The Report: Wikileaks Dueling Documentaries
European TV outlets race to sell Julian Assange titles. Is Hollywood next?
Worldwide interest in Wiki-Leaks and its controversial founder Julian Assange is spilling into showbiz. London- and Paris-based Zodiak Rights has begun shopping WikiLeaks: War, Lies and Videotape to foreign TV networks, and Swedish broadcaster SVT is doing the same with a competing documentary called WikiRebels.
As its title suggests, War, Lies and Videotape takes a more critical view of Assange, the Australian activist who gained global notoriety for revealing thousands of classified documents, including 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables. The hourlong doc was produced by French news agency Premieres Lignes and was directed by investigative reporters Luc Hermann and Paul Moreira, who interviewed Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s former No. 2. Domscheit-Berg is openly critical of Assange, suggesting the WikiLeaks founder craves the spotlight so much that he will reveal certain documents but exclude others. In recent days, the documentary was updated to include footage of Assange’s arrest on sex-crime allegations.
WikiRebels, directed by SVT’s Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist, explores how WikiLeaks has impacted governments around the world by exposing sensitive documents. The filmmakers also interviewed Domscheit-Berg, who has launched his own whistleblowing site, OpenLeaks, but WikiRebels isn’t as concerned with putting Assange on the spot. It’s more of a biography, both of Assange and the website.
Neither documentary was made with Assange’s cooperation. He recently inked a $1.3 million book deal with New York publisher Alfred A. Knopf for an autobiography. A deal for movie rights to Assange’s story has not been announced.