Screened as part of NZIFF 2023

Reality 2023

Directed by Tina Satter Widescreen

Anchored by a remarkable performance from Sydney Sweeney, Reality reconstructs the interrogation and arrest of American whistleblower Reality Winner in real-time, to disturbing, pulse-pounding effect.

Jul 21

The Civic

Jul 26

The Civic

Jul 27

Rialto Cinemas Newmarket

Jul 30

The Bridgeway Cinema

USA In English
85 minutes Colour / DCP



Noah Stahl
Brad Becker-Parton
Riva Marker
Greg Nobile


Tina Satter
James Paul Dallas. Based on the play by Tina Satter


Paul Yee


Jennifer Vecchiarello
Ron Dulin

Production Designer

Tommy Love

Costume Designer

Enver Chakartash


Sydney Sweeney
Josh Hamilton
Marchánt Davis


Sydney 2023


Sydney Sweeney delivers a performance of astonishing naturalism as unassuming yoga-teacher turned whistleblower Reality Winner in this assured debut from playwright Tina Satter. Adapted from Satter’s own play Is This a Room, Reality offers a real-time reconstruction of the events of June 3, 2017, when 25-year-old Reality Winner, air force veteran and yoga instructor, is confronted by FBI agents at her home in Georgia. A part-time intelligence contractor, Winner leaked classified documents related to Russian interference in the American election of Donald Trump in 2016 to the press, an action that saw her prosecuted and which had a wide-ranging impact on American democracy.

Satter’s film unfolds with chilling, low-key menace, as Winner is slowly coerced into revealing the truth to two agents (played with unsettling sliminess by Eighth Grade’s Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis) while other agents search her home. Though it is Winner whose home is being invaded, the surrealism of the affair is heightened by the geniality of her interactions with the agents, as they joke about pets and the gym in-between heavy-duty questioning.

What elevates this exercise in simmering, slowly escalating panic (confined to practically one room for much of its action), is the way the film tracks almost imperceptible power shifts—a wayward glance, an offhand statement dripping with menace, a change in body language that reveals the agents’ true intentions. Satter makes great use of her clinical, invasive camera and sharp, unexpected moments of sound from outside the room punctuating the interrogation—a dog’s bark, a door slamming. At the center of it all is Sweeney, tremors of terror registering in subtle ripples of emotion across her face. It’s a performance of vanity-free dedication and control from the Euphoria and The White Lotus star, and one that is sure to generate awards conversation at year’s end. — Tom Augustine