On June 3, 2017, 25-year-old Reality Winner returns from running errands to find two FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia. An Air Force veteran and yoga instructor, Winner spends the next two hours being questioned about her work as an intelligence contractor – specifically, whether she leaked a classified document about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
With all dialogue taken from the FBI transcript, Reality tells the tense, mesmerizing story of what transpired inside Winner’s home that afternoon. As she navigates the federal agents’ questions, Winner is revealed to be a fairly typical 20-something: She treasures her pets, loves to travel, teaches CrossFit, shares selfies on social media.
Written and directed by Tina Satter in a powerful feature film debut, Reality stars Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria, The White Lotus) as Reality, Josh Hamilton (Eight Grade, The Walking Dead) as Special Agent Garrick and Marchánt Davis (The Day Shall Come, Tuscaloosa) as Special Agent Taylor.
Satter and cinematographer Paul Yee (The Fits, Colewell) employ an array of visual techniques to remind viewers of the story’s truth and the woman at its center – real social media posts and news segments, images of the transcript being typed – as well as others that help create a taut, immersive and dreamlike piece of cinema. (For instance, flashes of color illuminate redacted moments in the conversation, and lingering close-ups highlight Sweeney’s astounding performance.) A score by Nathan Micay (Industry, The Last Bus) amplifies the tension.
Reality examines truth, power and the U.S. legal system through the lens of one intimate, disconcerting and very real encounter, provoking conversations that endure long after the final frame.