The CIA commissioned this documentary detailing twenty-one years of captivity endured by two CIA officers shot down in 1952 on a classified mission over Manchuria. At the time the CIA was attempting to destabilize the newly installed communist government of Mao Tse Tung. The two men, John Downey and Richard Fecteau endured years in solitary confinement as their families were told they were dead. Upon their return they granted only one interview and it was intended for training purposes. The secrets they shared would never leave the CIA The film was originally intended to be shown to CIA recruits at Camp Perry, Virginia. Eventually CIA Director George Tenant declassified the film. Former senior CIA officers were interviewed including the Head of Clandestine service and the Director of Personnel. Chinese archives provided context and re-enactments of the ordeal brought the men’s account to life.
Behind The Scenes
The production was designed to illustrate how the agency supports officers who are captured, how they try to secure their release and how there is a system in place to support families who can’t be told the full story. The production team was admitted to a CIA location and shown the two men’s classified debriefs, providing critical insights that were reflected in the script.