Telling the truth becomes a dangerous act when four federal whistleblowers reveal the darkest corners of America’s war on terror.
A short time ago, I was lucky enough make a documentary that struck a nerve with audiences worldwide. That film, Incident in New Baghdad, explored U.S. soldier Ethan McCord’s transforming experience on the scene of one of the most infamous events of the Iraq War, and its Academy Award qualifying run in a Los Angeles theater was made possible by a successful fundraising effort right here on Kickstarter. I will forever be grateful to the generosity of the backers who made my trip to the Oscars happen!
Now I’ve teamed up with producer Daniel Chalfen and executive producer Jim Butterworth of Naked Edge Films to make an ambitious new documentary called SILENCED, and I need your help to raise $35,000 by March 14th so we can begin post-production and finish the film by the end of this year.
The War on Whistleblowers
SILENCED follows a group of high-profile truthtellers who dared to question official national security policy in post 9-11 America, and have endured harsh consequences. I became increasingly interested in the issue of government transparency and accountability, and the ongoing efforts to punish those who reveal information about official wrongdoing, when working on Incident in New Baghdad. That film featured incendiary footage of a controversial U.S. helicopter attack purportedly released by a young U.S. Army Specialist named Bradley Manning, who is currently facing a court martial on charges that could result in a life prison sentence.
But Manning is not alone. Over the past several years, an arcane WWI era law called The Espionage Act has been used six times to bring charges against whistleblowers, not for revealing information to a foreign government, but for talking to the press. In fact, the current administration invoked this law more times than all previous administrations combined.
What does it take for an individual of conscience to speak out in this environment? What kind of courage and character does it take to challenge the national security policies of the most powerful nation on Earth? Though Incident was not directly about Manning, the experience of making it got me to thinking about the power of information: who controls and classifies it, who is allowed to release it, who is rewarded for its use and who is punished.
The targeting of whistleblowers raises profound questions that have implications far beyond the fates of the individuals profiled in this film. In an age where the spectre of terrorism is deemed an appropriate reason for the Executive branch to claim greater and greater powers, can the United States government maintain a commitment to the rule of law? How can a democracy that purports to champion human rights simultaneously attempt to quash criticism from within its ranks? What is the effect on our First Amendment right to dissent–and on the whole idea of a free press–when those in power single out whistleblowers for prosecution?
How you can help
SILENCED is the most ambitious, most important film of my career—and I definitely need your help to make it happen! I have been shooting now for six months, and will continue to follow these stories as they unfold. But every documentary really comes together in the edit room. And the funds we raise here on Kickstarter will allow our team to finally get into the edit room for four months with all of this amazing footage, and start to put together my film.
There are some great incentives for you to get involved at various levels of support. But really, I’d like to think the main incentive is that you care deeply about these issues and what they mean for the United States and indeed, the world.
So please support this project in any way you can. Every dollar truly will make a difference. Kickstarter is “all-or-nothing” – so we won’t get anything unless we reach our goal of $35,000 by March 14th. And if you believe in what I am doing, please help spread the word by following us on Facebook or Twitter, and sharing this link with your friends: http://kck.st/Z5yC5E
Thank you so much for your support.
Jim Spione, Producer/Director