It is 2020, and the first viable quantum computers have blown online security wide open. Emails, credit card details, private file transfers - all previously encrypted, but now accessible to all. Tech entrepreneur, Neville Kanessar, rises to power and fortune with his widely-adopted Cypress privacy software, but soon discovers that trust is more precious than wealth. He confesses his vulnerabilities to an empathetic journalist, Danielle. However, his dark secret undergirding Cypress remains hidden. As the stranglehold of fear closes in, he finally confesses: Cypress was programmed to record everything its users intended to remain secret. Through scandal or blackmail, Neville holds the city in his grip. This revelation is too much for Danielle. Her sleep becomes punctuated by nightmares of Neville's downfall. And his waking reality becomes one of delusion, paranoia and insanity - a victim of his own proud secrecy.
Daniel chapter 4 is the remarkable account of Nebuchadnezzar's transformation from ruler of an empire, to a barely-human lunatic, cast out from his kingdom. He is given a dream of a tree, cut down to size, as a warning from God, which his advisor Daniel interprets for him, pleading with him to humble himself before God. But as he stands on the rooftop of his palace congratulating himself on his own majesty, it is clear that the warning has gone unheeded. It is ultimately a story about the deceit of power, and the delusion of human pride. I didn't want Roots simply to be a criticism of the powerful elite - that would be too easy. I wanted a film that would cross-examine the Nebuchadnezzar in all of us - given any kind of power and responsibility, what do we do with it? Online privacy is the arena in which the question is posed, and as we experience both the raising up of Neville, and his crippling humiliation by his own hand, there is every chance we will see something of him in ourselves.