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Life Arts    H4'ed 7/19/19

Official Secrets Sneak Screening Debuted to Full House of Whistleblowers at the 8th Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival

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IFC Films' OFFICIAL SECRETS advanced screening with National Whistleblowers Summit + Film Festival at the National Press Club. Right to left: Gavin Hood, Katharine Gun, Martin Bright.
IFC Films' OFFICIAL SECRETS advanced screening with National Whistleblowers Summit + Film Festival at the National Press Club. Right to left: Gavin Hood, Katharine Gun, Martin Bright.
(Image by IFC Films / Whistleblower Summit)
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A pre-Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival publicity rollout began last night with an advanced screening of Gavin Hood's (Eye In The Sky) new film "Official Secrets" which opens on September 6th in D.C., at the National Press Club. Special guests included writer and director Gavin Hood and real-life inspirations, whistleblower Katharine Gun (portrayed by Keira Knightley) and journalist Martin Bright (portrayed by Matt Smith). "Official Secrets" screened to a full house with many notable whistleblowers such as Marcel Reid , Sheila White , Robert J. Maclean , Dr. Matthew Fogg and influencers like members of the National Press Club, Government Accountability Project, Project on Government Oversight and staffers from various representatives offices on the hill.

"Please join me in congratulating Marcel and Michael for kicking off the 2019 Whistleblower Summit with a blast! Last night, the screening of Official Secrets at the National Press Club was a huge success. The room was completely packed with people. ACORN 8 organized the event with IFC Films, who came to DC from NYC for the event. Michael and Marcel put a lot of hard work into organizing and marketing the event. The Reception before the event was packed, and many people stayed late after the film screening for a panel discussion with whistleblower Katharine Gun, journalist Martin Bright and Director Gavin Hood. Marcel skillfully used the time to raise broader awareness of whistleblower stories and issues as well as promote the Whistleblower Summit. There were several whistleblowers in attendance (including TSA whistleblower Robert MacLean, D.C. Child and Family Services Agency whistleblower Christian Green, and New York school safety whistleblower Kathy Cole) at the event who got a chance to meet and speak with Katharine.

"Katharine Gun was a translator for the Government Communications Headquarters, a British intelligence agency. She leaked top-secret information to the press concerning the illegal activities of the US in their push to invade Iraq in 2003, particularly concerning the NSA's eavesdropping on countries tasked with passing a second UN resolution on the Iraq invasion. She was charged with violating the Official Secrets Act of 1989, which has no defenses available. The prosecution dropped the case without explanation when she pleaded not-guilty, anticipating to test the "necessity" defense to stop an illegal war. A question was raised during the panel session about the necessity defense in the United States." said Samantha Feinstein, Government Accountability Project.

Over the last twelve years members from the Make It Safe Coalition have arranged an assembly of whistleblowers in Washington, DC each year for an annual conference originally known as Washington Whistleblower's Week. ACORN 8, a Washington, D.C. based organization will host its eighth annual event, the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival on Capitol Hill on July 29 to August 1, 2019. The theme for the Whistleblower Summit this year is True North-Persevering in the Pursuit of Justice. The series of events, which will take place on Capitol Hill and other nearby locations

The Whistleblower Summit recognizes that cinema is a powerful medium for highlighting civil and human rights violations across the globe. It seeks to shine a light on stories of courage and perseverance in the face of injustice, and to encourage individuals to stand together to achieve human rights for all. Marcel Reid, summit co-host and Festival Director explained, "We are looking for films about whistleblowers, the First Amendment or that touch on one or several human rights issues that are connected to our areas of work this includes freedom of expression, women's rights, discrimination, communal violence, human rights defenders, among other issues. As well as films centered on other civil and human rights issues."

She risked everything to stop an unjust war. Her government called her a traitor. Based on world-shaking true events, Official Secrets tells the gripping story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist whose job involves routine handling of classified information. Michael McCray, whistleblower and summit co-host, described Official Secrets as "a modern day All The President's Men only better." Daniel Ellsberg, the famed whistleblower behind the leak in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers (the subject of Steven Spielberg's 2017 drama The Post), remarked that Gun's actions signified "the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else including myself has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it."

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Michael McCray is a public interest advocate who combats racism and corruption in the government and other institutions which deprive individuals of their basic civil rights, human rights and constitutional liberties. McCray is co-chair of the (more...)

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