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
Director Laura Poitras was romantically involved with activist, journalist, computer security researcher and artist Jacob Appelbaum, who at the same time was a subject of her documentary film project about WikiLeaks. She often mentions Appelbaum in her book "Astro Noise" using only the affectionate form 'Jake'. The opening photo in "Astro Noise" shows Poitras stretched out on a daybed in the sunlight and is credited to Appelbaum. See more »
The ability of whistle-blowers to leak sensitive, and even secret, information is an essential check on the potential abuse of power by government. But Julain Assange, founder of Wikileaks, a website established to assist such whistle-blowers, is a deeply problematic figure: an egoist who falls out with his own collaborators with amazing frequency; a man who seemed hardly to take accusations of rape seriously; an instinctive anarchist who sometimes seems to be fighting not government tyranny everywhere, but exclusively in America. This documentary was conceived as a friendly venture (in fact, the film-maker quietly reveals she is not exactly a neutral party in the story), but the essential vanity of Assange is clearly on display. Ultimately, it's hard to avoid concluding that whatever good Wikileaks might have done has been fatally compromised by the man at its core.
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