Some Canadians are making a full-length Edward Snowden biopic

Starring that guy from The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes as the titular NSA leaker. Not that guy. The other guy.


Kevin Collier


Published Sep 9, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 6:59 am CDT

Edward Snowden is about to get truly famous—the kind of famous you only get as the subject of a Canadian independent film.

Vancouver filmmakers Jason Bourque and Travis Doering are asking the Internet to help them fund a movie about the former National Security Agency contractor’s life. Called Classified: The Edward Snowden Story, it begins with Snowden’s time in the U.S. Army reserve, and will continue with his time working for the CIA and NSA through independent contractors.

The filmmakers sent us the opening:

We open with a young man in his early 20s, he is being interviewed by a military officer. The series of rapid fire questions are very personal and at times uncomfortable. As the interview progresses we cut between the interviewee and an anonymous man working on his laptop. The questions begin to subside as the interviewers asks one final question, “Can you please state your full name for the record?” There is a pause as the man steadies himself and replies, “My name is Edward Joseph Snowden.”

“Even with a subject as interesting mass surveillance, without having a practical character for the audience to relate to, it’s very hard to build an emotional connection,” Borque says in a YouTube clip pitching the concept to potential backers.

The main roles have already been tentatively cast with Canadian actors. The upcoming The Mortal Instruments’ Kevin Zegers of the will play Snowden, Stargate SG-1‘s Michael Shanks is journalist Glenn Greenwald, and journeyman actress Carmen Aguirre plays documentarian Laura Poitras. The script is being reviewed by intelligence officials and people who know Snowden personally, Bourque says, and filming should begin in Vancouver at the start of 2014.

The filmmakers plan to release the movie under a creative commons license, meaning it’ll be impossible to sell to a distributor. So they’re asking anyone who can to pitch in over the next three weeks, though only one person has donated so far. And yes, they take bitcoin.

h/t Adrian Chen. Illustration by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Sep 9, 2013, 5:15 pm CDT