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Amanda Knox has claimed new film Stillwater sensationalises her life and rips off her story “without her consent” and “at the expense of her reputation”.

Stillwater stars Matt Damon as a father who flies to France to help his estranged daughter, Allison, played by Abigail Breslin.

She has been convicted and imprisoned for murdering her girlfriend in Marseille, in a case that has generated lurid headlines.

Knox is never named on screen, but in interviews the filmmakers have noted her sensational case was an initial jumping off point for the script.

Matt Damon stars as Bill in Stillwater. Pic: Focus Features
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Matt Damon stars as Bill – a father who flies to Europe to help his daughter who is accused of murder. Pic: Focus Features
The film is inspired by the murder of Meredith Kercher. Pic: Focus Features
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Stillwater is partly influenced by the murder of Meredith Kercher. Pic: Focus Features

In tweets and an essay on the site Medium, Knox called out various publications and director Tom McCarthy for using her name to promote the movie.

She wrote that his “fictionalised version of me is just the tabloid conspiracy guiltier version of me”.

She added: “Does my name belong to me? Does my face? What about my life? My story? Why is my name used to refer to events I had no hand in?

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“I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, and story without my consent.”

Knox was the subject of worldwide headlines after the 2007 murder in Perugia, Italy, of British student Meredith Kercher.

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were placed under suspicion. Both were initially convicted, but after a series of different decisions Italy’s highest court threw out the convictions in 2015.

Matt Damon
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Interviews and reviews of the film mention Knox as an inspiration for the story

Rudy Guede was eventually convicted for the murder and sentenced to a 16-year prison sentence in 2008.

“By fictionalising away my innocence, my total lack of involvement, by erasing the role of the authorities in my wrongful conviction, McCarthy reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person,” Knox wrote.

At the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, where Stillwater was screened, McCarthy said Knox’s case served as an “initial inspiration point but not much beyond that. I just had a daughter then and I thought how it would be like”.

Meredith Kercher
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British student Meredith Kercher was killed in Perugia, Italy in 2007

In a later interview with The Associated Press to promote Stillwater, McCarthy said he “didn’t want to kind of copy or mimic” Knox’s legal ordeal.

“It’s loosely inspired by that case, so I didn’t want to try and do a recreation of that. I want Allison to kind of be her own stand-alone character, but it was definitely great to have that for a reference,” he said.

Many reviews and feature stories about Stillwater have mentioned Knox as an inspiration for the plot. The film opens Friday.

The studio releasing the film, Focus Features, didn’t immediately respond to emails from the Associated Press on Friday.

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Diplomatic row between China and US escalates as Pentagon says second ‘spy balloon’ being tracked

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Chinese spy balloon: US sec of state Blinken speaks with senior Chinese official over cancelled visit

China has claimed the flight of an “airship” over the US was an accident and accused politicians and the media of taking advantage of the situation.

The US claims the craft is a suspected spy balloon and said it had committed a “clear violation” of US sovereignty.

China insisted it is used for meteorological and other scientific research.

“China has always strictly abided by international law and respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

US officials said earlier that it had postponed a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken following the sighting.

However, a Chinese spokesperson said Beijing and Washington had not announced any visit and that “the US announcements are their own matter and we respect that”.

Watch:
Future Wars: Could there ever be a conflict between the US and China?

The foreign ministry said in a separate statement that Wang Yi, director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, had spoken to Mr Blinken on Friday evening and discussed how to deal with accidental incidents in a calm and professional manner.

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A suspected spy balloon – not the moon

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed a second “spy balloon” was being tracked.

He added: “We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”

US authorities confirmed the initial balloon tracked across the US in recent days was a Chinese surveillance device.

In a news conference on Friday, the US defence department said the balloon is heading eastwards but poses “no physical or military threat” to civilians.

The Pentagon’s press secretary would not confirm the current location of the balloon, which is operating at around 60,000ft.

A map showing where the balloon was spotted and the US's Malmstrom Air Force Base
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A map showing where the balloon was spotted and the US’s Malmstrom Air Force Base

Read more:
What are spy balloons?

Biden’s response is measured but anchored in reality

There is also no evidence of any nuclear or radioactive material on board but it has the ability to be manoeuvred, according to Brig Gen Ryder.

The object is believed to have flown over the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska, and through Canada before entering the US.

Military and defence leaders had considered shooting the balloon out of the sky but decided against it due to the safety risk from falling debris.

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What are spy balloons and why could they play a key role in the future of aerial reconnaissance?

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What are spy balloons and why could they play a key role in the future of aerial reconnaissance?

In an era of orbital satellites so advanced that they are able to make out objects half the size of cars from space, a spy balloon might seem like a bit of a relic.

They were a prominent tool for reconnaissance during the Cold War and were even used in a more basic form for intelligence gathering in the Napoleonic Wars more than 200 years ago.

But security experts say the balloons are just the “tip of a revolution” in the development and use of new high-altitude surveillance craft, with the UK even investing millions in a project to develop spy balloons last year.

It comes as the US military on Friday said it was tracking a suspected Chinese spy balloon, described as being the size of three buses, that has been flying over northwestern America in recent days.

A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings in Montana but the Pentagon would not confirm whether it was the surveillance balloon
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A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings in Montana

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Chinese spy balloon flying over US airspace, says Pentagon
Spy balloon over US is actually a ‘civilian airship’, says China

A senior defence official said the US has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon and was flying over sensitive sites to collect information, while China has not immediately denied the balloon belonged to them.

Beijing admitted that the balloon had come from China, but insisted it was a “civilian airship” that had strayed into American airspace and that it was for meteorological and other scientific research.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is postponing a high-profile visit to China which had been due to begin on Sunday.

What are spy balloons?

The devices are lightweight balloons, filled with gas, usually helium, and attached to a piece of spying equipment such as a long-range camera.

They can be launched from the ground and are sent up into the air where they can reach heights of between 60,000ft (18,000m) and 150,000ft (45,000m), above the flight paths of commercial aircraft in an area known as “near space”.

Once in the air, they travel using a mixture of air currents and pressurised air pockets, which can act as a form of steering.

Why are they still useful in the satellite era?

According to defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke, the biggest advantage of spy balloons over satellites are that they can study an area over a longer period of time.

Sky News' Defence Analyst Prof Michael Clarke
Image:
Professor Michael Clarke

“The advantage is they can stay in one place for a long time,” he told Sky News.

“Because of the way the Earth rotates, unless a satellite is over the Equator, you need three to five satellites going all the time to track the same spot.

“These balloons are also relatively cheap, and much easier to launch than a satellite.”

Will balloons continue to be used in future for spying?

Very much so, according to Professor Clarke.

Despite the wide use of satellite technology, countries including the UK are also focusing on the development and use of spycraft to operate in the upper atmosphere.

In August, it was announced the Ministry of Defence had agreed a £100m deal with US defence company Sierra Nevada to provide high-altitude unmanned balloons to be used for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Professor Clarke said: “(These balloons) are the very tip of the revolution for passive upper atmosphere aircraft.”

He said other defence firms, such as BAE, were working on ultralight solar-powered drones which are able to operate in the upper atmosphere and stay in place for up to 20 months.

Why have China used them now?

According to Professor Clarke, the use of these balloons, if indeed they were launched by China, will likely have been a message to the US following its decision to open new military bases in the Philippines.

“I think it’s a challenge,” he said.

“They (China) are signalling that if the US is going to come closer to them then they will be more aggressive with their surveillance.

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Could there be a US-China war?

Watch: Future Wars: Could there ever be a conflict between the US and China?

“It is also caused a political issue in the US now, because it will be seen as a sign of weakness not to shoot it down.

“This causes some embarrassment, but the US doesn’t need to respond.”

The balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana, on Wednesday – close to one of the US’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

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Mao Ning, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, says that those involved should be ‘cool-headed’

Military and defence leaders said they considered shooting the balloon out of the sky but decided against it due to the safety risk from falling debris.

Professor Clarke added: “I think the debris issue is a bit of an excuse. It was over one of the least densely populated areas of the US and if they needed to they could have asked everyone to stay inside.

“I don’t think they wanted to make it a bigger issue, because China are daring them to shoot it down and make it an international issue.”

Continue Reading

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What are spy balloons and why could they play a key role in the future of aerial reconnaissance?

Published

on

By

What are spy balloons and why could they play a key role in the future of aerial reconnaissance?

In an era of orbital satellites so advanced that they are able to make out objects half the size of cars from space, a spy balloon might seem like a bit of a relic.

They were a prominent tool for reconnaissance during the Cold War and were even used in a more basic form for intelligence gathering in the Napoleonic Wars more than 200 years ago.

But security experts say the balloons are just the “tip of a revolution” in the development and use of new high-altitude surveillance craft, with the UK even investing millions in a project to develop spy balloons last year.

It comes as the US military on Friday said it was tracking a suspected Chinese spy balloon, described as being the size of three buses, that has been flying over northwestern America in recent days.

A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings in Montana but the Pentagon would not confirm whether it was the surveillance balloon
Image:
A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings in Montana

Read more:
Chinese spy balloon flying over US airspace, says Pentagon
Spy balloon over US is actually a ‘civilian airship’, says China

A senior defence official said the US has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon and was flying over sensitive sites to collect information, while China has not immediately denied the balloon belonged to them.

Beijing admitted that the balloon had come from China, but insisted it was a “civilian airship” that had strayed into American airspace and that it was for meteorological and other scientific research.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is postponing a high-profile visit to China which had been due to begin on Sunday.

What are spy balloons?

The devices are lightweight balloons, filled with gas, usually helium, and attached to a piece of spying equipment such as a long-range camera.

They can be launched from the ground and are sent up into the air where they can reach heights of between 60,000ft (18,000m) and 150,000ft (45,000m), above the flight paths of commercial aircraft in an area known as “near space”.

Once in the air, they travel using a mixture of air currents and pressurised air pockets, which can act as a form of steering.

Why are they still useful in the satellite era?

According to defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke, the biggest advantage of spy balloons over satellites are that they can study an area over a longer period of time.

Sky News' Defence Analyst Prof Michael Clarke
Image:
Professor Michael Clarke

“The advantage is they can stay in one place for a long time,” he told Sky News.

“Because of the way the Earth rotates, unless a satellite is over the Equator, you need three to five satellites going all the time to track the same spot.

“These balloons are also relatively cheap, and much easier to launch than a satellite.”

Will balloons continue to be used in future for spying?

Very much so, according to Professor Clarke.

Despite the wide use of satellite technology, countries including the UK are also focusing on the development and use of spycraft to operate in the upper atmosphere.

In August, it was announced the Ministry of Defence had agreed a £100m deal with US defence company Sierra Nevada to provide high-altitude unmanned balloons to be used for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Professor Clarke said: “(These balloons) are the very tip of the revolution for passive upper atmosphere aircraft.”

He said other defence firms, such as BAE, were working on ultralight solar-powered drones which are able to operate in the upper atmosphere and stay in place for up to 20 months.

Why have China used them now?

According to Professor Clarke, the use of these balloons, if indeed they were launched by China, will likely have been a message to the US following its decision to open new military bases in the Philippines.

“I think it’s a challenge,” he said.

“They (China) are signalling that if the US is going to come closer to them then they will be more aggressive with their surveillance.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Could there be a US-China war?

Watch: Future Wars: Could there ever be a conflict between the US and China?

“It is also caused a political issue in the US now, because it will be seen as a sign of weakness not to shoot it down.

“This causes some embarrassment, but the US doesn’t need to respond.”

The balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana, on Wednesday – close to one of the US’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mao Ning, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, says that those involved should be ‘cool-headed’

Military and defence leaders said they considered shooting the balloon out of the sky but decided against it due to the safety risk from falling debris.

Professor Clarke added: “I think the debris issue is a bit of an excuse. It was over one of the least densely populated areas of the US and if they needed to they could have asked everyone to stay inside.

“I don’t think they wanted to make it a bigger issue, because China are daring them to shoot it down and make it an international issue.”

Continue Reading

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