News / Arts & Entertainment

Films Offer Contrasting Views of WikiLeaks

Films Offer Contrasting Views of WikiLeaksi
X
October 22, 2013 4:53 PM
Bill Condon’s feature film, "The Fifth Estate," on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, focuses on the war of information in the digital era and asks whether the freedom to publish classified documents should supersede national security. The docudrama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, comes on the heels of Alex Gibney’s documentary, "We Steal Secrets," on the same subject. Both movies, though very different, show that in the digital age, information is still power. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.

Films Offer Contrasting Views of WikiLeaks

Penelope Poulou
Bill Condon’s feature film, The Fifth Estate, on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, focuses on the war of information in the digital era and asks whether the freedom to publish classified documents should supersede national security.

The docudrama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, comes on the heels of Alex Gibney’s documentary, We Steal Secrets, on the same subject. Both movies, though very different, show that in the digital age, information is still power.

In 2010, more than 90,000 classified US military documents were published on an obscure website by Australian computer hacker Julian Assange. Assange and his Wikileaks are the main characters in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate.

"If we could find one moral man, one whistleblower, someone willing to expose those secrets, then men could topple the most powerful and most repressive of regimes,” the Assange character says in the film.

In the movie, Assange takes center stage long before his massive release of classified US military logs from the war in Afghanistan. The film portrays him as brilliant, egocentric, and unscrupulous, releasing information regardless of the human cost. His ideas put him at odds with his WikiLeaks collaborator Daniel Berg.

“There are things that are true on the Internet and there are things that aren’t true on the Internet," Condon said. "So, who is ultimately going to be able to help us distinguish between those two. That’s been the traditional role of journalism, The Fourth Estate, but it takes money. The Fifth Estate has emerged recently and represents the kind of citizen journalism that’s emerged in the age of the Internet.”

Although Condon says his story is balanced, he steers the audience against Assange and his simplistic treatment of the character led Assange to decry the film.

Many film critics agree that the film lacks the depth of Alex Gibney’s documentary We Steal Secrets, about Assange and Private Bradley Manning, who provided the documents.  

“The deeper I got into it, the more I began to wonder why isn’t Manning a bigger part of this story," Gibney said, "so the focus began to shift and Bradley Manning  I would say is just as important to this film as Julian Assange."

Gibney presents Manning’s torment over the information he stumbled on. He also presents Guardian reporter Nick Davies as an important participant in redacting sensitive information from the documents.

In a statement, reporter Mark Davis, who was with Assange during the collaboration with The Guardian, paints a different picture.   

"Everyone in the room was hell bent on meeting the release date despite Assange’s reservations," Davis said. "It was Assange, entirely alone, who removed 10,000 names prior to the release."

Whatever his moral choices, both films agree Assange revolutionized the way information reaches us today.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Arbed
October 23, 2013 4:53 AM
Hear what people who know and work with Julian Assange had to say after seeing the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9YrH8FyWs0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUcg9c3gXb_rwyqzeCaLuHDA

Also, you should be really careful about recommending Alex Gibney's documentary We Steal Secrets. The director held a personal animosity towards Assange because the latter would not grant him an interview, so Gibney actually told lots of lies in his film. Example: There really is no excuse for a documentary maker to interview a woman making allegations of sexual assault, juxtapose that interview with a photograph from the police forensic evidence file of the torn, "used" condom she handed to police, and then NOT tell his viewers that the forensic lab ALSO found that the condom in question didn't have any DNA on it - not even hers. Clearly, she's handed in fake evidence and, clearly, that must have been obvious to Alex Gibney when he read the police file during his research. Reputable filmmakers don't do that, and Alex Gibney's willingness to knowingly use false evidence in this film can only lead to the question "What else isn't true in this movie?"

Get the real facts here: http://wikileaks.org/IMG/html/gibney-transcript.html


This new, definitive analysis of exactly how the unredacted files got out, takes apart Daniel Domscheit-Berg's central role in that event, and also blows apart Guardian journalist David Leigh's lies about the matter, explaining how the Guardian's tech department and his book's fact-checkers must have warned him about the chapter title where he reproduces the Cablegate file's encryption key. But Leigh's priority was obviously not to protect State Dept sources, he wanted the book (original title, The Rise and FALL of Wikileaks) to destroy Wikileaks as an rival organisation.

http://rixstep.com/2/20131001,00.shtml

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.