EXCLUSIVE: We can confirm that Neither Confirm Nor Deny has been acquired for North American distribution by Greenwich Entertainment. The company plans a theatrical release later this year for the documentary about a dramatic incident from the Cold War, which involved an attempt to capture an alluring prize on the ocean floor.
Philip Carter makes his directorial debut with the film, which premiered at DOC NYC last November.
“At the height of the Cold War, the CIA is tasked with an audacious covert mission: recovering a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine from the bottom of the ocean,” notes a description of the documentary. “The mission hangs in the balance as the agency and its activities are caught in a power play between the press and the White House. With firsthand accounts from the principal players, Neither Confirm Nor Deny is a timely look into America’s clandestine underbelly with a long history of questionable tactics.”
The high-stakes tale goes back to 1974 when the Ford administration undertook a secret effort to locate the Soviet sub K-129, which had sundered after an on-board explosion. The U.S. built a vessel known as the Hughes Glomar Explorer to try to locate and retrieve the sub.
“I’m thrilled that we have Greenwich on board to help this incredible story reach as wide an audience as possible,” Carter said in a statement. “The lessons and risks of this daring attempt by the US to steal Soviet nuclear weapons are more timely than ever. Today we see state actors constantly probing opponents’ defenses through hacking, espionage and covert activity, and false flag operations, while the spectre of nuclear weapons remains ever present.”
In 1975, Time magazine investigative journalist Jack Anderson broke the story of the effort to raise K-129. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh got wind of it too, prompting the Ford administration to implore the New York Times to delay publication of the story.
In a Q&A in conjunction with the DOC NYC world premiere, the director noted, “The story does work on a number of levels. Obviously, it is kind of a jaw-dropping spy heist in its own right, but it also touches on issues that are kind of relevant today as they were back in ’74, ’75. There’s a real question of national security and the kind of eternal tensions between an administration and governments and press.”
Neither Confirm Nor Deny may get a fictional adaptation as well, producer Sheryl Crown said during that DOC NYC Q&A.
“When Phil pitched the property I thought, ‘Well, this is an extraordinary spy story. I don’t understand how it could have happened. And I thought it was an extraordinary investigative journalism story as well,” Crown said. “It’s two stories in one. And we actually thought the scale of it was so huge that we could tell this as a documentary feature and also as a fiction feature, so sort of develop simultaneously doc feature and a fiction feature. But we’re really pleased the doc feature is now completed.”
Neither Confirm Nor Deny is a Southern Stories, Idless Films Limited and New Sparta Production. It was produced by Sheryl Crown, Maggie Monteith, and Christopher Simon with executive producers Jerome Booth, Liam Halligan, and Chris Reed. Greenwich’s Andy Bohn negotiated the acquisition with Submarine Entertainment Sale’s Ben Schwartz on behalf of the filmmakers.