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Risk (2016)

TV-MA | | Documentary | 12 May 2017 (USA)
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The story of WikiLeak's editor-in-chief Julian Assange as seen by documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.

Director:

Laura Poitras

Writer:

Laura Poitras (narration)
4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Julian Assange ... Himself
Sarah Harrison ... Herself
Jacob Appelbaum ... Himself
Joseph Farrell Joseph Farrell ... Himself
Renata Avila ... Herself - Lawyer
Jennifer Robinson ... Herself - Lawyer
Erinn Clark Erinn Clark ... Herself - Tor Project developer
Laura Poitras ... Herself (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ana Alban Ana Alban ... Herself - Ecuadorian ambassador
Christine Assange Christine Assange ... Herself - Julian's mother
Louis Bladel ... Himself - FBI counterintelligence (as Special Agent Louis Bladel)
Hillary Clinton ... Herself (archive footage)
Amal Clooney ... Herself - Lawyer
James Comey ... Himself (archive footage)
Anderson Cooper ... Himself (archive sound)
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Storyline

Filmed over six years, Risk (2016) is a character study that collides with a high stakes election year and its controversial aftermath. Cornered in a tiny building for half a decade, Julian Assange is undeterred even as the legal jeopardy he faces threatens to undermine the organization he leads and fracture the movement he inspired. Capturing this story, director Laura Poitras finds herself caught between the motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle. Written by Real Art Ways

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English | Arabic | Spanish | German

Release Date:

12 May 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Asylum See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$76,327, 5 May 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$197,621, 16 June 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The WikiLeaks lawyers Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Deborah Hrbek, Renata Avila and Melinda Taylor published an 'opinion piece' in Newsweek on May 17, 2017; WikiLeaks announced on the same day on Twitter that they may sue Laura Poitras: "We are lawyers for WikiLeaks. We are speaking out because we believe that Laura Poitras's film Risk (2016), released in U.S. theaters on May 5 this year, places our clients in legal jeopardy. (...) Our first issue with "Risk" is that the film was edited in New York, where the raw footage can more easily be seized by the U.S. government. By moving the editing location from Berlin to the U.S., Poitras has endangered our clients and reneged on written agreements with WikiLeaks that explicitly forbid her from editing the footage in the United States. (...) Poitras has also violated her unambiguous promise to the subjects of the film that they would have an opportunity to review the film in advance and request changes, and that they could decline to appear if they or their lawyers felt that the movie put them at risk. Had the filmmaker not agreed to these express conditions, WikiLeaks' staff would not have allowed themselves to be filmed in the first place. Despite repeated requests, neither the subjects of the film nor their attorneys were granted a prior viewing of the film that Poitras intended to release in the U.S.. When, along with the general public, we were finally able to view "Risk", we were dismayed to discover that the film released in theaters is a different version, not only from that which premiered at Cannes the year before, but also from the version screened for Julian Assange and his UK counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The film viewed in the Embassy just one month prior to its U.S. release was shorn of all narration and omitted numerous new scenes, significantly changing its tenor. That the 'real' film contained these elements was concealed, preventing Assange from exercising his contractual rights. Prior to its initial U.S. release, seven of the participants submitted non-consent forms to the producers advising Poitras and her team that they did not want to appear in the film. Regardless, Poitras went ahead and released it. (...) To convince the audience of her point about the prevalence of sexism, Poitras has marginalized and demeaned a number of women who work for WikiLeaks, choosing instead to give men most of the airtime and leaving scenes depicting the significant contributions of the women WikiLeaks journalists on the cutting room floor. In their place, we now see an intense focus on women taking instructions and throwing off adoring looks. Sarah Harrison, for example, a brilliant journalist and winner of the Willy Brandt prize for "exceptional political courage," who at considerable personal risk helped Edward Snowden obtain political asylum, and who was accurately portrayed as having a central role in WikiLeaks work in the Cannes version, is now depicted as little more than a minion. Exactly what caused this pivot is not entirely clear. (...) The reason for the shift seems to be contained in the newly added voiceover, in which Poitras divulges that she was involved in an intimate relationship with one of the film's primary subjects, award-winning journalist Jacob Appelbaum. Appelbaum appears prominently in Poitras' Citizenfour (2014) as well as in "Risk". Although he does not work for WikiLeaks, Poitras conflates WikiLeaks with the organization he did work for, Tor, and makes him a central focus of the current version of "Risk". The Cannes premiere of "Risk" portrayed Appelbaum in a flattering light and Poitras did not disclose the nature of their relationship at that time. (...) Poitras was criticized after Cannes for appearing to be overly sympathetic to WikiLeaks. Instead of providing us with a more objective portrayal of her subject matter, she has re-framed her story to turn "Risk" into a film by Laura Poitras about Laura Poitras; a rather late coming-of-age story about the filmmaker discovering that there is sexism in her social and professional circles. Instead of a documentary about the abuse of state power and WikiLeaks' important role in exposing it, the emphasis of the film is now to highlight hotly disputed claims about an ex-boyfriend. We have to ask: Why choose this moment in history, when First Amendment and other fundamental rights are under attack, to undermine the credibility of an organization dedicated to government transparency and freedom of the press? (...) "Risk" might win attention for Poitras by pandering to tabloid narratives about its subjects, but it has done a great disservice to her fellow documentarians, and has profoundly betrayed her friends, her colleagues and her journalistic integrity." See more »

Quotes

Julian Assange: Every day you live your life, you lose another day. You don't have that many. So if you're not fighting for things you care about, then... you are losing.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Breakfast: Episode dated 2 July 2017 (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
93 min. of footage from 6 years of filming leaves us wanting more
11 August 2017 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

"Risk" (2017 re-release; 93 min.) is a documentary about Julian Assange by critically acclaimed (and Oscar-winning) writer-producer-director Laura Poitras. With basically unfettered access to Assange and his entourage, Poitras initially thought she's be making a documentary that focused heavily on the Wikileaks (and certainly there is some of that), but by an unexpected turn of events (two women in Sweden alleging assault and/or rape by Assange), everything changes... To tell you more of how it plays out would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: the stellar track record of Laura Poitras speaks for itself. She knows how to make a compelling documentary. This movie is a logical follow-up for her Oscar-winning "CitizenFour". That said, it is impossible to discuss "Risk" without providing the full context as to its life. "Risk" originally premiered at the 2016 Canned Film Festival (yes, over a year ago) to much controversy, upon which Poitras withdrew the movie and reworked it, and of course in the meantime events kept happening. After a year's worth of tinkering, the movie was recently re-released on SHO. I haven't see the 2016 version so I cannot really comment how the two versions compare, but I've read the 2016 movie was significantly different (and far less critical of Assange). The movie now concludes with Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey (in May, a mere 3 months ago). Keeping in mind that the movie was filmed over a 6 year period, I wish it'd run longer than just 93 min. Yes, we get all of 93 min. from 6 years of filming. So much is happening in the movie and so fast, it's hard to keep up at times. But it never stops being compelling viewing (check the surprisingly cramped living quarters at the Embassy of Ecuador in London).

Last but certainly not least, I've read some of the so-called "reviews" posted here by Wikileaks fans, trashing "Risk" for the mere fact that they feel it is too critical of Assange. These people are delusional. Not to mention that what they posted is not a movie review but simply putting forth a political position, disregarding any and all artistic merits that the documentary has AS A MOVIE (even with shortcomings and all). I am neither "for" or "against" Assange or Wikileaks. I am a movie buff who loves well-made and compelling documentaries, even if they have shortcomings. "Risk" qualifies on all these points. I encourage you to check it out if you have the chance, and draw your own conclusion.


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