In late June of 2013, as United States leaders were publicly labelling him as a “coward” and a “traitor”, Edward Snowden was hiding from authorities in Hong Kong. Terminal F: Chasing Edward Snowden dramatizes the pulse-pounding moments prior to and in the aftermath of this moment.
Just three weeks earlier, he nervously handed over nearly a million top secret documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) to journalists from the world’s most renowned newspapers. These classified materials painted a frightening picture of a U.S. government whose surveillance activities far exceeded constitutional boundaries, and whose efforts worked to sabotage the interests of ordinary citizens they were sworn to protect. Once the documents were revealed to the world and Snowden’s identity was exposed, a massive global manhunt ensued.
Around every corner, Snowden never knew when he might be arrested or even killed. He was an enemy of the state now. The United States government – made weak and hostile from the revelations revealed in the leaked documents – was diligent in their attempts to arrange extradition back to their country so Snowden could face the legal consequences of his actions. In the end, a simple clerical error might have been the only factor that helped him evade harm or capture.
Strikingly photographed and sharply edited, Terminal F: Chasing Edward Snowden presents a solid primer on his position at the NSA, his motivations for exposing sensitive and potentially damaging materials, and the reality of living as one of the most notorious whistleblowers in American history. It’s well-trodden territory, but the film provides fresh and revealing insights along the way, thanks to interviews with his father, his co-workers, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, reporter Glenn Greenwald, and Snowden himself.
Whether you believe Snowden to be a sinner or a saint, the film will likely prove most enlightening in its minutia. Benefiting from the moment by moment perspectives of figures from both sides of the story, the narrative plays out like an all-too-real game of cat and mouse. We’re given a tangible sense of what it must feel like to be a hunted man.
Directed by: John Goetz, Poul-Erik Heilbuth