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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."