Part of 2019 Film Festival
Closing Night Film: “Official Secrets”
Director Gavin Hood, subject Katharine Gun, and journalist Martin Bright are expected to attend the event and participate in a post-screening Q&A.
Gavin Hood’s rousing and riveting new film tells the true story of whistleblower Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley at her most impassioned), a British woman working for UK’s intelligence service, monitoring foreign correspondence. Morally distressed by a confidential staff email about coercing small countries to vote for a UN Iraq War resolution, she leaks the email to the British press and, after her identity is revealed, she is charged with treason. With a powerhouse supporting cast, including Matt Smith (The Crown), Matthew Goode, and Ralph Fiennes, Official Secrets joins films like Vice (2018) and The Looming Tower (2018) to present the now undeniable case that the run-up to the Iraq War involved a disgraceful network of deception, coercion, and lies.
“The story of Katharine Gun is one that’s often been overlooked and undervalued since the Iraq war and there’s immense satisfaction in seeing her bravery and selflessness heralded on the big screen … [Knightley is] fantastic here, vulnerable and strong-willed, her face conveying the inner anguish of someone losing faith in her government while fearful for what might come next.” – Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
“Knightley shows real steel as Gun, giving the character a righteous fury as she refuses to sit by while her government conspires to blackmail other countries in order to justify this encroaching war. The Oscar-nominated actress lets us observe Gun’s torn loyalties: On the one hand, she wants to protect her vulnerable husband, but she also must listen to her conscience, which tells her that this invasion is morally wrong. Knightley has a few high-emotion moments, but for the most part her rage is pitched at a slow burn, which makes it more resonant.” – Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
After studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand in his native Johannesburg, South Africa, Gavin Hood switched gears and enrolled in a UCLA extension film studies program. His first job as a filmmaker was making educational films about HIV and AIDS for South Africa’s Department of Health. He made his feature debut with A Reasonable Man (1999), in which he also starred, winning the Award of the Ecumenical Jury at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and Best Film, Best Anglophone Film, Best Director, and Best Actor prizes at the All African Film Awards. His third feature, Tsotsi (2005), garnered an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature. Among his other films are Rendition (2007), winner of the Best Narrative Feature prize at the Mill Valley Film Festival; X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009); and Eye in the Sky (2015).
Director Gavin Hood
Producer Ged Doherty, Elizabeth Fowler, Melissa Shiyu Zuo
Writer Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein, Gavin Hood
Editor Megan Gill
Cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister
Music Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian
Cast Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes