- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Director Oliver Stone said Thursday at Comic-Con that every major movie studio turned down his narrative film about Edward Snowden because of censorship from their corporate leaders.

Stone, who has chronicled many American conspiracies in his films, said he does not believe an entity like the National Security Agency is putting pressure on the studios, but the corporate boards who control them.

He got financing from France and Germany for the movie, which comes out Sept. 16 and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden.

Stone said he believes Snowden is still “a mystery” despite many interviews, articles and the Oscar-winning documentary “Citizenfour” exploring the former NSA contractor who leaked thousands of classified documents about the government’s surveillance programs.

Snowden now lives in Russia, and Stone met with him a number of times in Moscow, trying to gain his trust and decide whether to take on the project.

Gordon-Levitt also tried to get to know Snowden before portraying him. The actor said he was particularly surprised at Snowden’s optimism about the ability of technology to positively change the future.

The conversation Thursday took a decidedly heady turn, away from the usual fanboy fun and toward big ideas about government transparency and the surveillance state.

“We’re promised privacy in the Constitution, and if the government was going to change those rules, they have to be open about it,” Gordon-Levitt said. “We’re supposed to have that conversation and decide together.”

The film is set to screen for the first time Thursday at the annual fan convention. Although Stone and the cast have their own views on Snowden, the filmmaker stressed that the movie is not one-sided.

“We don’t want to take sides on this in the movie,” Stone said. “You have to see the movie to explore the positions.”

Gordon-Levitt added that it’s a story that does not lend itself to a headline.

“It isn’t even as simple as a two-hour film,” he said.

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