A Sneak Peek at Clandestine

Clandestine, a documentary about numbers stations completed last year, is screening at various festivals but has not yet been publicly released. The producers say they’re holding it close in order to cross-promote it with another project still in the works, but they were nice enough to send me a digital copy to peruse.
The short film has two interweaving threads: a relatively straightforward plot about numbers stations’ ties to the practice of espionage, and a biopic narrative about a man’s father and his unhealthy obsession with listening to these broadcasts.
The latter provides the producers with a unique perspective from which to explore the world of numbers station activity, and also demonstrates a sincere curiosity about clandestine radio that is well-reflected in its contemporary espionage-vignettes.
These firmly demonstrate that radio is still an active and useful tool in the practice of international spycraft. Government excuses for the mercurial nature of the broadcasts are downright humorous: numbers stations broadcast lottery results? Though the transmissions may be directed toward a single individual, the fact that anyone with a shortwave receiver can hear them kind of defeats the purpose of such silly secrecy.
In the main, Clandestine is both both a short history of numbers stations’ activity over the last 30-odd years, and a personal homage to those who are drawn to listen to them. It’s a good vehicle by which to introduce the scene to the world at large and will leave the hardcore wishing for more. Hopefully a general release is forthcoming soon.