On the day of Chelsea Manning’s release from prison, Pulse Films announced at the Cannes Film Festival that a documentary about the whistleblower and her adjustment into post-incarceration life is in the works.
XY Chelsea, directed by Tim Travers Hawkins, acquired the exclusive rights to Manning’s story, with filmmakers on site at Kansas’ Leavenworth Prison Wednesday as Manning was released after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, the most ever levied on a whistleblower.
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
Hawkins has been following Manning’s legal team since 2014 as they fought to get her proper treatment for gender dysphoria and, after a pair of suicide attempts in 2016, her release from prison. In January, one of Barack Obama’s final acts as president was to commute Manning’s sentence, which allowed the whistleblower to go free on May 17th.
Citizenfour director Laura Poitras will serve as executive producer on XY Chelsea, which will unveil footage to perspective buyers at Cannes.
On Tuesday, artists like Tom Morello, Thurston Moore, Graham Nash and Against Me! contributed music to Hugs for Chelsea, which aims to raise money for Manning’s living expenses as she adapts to life after prison.