Hot Docs 2019: XY Chelsea

XY Chelsea (2019) Documentary | 1 May 2019 (USA) Summary: A look at the life and career of Chelsea Manning, a trans woman soldier in the United States Army, who was sentenced to serve 35 years at an all-male military prison for leaking information about the country's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Countries: UKLanguages: English

A trans whisleblower becomes an activist upon her release from prison in XY Chelsea. Chelsea Manning is a former US Army intelligence analyst, who was charged with uploading over 750,000 documents pertaining to the Iraq War to Wikileaks. In addition, Chelsea decided to come out as a trans woman while she was in the middle of being court marshaled. Sentenced to 35 years in prison, Chelsea’s sentence was commuted by President Obama in 2017. Since then, she has become an activist, standing up for trans rights and even beginning a campaign to run for senate.

When filmmaker Tim Travers Hawkins set out to make XY Chelsea, Chelsea Manning was still serving her 35 year prison sentence for leaking classified government documents and videos, showing the killing of innocent Iraq citizens. The scope of the documentary changed, as Chelsea Manning is released on prison and becomes activist protesting Donald Trump and the Alt Right. However, when she decides to run for senate, the constant public scrutiny begins to get to Chelsea.

While XY Chelsea isn’t specifically about the fact that Chelsea Manning was a trans soldier, that aspect does add an added layer to her story, since she was forced to serve her time in an all-male prison and was the subject of much scrutiny. This contributes to her activism upon release, particularly in response to Donald Trump’s comments about trans people in the military. Sadly, another chapter will have to be added to XY Chelsea, as she returned to prison just recently, as she was found in contempt after refusing to answer a grand jury’s questions about Julian Assange. That adds yet another layer to this story of someone, who just wanted to world to know the truth.

Screening

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).