Oppenheimer-adjacent: Steve James’ A COMPASSIONATE SPY Opens August 4 at the Film Center

If you loved the Barbenheimer theater-going extravaganza this month, we have another thrilling film to add to your calendar. The Gene Siskel Film Center is presenting a Chicago premiere run of Steve James’ A COMPASSIONATE SPY beginning Friday, August 4. The documentary will screen for two weeks and include two in-person Q&As with director Steve James on Sunday, August 6, at 1:45 p.m. and Monday, August 7, at 8:15 p.m. 

A COMPASSIONATE SPY, the new documentary from Academy Award-nominated Chicago filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, LIFE ITSELF), is a gripping, real-life spy story about controversial Manhattan Project physicist Ted Hall, who infamously provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, told through the perspective of his loving wife Joan, who protected his secret for decades.

Here is your first look at the film…

Recruited in 1944 as an 18-year-old University of Chicago graduate student to help Robert Oppenheimer and his team create a bomb, Hall was the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project, and didn’t share his colleagues’ elation after the successful detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb. Concerned that a U.S. post-war monopoly on such a powerful weapon could lead to nuclear catastrophe, Hall began passing key information about the bomb’s construction to the Soviet Union. After the war, he met, fell in love with, and married Joan, a fellow student with whom he shared a passion for classical music and socialist causes —and the explosive secret of his espionage. The pair raised a family while living under a cloud of suspicion and years of FBI surveillance and intimidation. 

Two-time Oscar® nominee Steve James’ nuanced and ever-relevant documentary reveals the twists and turns of this real-life spy story, its profound impact on nuclear history, and the couple’s remarkable love and life together during more than 50 years of marriage.

Click here for tickets and for more from the Siskel Film Center.

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