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Double Exposure Film Festival: United States vs. Reality Winner

An eye-opening documentary reveals just what went down with the FBI’s treatment and the eventual incarceration of whistleblower Reality Winner.

In 2016, upon discovering crucial information regarding Russian interference with the United States presidential election, Reality Winner leaked confidential documents from her work at the NSA to journalists at The Intercept. What followed was a media showdown, an FBI investigation and a complicated trial. Reality Winner became the eighth whistleblower to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 and was soon sentenced to 5+ years in Federal prison. The document she leaked is now public information but at the time of her trial the classified documents couldn’t even be discussed.

Directed by Sonia Kennebeck, United States vs. Reality Winner illuminates the real tension between the public’s right to know crucial information that affects them and the government’s stronghold on that information. It paints a portrait of Reality Winner, someone who believed in exposing the truth but became the pawn in a very dangerous game and paid the price. Throughout the film there are interviews with other whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden, journalists, friends and family, including her mother and sister. It also includes declassified audio of the FBI’s interrogation of Reality Winner, which was released in February 2021  under the Freedom for Information Act.

United States vs. Reality Winner was the opening night film at the 2021 Double Exposure Film Festival.