As Chelsea Manning walks out of military prison today after seven years of incarceration at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, she will be filmed by director Tim Travers Hawkins. His documentary, "XY Chelsea," announced today at the Cannes Film Festival, has been a two-year journey following Manning's story.
"I knew when I began making this film it was likely that I would never be able to film Chelsea directly," Hawkins told ABC News. "Chelsea herself said to me that she was 'a documentary-makers worst nightmare'. But I felt the fact that Chelsea was invisible to us made it even more important to get her voice and her story out into the world."
According to their press release about the film, Hawkins will be "filming with Chelsea later today as she walks free and begins to tell her story and reveal herself to the world in her journey through life beyond incarceration."
In the summer of 2013, Manning was convicted by a military tribunal under the Espionage and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts and sentenced to 35 years in prison. On Jan. 17, 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence to time served plus 120 days.
From her arrest and throughout her incarceration, the Army prohibited visitors –- with the exception of her lawyers -- unless they knew Manning prior to her arrest. As a result, Hawkins had to correspond in writing with Manning.
"Chelsea was sending me extracts of her intimate diary from prison, through which she offered me a fascinating sense of her life inside Fort Leavenworth military prison," Hawkins explained. "Through the diaries we developed a range of compelling visuals to bring her words to life."
"I also filmed a small group of individuals who were part of Chelsea's legal and support team. Their struggle to get her out of prison, against all the odds, is a huge part of the story of the documentary," he added.
According to their press release, the documentary, produced by Pulse Films, was co-financed by the British Film Institute (BFI) and First Look Media’s Topic & Field of Vision. Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras ("Risk," "Citizenfour") is one of the executive producers.