The movies are about to get Snow-den.
In May, there was the surprising announcement that James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson had bought the rights to Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, And The U.S. Surveillance State for Sony, to make a movie presumably built around Greenwald’s meetings with the NSA whistleblower turned fugitive. (At the time, Greenwald praised the studio for its “successful track record of making thoughtful and nuanced true-life stories that audiences want to see”—a statement that must have surprised the Glenn Greenwald who dubbed Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty “CIA hagiography” and “pernicious propaganda.” But that’s neither here nor there.) Just one month later, Oliver Stone optioned a second book, Time Of The Octopus, written by Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, for his own adaptation. And just last week, Laura Poitras’ firsthand documentary on Snowden’s initial disclosures, the emphatically punctuated CITIZENFOUR, was announced as a surprise addition to the New York Film Festival.
While Poitras’ documentary will make it to theaters first—it’s due to open in New York and L.A. on October 24th—it’s looking like Oliver Stone will win the Edward Snowden feature sweepstakes. Deadline reports that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is “circling” the role of Snowden, though it seems to me that the word “attached” might better describe one’s involvement in a movie with “Octopus” in the title. That Gordon-Levitt is one of the best young actors of his generation bodes well for the project; that Oliver Stone has made only one or two good movies in his entire career bodes less well. Still, it should be a strong flashpoint of discussion, given the polarizing response to Snowden’s actions and the fact that his legal fate remains up in the air.