Exclusive: NDR, DR TV prep “Snowden’s Great Escape”

As Laura Poitras's Citizenfour premieres in New York tonight, realscreen has learned of another major documentary on Edward Snowden (pictured) in the works, set to launch in 2015.
October 10, 2014

As Laura Poitras’s Citizenfour premieres in New York tonight, realscreen has learned of another major documentary on Edward Snowden in the works, set to launch in 2015.

Snowden’s Great Escape (pictured above) is an 80-minute documentary being coproduced by Germany’s NDR and Denmark’s DR, which incorporates two new interviews with the American whistleblower, filmed in Moscow.

The doc is being directed by John Goetz (NDR) and Poul-Erik Heilbuth (DR) and is expected to launch at a major international film festival in either January or February (possibly Sundance or Berlin), before airing on TV in some form in the first quarter of 2015.

In addition to Snowden, other notable figures who have been interviewed for the doc include Bolivian president Evo Morales, former NSA director Michael Hayden, former German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange and his adviser Sarah Harrison, Guardian correspondent Ewen MacAskill, Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip, and journalist Glenn Greenwald and his Hong Kong lawyer Robert Tibbo.

The film is described as being a fast-paced documentary thriller, and focuses on Snowden’s escape from Hong Kong to Moscow after leaking a cache of secret NSA documents to journalist Greenwald and filmmaker Poitras.

The doc promises to expose “how close [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin was to having Snowden deported from Moscow, as he landed at Sheretmetyevo Airport,” according to DR television.

Mette Hoffmann Meyer, head of documentaries for Denmark’s DR, told realscreen: “Snowden’s Great Escape is a breathtaking account of the NSA’s frantic search for Snowden and the brilliant plan that enabled his remarkable disappearing act.

“The film is the story of a young man who has just given journalists an explosive cache of documents exposing the power and reach of the NSA,” she adds. “As they return home to publish his shocking revelations, he is left behind.

“Far from being a whistleblower hero, we now learn that Edward Snowden was in fact broke and very much alone.”

She added that the film is not a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary. “It documents one of the largest manhunts in modern U.S. history,” she said.

The news comes on the eve of the premiere of one of the most anticipated feature docs of the year.

Poitras’s long-in-the-works Snowden doc Citizenfour, which premieres in the Big Apple tonight (October 10), was a late addition to the New York Film Festival’s main slate. It has since been programmed for a host of European festivals, including CPH:DOX, DOK Leipzig and the London Film Festival.

Citizenfour will have an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run this year before having its TV premiere in the U.S. on HBO.

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