Footage from a new Chelsea Manning documentary to be shown to buyers at Cannes

The first footage from a new documentary that will follow Chelsea Manning as she walks free from a maximum security military prison will be unveiled to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.

XY Chelsea will follow the former US army intelligence analyst, previously known as Private Bradley Manning, as she begins her life in the outside world as a trans woman.

Pulse Films has acquired the exclusive rights to her story and had access to her legal team for two years to make the movie, which has been co-financed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and executive produced by Oscar winner Laura Poitras.

Laura Poitras with her Oscar for Citizenfour
Laura Poitras, left, with her Oscar for Citizenfour (Ian West/PA)

The first footage will be shown to prospective distributors at an invitation-only event at the film festival.

Chelsea is due to leave a military jail today after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents.

Former president Barack Obama commuted the transgender soldier’s sentence in his final days in the White House, outraging Republicans including Donald Trump, who has described her as an “ungrateful traitor”.

Lorna Bouge from Limerick joins anti-war protesters as they mount a Free Bradley Manning demonstration at the US Embassy
Protesters gather outside the US embassy in 2013 (Niall Carson/PA)

Chelsea was arrested in 2010 and convicted in 2013 of six violations of the US espionage act for leaking 700,000 secret military and state department documents.

The trove, which included classified battlefield videos, was one of the biggest breaches of intelligence in US history.

She acknowledged leaking the files while working in Iraq, but protested that she had acted to raise awareness of the impact of US military action on innocent civilians.

She underwent gender transition in jail and will be released from a correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, a US army disciplinary barracks in Kansas.

A protester in Dublin
A protester in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

British director Tim Travers Hawkins has followed Chelsea and her legal team for two years as they fought to get her out of prison.

He said: “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.

Demonstrators at the US embassy in London
Demonstrators at the US embassy in London in 2012 (Max Nash/PA)

“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.”

Mary Burke, senior production and development executive at the BFI, added: “Tim Travers Hawkins is a visionary British artist and film-maker whose power to find the very heart of a human story amidst faceless towers of control makes us very proud to back his debut feature documentary to ensure Chelsea’s story rings out loudly across the world.”

The documentary is one of a raft of films that will be jostling for attention as the 70th Cannes Film Festival gets under way.

Cannes Film Festival 2017.
Cannes Film Festival 2017 (Francois Mori/AP)

The star-studded event will see Hollywood heavyweights flock to the French Riviera for a series of red carpet premieres.

Nicole Kidman has four projects on the bill, including the latest film by Lost In Translation director Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled, which also stars Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell.

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman (Ian West/PA)

She also stars in the second series of Top Of The Lake, which will be screened in full at the festival.

The festival runs from May 17 to 28 and will open with Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts.

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Good days and bad days says Naomi Watts after Liev Schreiber split

Sir Elton John's music video contest winners unveiled at Cannes

Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd dance on Hollywood sign in new video

Sarah Jessica Parker admits Sex and the City 2 was a flop


Lifestyle

Behind the scenes of short film Forgive Us Our Sins

Making Cents: Why we need to eliminate waste from food budgets

Exploring synaesthesia - see sounds, taste colours, smell words

Hugh Cornwell says music needs something to lash out against

More From The Irish Examiner