By Liz Lopez
Academy Award-winning director Laura Poitras (‘Citizenfour’) has had incredible access to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who has been under political asylum at London’s Ecuadorian embassy for several years. The documentary she directed and produced, “Risk”, arrives in United States theaters after the 2016 Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight). Filmed over six years, Assange granted her permission to the center of the operations with additional access to team members Sarah Harrison, (lawyer and occasional companion) and Jacob Appelbaum (WikiLeaks technology expert). This feature documentary seems to be focused more on the man vs. actions. For those viewers who are supportive of Assange and his efforts, it may be possible that what is viewed in the feature documentary may be considered “old news”, but yet, informative. For other viewers who are not following Assange’s story and plight will be brought up to speed with events that have happened since he has been out of sight for the last few years.
Poitras has captured something very telling about the man hiding out in a very public place. For viewers who may develop some compassion for what he is going through as they view the film, they may take pause after learning about the rape charges in Sweden. There can be all types of allegations for a person in his situation, but certainly when Assange’s arrogance and attitude about it comes through in this footage, he tarnishes his own image, one that he seems to have helped create.
One very effective and exciting scene is the one with Appelbaum participating as a panelist in Egypt. Many who follow WikiLeaks activities may be well informed of this event, but for those not as informed about the organization, this example of their work reveals how bold the technology expert behaved with the tech companies.
Lady Gaga fan or not, how on earth did she gain access and what year was this (for those of us who are out of the loop)? She visits him in the Ecuadorian embassy, and attempts to “act” as a journalist. If you do not think the film may be of interest to you in other ways, the Lady Gaga scenes just might make it worth the matinee price of admission.
Crew – Camera (color), Kirsten Johnson; editor, Melody London, Laura Poitras; music Jeremy Flower; music supervisor, Barry Cole.
(English, Arabic dialogue) Running time is 84 minutes and opens May 5th in theaters.
Source: Neon, Submarine, Praxis Films, Showtime