XY Chelsea tells the story of Chelsea Manning, the controversial whistleblower whose 35-year sentence in a maximum security prison was commuted by President Obama in 2017. XY Chelsea is the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her on-going and current fight for freedom of press and information.

★★★★ - The Observer

★★★★ - Total Film

“Moving” - The Hollywood Reporter


After instigating the largest of leak of secrets in US history - when she disclosed 750,000 documents to Wikileaks - ex-soldier and trans woman Chelsea Manning was supposed to spend most of the rest of her life behind bars in an all-male military prison. But on January 17 2017, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence, in an unprecedented and controversial move that divided the United States and the world.

XY Chelsea follows Chelsea Manning as she leaves prison after seven years inside, and begins a new life, whilst at the same time having to deal with the far-reaching consequences of her past - the historic leaks that lead to her prison sentences, the unintended celebrity status that is thrust on her as one of the world’s most notorious whistleblowers, and transitioning to become the woman she has always known herself to be.

XY Chelsea is an intimate character portrait of a fascinating, unique and complex woman, a true rebel and outsider, who after making history must now start a new life, in a world which is far from welcoming, and in the shadow of rising Nationalism and intolerance, which has fomented hate and division throughout America.


Tim Travers Hawkins is an award-winning independent director, cinematographer and multimedia artist. He co-founded the award-winning Colombian experimental film collective ‘Cinemachete’, whose work included El Otro Lado de La Cienaga (2007), Oury Jalloh (2008), and Posh (2010).

Further credits include the acclaimed animated film 1000 Voices (2008), Surpriseville (2012) and the multimedia interactive project Invisible Picture Show (2014) which was installed at The United Nations in New York and the UNHCR in Geneva.


Filmmakers: Tim Travers Hawkins
Country: UK
Year: 2019
Runtime: 92'
Format: 4K


Festival highlights

Tribeca Film Festival 2019

Hot Docs 2019

IDFA 2019