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Annapolis Film Festival to screen “Official Secrets” on Tuesday at Maryland Hall

| September 07, 2019, 09:29 AM

The Annapolis Film Festival, in association with Maryland Hall and the Goldstein-Cunitz New Media Center, presents a special screening of the narrative feature film, OFFICIAL SECRETS, at Maryland Hall in the Bowen Theater Tuesday, September 10th, 2019, at 7 PM. The doors will open at 6:30 PM. The critically acclaimed film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Tickets are $15 each and are available for advanced purchase online at or you can purchase day of RUSH LINE tickets at the door, cash only.

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She risked everything to stop an unjust war. Her government called her a traitor. Based on world-shaking true events, Official Secrets tells the gripping story of Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist whose job involves routine handling of classified information. One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, Gun receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on United Nations Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into an illegal war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press. So begins an explosive chain of events that will ignite an international firestorm, expose a vast political conspiracy, and put Gun and her family directly in harm’s way. Directed by Gavin Hood, written by Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein and Gavin Hood, OFFICIAL SECRETS, is an IFC Films movie.

On March 2, 200 , British newspaper The Observer published a front page article with the headline, “Revealed: US Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War.” This was mere weeks before the United States would invade Iraq and topple the regime of Saddam Hussein – but journalists Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy and Peter Beaumont were detailing a blackmail scheme targeted at members of the United Nations Security Council from five countries, coercing them to authorize the invasion.

The breathtaking claims in the article, challenging the whole pretext for war, were based in part on a classified email that had been leaked from a British intelligence agency called Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). As a rigorous internal investigation began at GCHQ to expose the whistleblower, a quiet young translator in her late twenties stepped forward to confess to the leak.

Her name was Katharine Gun.

“Whistleblowers do tend to be unusual people,” says The Observer’s Martin Bright, the first journalist to receive the leaked email. “They tend to be loners or quite strange people. Katharine was amazingly sane. She was very clear about why she’d done what she did. She’s someone who decided to take this stand at considerable cost to her career and her personal life.”

Daniel Ellsberg, the famed whistleblower behind the leak in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers (the subject of Steven Spielberg’s 2017 drama The Post), remarked that Gun’s actions signified “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.” Gun’s actions did not prevent the invasion of Iraq, which commenced on March 19, 2003, or the huge loss of life that followed. In the American media, her story was only glancingly covered. In 2004, she went to trial, defended by human rights lawyer Ben Emmerson (portrayed in the film by Ralph Fiennes). And remarkably, the charges against her were dropped – with many suspecting that the British government risked exposure and embarrassment if it pursued a case against Gun, especially after the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq had proved fruitless.

Her story, however, is finally being told.

The Annapolis Film Festival, now in its eighth year, is a 501c3 organization committed to providing ongoing cultural arts activities for the community through the cinematic film experience. For more information or to join our e-blast list for upcoming events visit

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