Entertainment & Arts

Oliver Stone's Snowden film will open at Christmas

Oliver Stone
Image caption Oliver Stone has built a reputation on controversial film-making

Oliver Stone's dramatisation of the story of Edward Snowden will be released on Christmas Day, its distributor has said.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, star of 500 Days of Summer, will play the fugitive US intelligence leaker.

Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto and Tom Wilkinson also have roles.

The film is based on Guardian journalist Luke Harding's book, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man.

Harding's book is an account of events surrounding the Guardian's reporting of Snowden's disclosures in 2013.

When he first announced the film in June last year, Stone said: "This is one of the greatest stories of our time."

The Oscar-winning director added that making the film would be "a real challenge".

Stone is one of Hollywood's most controversial and provocative film-makers, renowned for political dramas such as JFK, Platoon and W - a biographical drama based on the life of former US President George W Bush.

He came to prominence as a film-maker in the 1980s with films like Salvador, Platoon and Wall Street. His Oscars were awarded for directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, and for writing 1978's Midnight Express.

Among his other films are Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, World Trade Center, Nixon, Natural Born Killers and The Doors.

Filming on his Snowden story, to be distributed by Open Road Films, has begun in Munich and will move to other locations before its expected completion in May.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Snowden says he wanted to help his country but some have accused him of being a traitor

The Snowden scandal broke in early June 2013 when the Guardian newspaper reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans.

Shortly afterwards, the Guardian revealed that ex-CIA systems analyst Edward Snowden was behind the leaks about the US and UK surveillance programmes.

He has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.

Snowden fled to Russia via Hong Kong following the revelations, and Stone described him as a "hero" shortly afterwards.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo in August 2013, the film-maker said: "Edward Snowden is a hero. Because he did this not for profit, not to give, exchange, give secrets away that could hurt our country supposedly... He is doing it out of conscience."

The Snowden film comes shortly after Benedict Cumberbatch starred as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the drama The Fifth Estate.

The movie suffered one of the worst box office openings of 2013, taking just $1.7 million (£1 million) in its first weekend of release in the US.

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