Has President Obama Seen 'Snowden'? There's A Lot Riding On The Movie
It's been an interesting summer in Hollywood for President Barack Obama. The Leader of the Free World has been the subject of not one, but two different fictionalized biopics. First came the romance Southside With You, about his first date with Michelle Obama. Then it was Barry, a film about his college years that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 10. But perhaps the most important movie involving the president this summer is related to him a little less directly: Snowden. So, has President Obama seen the movie Snowden ?
There's no evidence that Obama has seen the film. He hasn't commented publicly on it and (surprise!) he didn't attend the invite-only screening at Comic Con in July or the film's premiere at TIFF on September 10. But the film, which will hit theaters in the U.S. on September 16, is definitely bringing the case of Edward Snowden into the public eye on a larger scale than any time since perhaps 2013, when the former government contractor allegedly leaked classified NSA documents to the press and fled the country. And for the people involved with the movie, they're certainly hoping that the film gets the attention of the president.
As you're probably aware, Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013. That's because he's wanted in the U.S., and risks certain imprisonment should he return home. But he doesn't think he should be in this situation. Using the platform of the film's publicity, Snowden is asking Obama for a presidential pardon. On September 13, just three days before the film's release, he told The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill, "Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things."
Also hoping for a pardon is Snowden director Oliver Stone, who's optimistic his film will change people's opinions — including the president's — on Snowden. According to Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter, Stone said at a TIFF press conference, "Mr. Obama could pardon him, and we hope so. We hope Mr. Obama has a stroke of lightning, and he sees the way."
However, the chance of a presidential pardon for Snowden remains slim. Obama has never publicly changed his stance on Snowden, whom he has stated should be charged for his alleged crimes, and I'm not sure a movie will change his mind. But that definitely seems to be the hope of Snowden.