Official Secrets

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USA | 2019 | 112 minutes | Gavin Hood

September 15, 2019

Issaquah International Film Festival

Keira Knightley plays Katharine Gun, who in 2004 went on trial in the UK for leaking a memo that revealed a U.S. espionage plan to gain support for the Iraq War.

September 15 | 6:00 PM

In the UK, the Official Secrets Act is the one that governs the protection of, and thus criminalizes the leakage of, national security information, and this film recounts the real-life story of one whistleblower who ran afoul of it. In 2003, as the U.S. is trying to drum up support for the Iraq War and getting Tony Blair's Britain involved, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), an intelligence-agency translator, comes across a memo from America's National Security Agency requesting British help bugging the offices of five nations on the U.N.'s Security Council in the hope of digging up dirt to coerce these five vital swing votes to vote yes on the U.N.'s resolution of support. The email's leaked to a London paper, The Observer, where staff reporters debate whether to publish it; Gun is arrested; and, making matters personal, Gun's Kurdish-refugee husband is now at greater risk of deportation. As you may recall, the war went on anyway as scheduled. Director Gavin Hood stirs in actual period news footage of Blair and GWB cheerleading for the invasion, plus plenty of familiar faces-Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Northam, "The Crown"'s Matthew Goode and Matt Smith-to support Knightley's star turn and enrich his drama of bravery, conscience, and the conflict of loyalty to country vs. loyalty to humanity in a larger sense.

  • Director: Gavin Hood
  • Principal Cast: Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans
  • Country: USA, United Kingdom
  • Year: 2019
  • Running Time: 112 minutes
  • Producer: Ged Doherty, Elizabeth Fowler, Melissa Shiyu Zuo
  • Screenplay: Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein, Gavin Hood
  • Cinematographers: Florian Hoffmeister
  • Language: English