Showtime announced today that it will premiere XY Chelsea, Pulse Films’ documentary about Chelsea Manning, later this year.
Directed by Tim Travers Hawkins, XY Chelsea follows Manning as she leaves the an all-male maximum security prison she was forced to live in before having her 35-year-sentence commuted by President Obama. (Manning is a former member of the United States Army who was convicted of, among other things, violations of the Espionage Act in 2013 after she disclosed classified and sensitive military information to WikiLeaks.)
Hawkins has followed Manning since 2014, where she worked with a legal team to fight for her release, as well as for her to access the necessary medical treatment for her gender dysphoria. She attempted suicide twice in 2016, which prompted her lawyers to reach out to President Obama for his help. In his statement regarding his decision for commute her sentence, he said 35 years was “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received.”
“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,” Hawkins told Variety. “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.”
“I have always held the conviction that we as filmmakers should use all of the tools available to us to tell stories that can too often be buried or misrepresented,” CEO of Pulse Films, Thomas Benski, added. “This film has been so important to us here at Pulse, as it represents a completely unique way to help give a voice to an important figure denied one.”
Cameras were there when Manning walked out of the Fort Leavenworth’s detention center in May of last year, as well as many other pivotal moments (both private and public) that Manning has undergone in the last few years, including her becoming an advocate for transgender rights (and avid tweeter).
In a press release issued today, Showtime says XY Chelsea “is the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman.” While an official premiere date has not been announced, Showtime will air the film concurrently with a U.S. theatrical run and a subsequent premiere across the network’s platforms on-air, on demand and over the internet. Before then, XY Chelsea will open at a yet unnamed film festival.