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'Reality,' film based on transcript of FBI interview with Reality Winner, premieres at Berlin International Film Festival

Sydney Sweeney portrays Reality Winner, the Kingsville native who was sentenced under the Espionage Act for releasing a classified document to the media.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Reality Winner, a Kingsville native and former NSA contractor, received the longest sentence ever for the unauthorized release of a classified document to the media back in 2018. 

The document, which she released while living and working in Georgia as a military intelligence contractor, contained information related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Winner pleaded guilty to espionage charges and spent four of her five year sentence in prison. She was released in June 2021 and has since been on home-confinement in Kingsville. 

Over the weekend, a film based on the interview she gave the FBI premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. 

"The audience witnesses the protagonist arriving at her home in Georgia, only to be met by two men outside who politely inform her that they have a search warrant. What follows is a chamber piece focusing on the interrogation of whistle-blower Reality Winner and the search of her home.," the film's summary said.  

Winner's mother, Billie Winner-Davis, just returned from seeing the screening.

“People are going to want to see this film, and when they see the film, they're going to want to know more about Reality, and they're going to want to know more about who she is, what she did, what she did for our country, what she did to secure our elections," she said.

Davis said it is a fair portrayal of exactly what happened.

“It’s 100 percent accurate, because they used the transcript and they didn't alter it or change it in any way," she said. "So you get to hear every word, every cough, every sound, every dog bark. They went line by line of the transcript of the interrogation."

Sydney Sweeney, most known for playing Cassie in HBO's 'Euphoria' and Olivia in the first season of 'The White Lotus,' portrays Winner in the film simply titled 'Reality.'

"Reality is such a complex character, so being able to dive into someone who has so many contradicting ideas of who she is and what's going on is really interesting as an actress," Sweeney told the Associated Press. "I zoomed with her, I texted with her throughout the process and it's really cool as an actor being able to have communication with the person you're playing, because you get a different look into what actually happens."

The film is directed by Tina Satter and is based off of her play, “Is This A Room,” which premiered on Broadway in 2021. IndieWire chose the film as one of their "Critic's Picks."

"Inching towards its grand reveal through surreally awkward conversation, 'Reality' is gripping and deceptively layered, delineating both the FBI’s queasily ingenious interrogation tactics and Sweeney’s extraordinary range," their review said.  

Davis told 3NEWS that distributors are currently deciding whether to carry the movie, and that she is hoping to have the filmmakers bring it to South Texas.

She also says that this is not the only movie about her daughter, and that a second film has already been shot and is in post-production, which will include actresses Emilia Jones and Connie Britton.

You can watch the actors and director talk about the movie here. 

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