We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks
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I went to WikiLeaks.org and found they had posted an annotated transcript of the movie. To my disappointment, the annotations pointed out "The film is filled with factual errors and speculation..." and provided links to all the sources to the contrary facts.
WikiLeaks also states "Neither Julian Assange nor anyone associated with WikiLeaks agreed to participate in this film. Any footage of Assange or WikiLeaks' staff was taken from stock footage. WikiLeaks has, however, co-operated with a film by respected Academy Award-nominated film- maker Laura Poitras, which will be out later this year. Another film, co-produced with Ken Loach's 16 Films, will be released shortly".
After reading the annotations, I felt the film makers had created a "reality TV" style of movie in which they influenced much of the story to their own needs, rather than the truth. You can see the irony in all of this considering the themes of truth and transparency. You could justifiably argue that WikiLeaks is trying to paint themselves in a better light as compared to how the movie presents them. But, it's hard to argue with all the sources WikiLeaks has provided.
As strange as it sounds, I still recommend the movie. But... watch it with the annotated WikiLeaks version of the script to compare and contrast. I believe the truth lies somewhere in between.
I have no idea why Alex Gibney, obviously a fine director, chose such obviously one-sided sources. We mostly hear from outcasts like Daniel Domscheit-Berg and other "former" WikiLeaks supporters, and too much screentime is given to some extremely questionable stories from the woman Assange allegedly sexually assaulted. Neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange were directly interviewed, which is obviously a huge blow to the film. We Steal Secrets starts out hopeful and mysterious, detailing the huge leaks perpetrated by conflicted soldier Bradley Manning, and the rise of Wikileaks - the triumphant exposures of heinous war crimes, lies, and secrets swept under the rug by various countries and organizations. Wikileaks gave us the truth on the Iraqi War and the War on Terror that no one else would. But the documentary tries to paint it, AND Assange (which I find heavily ironic since We Steal Secrets is against those who targeted Assange in person) as a controlling, paranoid, suspicious bunch of wierdos.
Look, I'm NOT saying to paint Assange as a white knight in shining armor. He's a human being, full of faults and shortcomings, doubts and weaknesses. He's also one of the great visionaries of our time: a controversial and engimatic figure that dared to show us the secrets that our governments wouldn't.Read more ›
To some degree, Alex Gibney's ability to tell a fully fleshed-out story was limited by who he had access to -- not Assange, not Manning and not anyone who has a current relationship with either of them. One can argue that this was the fault of Assange, who chose not to participate in this film for whatever reason (he tells a different story from Gibney, and there's no way to know what really happened there), or one can argue that Gibney rushed a film that should have taken a more painstaking and journalistic approach, perhaps in order to be first off the blocks.
Which brings me to the bad news side. This really isn't strong journalism. I was surprised to see someone of Gibney's caliber suddenly tossing in a line about a dictator receiving secret Wikileaks cables that were then used to oppress his people -- WITHOUT providing any more info on something so obviously titillating. Gibney doesn't mention who the dictator is, what country this occurred in, who or what the source of this seemingly explosive story is, or what made these particular cables any different from the thousands of cables the film tells us were freely available to anyone on the Wikileaks website. If there was a story there, it was incumbent upon Gibney to research it thoroughly and give the audience the facts.Read more ›
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Julian Assange is one of my heros. So there is no way I would not like this movie.Published 13 months ago by kjd
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