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Winner Finds Humor in a Whisteblower Thriller

We’re back at Sundance in the Vulture Spot, where we’re interviewing the casts and creators of the year’s buzziest films. Check out all our coverage from the film fest here.

Susanna Fogel is a director that can have it all. In this case, having it all means sprinkling bits on comedy atop a serious film about election interference. “’Political thriller’ doesn’t make it seem like its gonna make you laugh, but overselling the laugh makes it seem like we don’t take seriously what she did,” Fogel said at Sundance 2024. Her new film Winner follows the life of whistleblower Reality Winner, a young NSA agent who leaked evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to The Intercept a year later. So how and why did Fogel make any of this funny? “If you could make up a person who’s a good comedic character, it would have a lot of what [Winner] has,” she explained. “Letting situations be funny when they’re funny creates a situation where the dramatic stuff hits really hard.” More about the film in the Vulture Spot interview above, including:

➼ How an article in New York Magazine got wheels turning. (This is not self-promotion, she brought it up!)
➼ Emilia Jones pulling a, shall we say, May December by visiting real-life Reality and the Winner family in Texas to get into character.
➼ Zach Galifinakis getting into the role of Reality’s dad.

Winner also stars Kathryn Newton and Connie Britton. It premiered at Sundance on January 20.

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