Firebrand filmmaker Oliver Stone said that every major Hollywood studio turned down “Snowden,” his new film about the NSA employee who leaked thousands of confidential documents and revealed mass government data gathering domestically and abroad.
The film, which screens on Friday evening at the Toronto Film Festival, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, who now lives as a political exile in Russia.
“Joseph was my first choice for the role, I called him early,” Stone told TheWrap. But even with the actor attached he could not get studio financing. “He and Shailene [Woodley], the budget, the script — was still rejected by every major studio. It was a torturous process.”
Ultimately, the indie distributor Open Road stepped in, said Stone, “but it was basically European money, German and French that made the movie.”
Does he think the major studios were afraid?
“Yes, I do, they [practice] self-censorship like in the McCarthy era. It’s a chilling effect, they’re scared, they don’t know what’s going to happen. And many of them are conglomerates who have a deal with the government. You have a merger coming up, you don’t want the Justice Department to look at you. You don’t want to have a controversial film. It’s easy to say no — it’s easy for lawyers to say no. “
Stone also weighed in on the presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
“Neither of them have discussed Mr. Snowden, the surveillance state, neither of them have discussed the environmental crisis we’re in, nor the wars we’re in –= we’re in four or five wars,” Stone said. “It’s a trivial election in that sense. They’re not discussing issues that matter to the people. “
Regarding Trump, Stone said: “I don’t think he has a chance to win, I think his words are erratic… I don’t believe he has a chance, I could be wrong. The media is so against him. Hillary Clinton seems to be the consensus candidate for the time, and I have sincere worries about her.
“She doesn’t seem to think about the mistakes she made as Secretary of State. .. We need a peace candidate — where is a peace candidate? The Democratic Party is a war party.”
The director concluded: “I’ll probably vote for Jill Stein or maybe Gary Johnson. We should send a message to Congress that this doesn’t work anymore.”