Later today, Chelsea Manning will celebrate her release from maximum-security U.S. military prison. In doing so, the embattled former U.S. Army intelligence analyst will enter a very different world than the one she left when she was sentenced to 35 years in an all-men’s, maximum-security, military prison for convictions related to leaking documents back in 2010.
She will also enter a world as the subject of a brand new documentary. Billed as “the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman,” Manning and her life will be the focus of a new feature from Pulse Films.
Pulse Films CEO Thomas Benski today announced the production of the documentary “XY Chelsea,” complete with exclusive rights to Chelsea Manning’s story, Pulse has reportedly enjoyed “unique access to her team for two years to make the film.”
Directed by Tim Travers Hawkins (“1000 Voices”), who will be hand to film Manning’s release later today “as she walks free and begins to tell her story and reveal herself to the world in her journey through life beyond incarceration,” the new film was co-financed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and First Look Media’s Topic & Field of Vision.
When Manning was sentenced in 2010 for convictions related to leaking documents (including documents that disclosed information about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), her 35-year sentence was the longest sentence given to any whistleblower in U.S. history.
Since 2014, filmmaker Hawkins has followed Manning’s legal team as they pushed for a multitude of things, including Manning’s release from prison, medical treatment for gender dysphoria, and for the military to recognize her status as a woman. Manning attempted suicide twice in 2016, a dire enough situation that they reached out to President Obama for a commutation of her sentence before he left office. On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea’s sentence to time served plus 120 days.
Said director Hawkins in an official statement, “When I first wrote to Chelsea at the military prison in Kansas, she could not be filmed, nor could I communicate with her in any way other than through letters. Regardless, I believed it was imperative to find a creative way to engage with her life and story. Now, with Chelsea emerging from confinement, the journey of this film has reached its most historic and exciting moment.”
Thomas Benski, Julia Nottingham and Lucas Ochoa developed and are producing “XY Chelsea” for Pulse Films, with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras (“Risk,” “Citizenfour”) and Field of Vision’s Charlotte Cook serving as executive producers, along with the BFI’s Mary Burke and First Look Media’s Michael Bloom and Adam Pincus.
Per an official release, the film is also receiving additional support from Faliro House, Sharon Chang and Blaine Vess and was developed by the BFI, with additional finance from the Sundance Documentary Fund and Catapult Film Fund.
Josh Braun from Submarine will launch worldwide sales at Cannes. Previously, Submarine handled the sales of Poitras’ “Citizenfour” and “Risk.”