Cannes Lions | Article
Oliver Stone, Snowden, And Bravery In Storytelling

Regardless of your political opinions or views on his intent, most people can recognize a certain amount of courage in Edward Snowden’s 2013 release of National Security Agency (NSA) documents. Whether patriot or traitor, there is bravery in standing up for what you believe and facing its impact on your professional reputation or personal life.

This bravery was at the heart of a raw, politically-minded conversation between the Guardian’s Casper Llewellyn Smith and Oliver Stone at the Cannes Lions. Previewing his upcoming film “Snowden,” about the controversial figure of the same name, Stone spoke candidly about his opinions on all things divisive, from government surveillance to the upcoming U.S. presidential election and Brexit.


As he speaks, you almost begin to believe he could find satisfaction in nothing short of genuine anarchy. With a catalog of transcendent films that have shaken up the establishment and called political motivations into question, he prides himself on challenging the status quo, but is unwavering in two areas: his creativity and principles.

Bold lessons to be adopted in our own industry. Creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Stone sees his movies as a depiction of history, a moment of time displayed on screen, but most importantly an opportunity to learn. He credits each of his movies as helping him to figure out a small piece of the world.


Take risks based on your beliefs, but more importantly, Stone warns: “if you are going to make the movie, be responsible for it.”

If creative is centered on your principles and perception of the truth, do not compromise in the face of adversity. Be prepared to defend them and manage the consequences of that decision. Learn from the experience and soldier on.

A disagreement over creative may not find you seeking political asylum abroad, but, like Stone and Snowden, it is important to rebel against the norm.

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