“I had never read something that literally felt like a play or a movie but was real”: Tina Satter on Reality
Bringing to screen the real investigative case of jailed whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner, who leaked intelligence reports to the media about Russian interference in the US Elections of 2016, the film Reality, directed by Tina Satter from a screenplay written by her and James Paul Dallas, is a docudrama centred on the day of Winner’s arrest when the FBI turned up at her home with potential evidence to interrogate her as a suspect. It offers intense scrutiny of the events on that specific day alongside the original verbatim script of the police interview and her confession that resulted in her being taken into custody.
Satter already adapted the events into a successful stage play called Is This A Room before she chose to also capture the events in her first feature film. Starring Sydney Sweeney as Winner, the movie follows an uncomfortable process of intimidation from the police questioning, only broken up with peppered moments of real photographs of Winner taken from her social media accounts. These form intentional glitches in the flow of the film, alongside brief pauses when the characters disappear briefly from sight, but all the while an intense focus is kept on Winner and the FBI agents as they slowly break her lies down.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to the writer and director about why she chose to adapt this story for both theatre and screen, how she went about the casting process, the filming aspects of the project and what it was like meeting Reality Leigh Winner herself.
Reality is released in UK cinemas on 2nd June 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for Reality here: