the 90’s and probes why her community feels like they’re still being watched today. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.

Supporters of The Feeling of Being Watched include Gucci Tribeca, the San Francisco Film Society, the Ford Foundation, and the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund.

The Feeling of Being Watched participated in the 2016 (Egg)celerator Lab and was provided with an additional grant from The Whickers, made possible by Chicken & Egg Pictures’ partnership with the organization.


Assia Boundaoui looks directly at the camera. Headshot in black and white.Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago. She has reported for the BBC, NPR, AlJazeera, VICE, CNN and was the recipient of a first place Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Assia has worked in an editorial capacity on the production of a number of documentary films, including HBO Documentary Films’ Manhunt (2013), which was awarded an Emmy. Assia has a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic. The Feeling of Being Watched is her directorial debut.


The Feeling of Being Watched premiered in competition at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is available to stream on Amazon Prime.