XY Chelsea is the long-awaited documentary about the epic tale of Chelsea Manning’s exposè of American war crimes and the aftermath she faced. Going to prison and also transitioning while there, dealing with intense hatred from so-called patriots all over the country and being maligned one minute and celebrated the next by the ever-fickle press.
In 2010 Chelsea Manning, who was working as an Army intelligence officer, found a litany of disturbing documents while on leave from her tour in Iraq that implicated fellow American soldiers in what could only be described as war crimes. However, since these documents were considered classified, she was found guilty of treasonous activity. In the documentary, we see a video that is part of the leak, and it illustrates what kind of heinous activities some soldiers were up to in Afghanistan and Iraq. In said video, American soldiers killed 12 Iraqi civilians and 2 Reuters journalists. One of the soldiers is even heard laughing about it.
There were 75,000 documents that Chelsea leaked to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. When the leak was discovered, Chelsea was sentenced to 35 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces. She was certain that she would be spending the rest of her life in prison. However, at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, he commuted her sentence, and she got out in 7 years instead of a much longer 35.
“…dealing with intense hatred from so-called patriots all over the country and being maligned one minute and celebrated the next by the ever-fickle press.”
Even while Chelsea was in prison, she made waves by suing the U.S. government for not allowing her the care she needed to transition while in prison. She said, “I want to be treated like a human being. I want to be treated like a woman.” In 2014, she won the case and was given the hormones and medicine she needed to transition from Bradley to Chelsea.
XY Chelsea goes into much more harrowing detail of the mental and physical agony Chelsea went through (suicide attempts, solitary confinement in a Kuwait prison for 60 days, etc., etc.) all in the name of what she thought (and I personally believe) was patriotism. She has been through the wringer and then some.
The release of this film is extremely timely with her being released from jail again after not testifying against Julian Assange. The indictment stated “in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to…a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.” Understandably, if one observes Manning’s principles, she wouldn’t “rat” on Assange because he’s getting in hot water for helping her.
“…extremely informative and gives a more personal twist on a story that just seems like something out of a Tom Clancy novel.”
Chelsea Manning probably won’t be out of jail for long, as she is due back in court on May 16th, 2019. If you want to understand why all of this is happening, XY Chelsea is a great starting point. It’s extremely informative and gives a more personal twist on a story that just seems like something out of a Tom Clancy novel.
Tim Travers Hawkins shows us the hardships and triumphs Chelsea has experienced over the years fairly objectively. However, one can’t help but root for her at the end of the film. At least I couldn’t. Regardless of how someone might feel about what she’s done, XY Chelsea will definitely give you some insight into why she did it and maybe will help inform a better understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes in these long, awful wars that America keeps getting into.
XY Chelsea (2019) Written and Directed by Tim Travers Hawkins. Featuring Chelsea Manning, Nancy Hollander, Vincent J. Ward, Chase Strangio, Lisa Rein, Christina DiPasquale, Susan Manning, Janus Kopfstein, Kelly Wright. XY Chelsea screened at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
7 out of 10 stars