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SXSW isn’t just about music; it’s a cultural hub for forward-minded individuals, giving them the chance to converge and share ideas and experiences. Today (moments ago, in fact, depending on when you’re reading this) the Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden spoke via video link from Russia to an SXSW crowd about the increasingly controversial subject of Government surveillance.
Julian Assange and Edward Snowden Have Been Giving Video Link Talks at SXSW
USA Today has a handy transcript of the conversation, edited for your reading pleasure over on their site. In the talk, Snowden talked about his motives for disclosing classified documents, which revealed the extent to which the NSA were had the American people under unprecedented levels of surveillance.
Continue reading: Edward Snowden Talks Surveillance and Disclosure at SXSW
In a packed week of news, Miley Cyrus returned for her second stint on Saturday Night Live and Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity dominated the U.S. box office with a cool $50 million.
Miley's Homecoming: Miley Cyrus made her triumphant return to Saturday Night Live on Sunday and, hey, what do you know, the reviews were actually pretty good. She clearly had plenty of material to work with, though it seems like the Wrecking Ball star did a pretty good job. Check out the reaction here.
Gravity's Pull: Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi thriller Gravity exceeded expectations at the box office during its opening weekend, pulling in a massive $50 million despite modest promotion. Of course, it was the unanimously positive reviews that drove movie fans to the theaters, leaving Gravity as a very credible Oscar contender indeed. Read our roundup here.
When he said it wouldn't be a good film, he was sort of right
Julian Assange has become pretty annoying. There was a period when the WikiLeaks founder was an intriguing guy. People started calling him a rock and roll star. Now, he's holed away in the Ecuadorean embassy, demanding $1 million for interviews, getting visits from Lady Gaga and being mean to Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Official Fifth Estate Poster
It was revealed in a leaked email this week that Julian Assange refused to meet with the British actor while he was preparing to play the whistleblower in The Fifth Estate, describing Bill Condon movie as "toxic" and "distorted," and forebodingly urging Cumberbatch to "reconsider your involvement in this enterprise."
The intriguing email depicts Assange's attempt to stop the Fifth Estate from being made.
Full of ominous phrases, like “You should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise,” Julian Assange’s email to Benedict Cumberbatch has been released, showing the extent to which the WikiLeaks founder attempted to halt production of the movie, The Fifth Estate.
Benedict Cumberbatch protrays Julian Assange in 'The Fifth Estate'
Entitled, ‘Message from Assange,’ which has a certain terrifying quality to it, Assange goes on to compliment Cumberbatch, saying he thinks the actor is a good man, and that he would like to meet him one day. But the thrust of the message is aimed at derailing the movie based on him, his website and his rivalry with Daniel Domscheit-Berg, played by Daniel Bruhl. “But I must speak directly,” Assange continued. The email has been quoted by many sources, including The Wrap, who published it in full.
The film is getting mixed reviews so far, but Cumberbatch believes it's a faithful interpretation.
Benedict Cumberbatch has a lot of respect for Julian Assange and believes his portrayal of the WikiLeaks founder in the upcoming film The Fifth Estate to be a celebration of Assange’s work. Even so, Assange himself has distanced himself from the film and Cumberbatch and co. haven’t had any access to the him during their work on The Fifth Estate.
Cumberbatch defines his performance as "a celebration" of Assange's work.
Assange, who lost the Australian senate race this week, has previously rejected the film and Cumberbatch rightly assumes that he would not like his own portrayal in The Fifth Estate. The film opened this week at Toronto Film Festival, with Cumberbatch commenting for Reuters after the premiere: "I am not a betting man, but I imagine he won't particularly want to support the film."
The Sherlock star had something to say... or write.
He’s had enough, but instead of threatening to beat them up, like certain stars do (ahem, Justin Bieber and Kanye West), Benedict Cumberbatch sent out his own style of message to the photographers desperately trying to get a snap of the Sherlock star.
Cumberbatch's Assange in The Fifth Estate
"Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important," he said via a piece of paper covering his face. It didn’t stop there, the star had a flurry of politically fuelled messages. Not a bad way to get your point across, considering the photographers are there specifically to take your photo.
Continue reading: "Go Photograph Egypt" - Benedict Cumberbatch To The Paps
Assange has expressed issues with both films
Cinematic adaptations of the WikiLeaks story were only a matter of time, but for those deeply intrigued by the events that surrounded the website and its whistleblowing founder, to have two in close proximity gives a great opportunity to gain insight. Julian Assange, as you’d imagine, has taken issue with both.
A still from The Fifth Estate, directed by Bill Condon
The Fifth Estate is a dramatized version of events, documenting the tumultuous journey of not only the website, but the relationship between Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg – the man whose book the film is based on. We Steal Secrets is a fact-based documentary, directed by the notorious film maler Alex Gibeny, whose previous work includes Enron, the hard-hitting movie that took white collar criminals to task.
The controversial website has a controversial movie to match.
The Fifth Estate – the WikiLeaks movie already denounced by Julian Assange himself – has its first trailer, in which we see Benedict Cumberbatch star as the founder of the controversial website. The film "traces the heady, early days of WikiLeaks, culminating in the release of a series of controversial and history changing information leaks," say the film's studio, DreamWorks, and is out on October 11th in the U.K.
The Fifth Estate tells the story of WikiLeak's historic rise
The film doesn’t just chart the astounding journey taken by Assange and his website, but also the enigmatic Australian’s relationship with Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The pair were friends and colleagues in a doomed union that saw the website’s influence drive a wedge between them. It’s as much a personal story as it is a WikiLeaks story.
It's Friday and the barbecue smoke plumes of the not-so-distant weekend beckon, but if you fancy going to see a film this weekend here's what's just been released.
Friday 12th July has been quite the launchpad for a host of new and exciting films, showcasing the genre spectrum. From action blockbusters to indies, political thrillers to kids animation films, there'll be something to suit all tastes and ages as the summer of film gets hotter.
Well, we'll start off with Trap For Cinderella first because it's the underdog erotic thriller indie with an interesting premise. The Iain Softley film will star young, up-and-coming British actresses Tuppence Middleton and Alexandra Roach as vivacious Micky and shy Do: two girls who are reunited after years apart and reignite a secret passion despite the disapproval they are faced with.
Tuppence Middleton & Alexandra Roach In Trap For Cinderella.
With a subject matter that oddly feels both timely and out-of-date, this documentary is packed with telling details about WikiLeaks, Although it gets muddy as it delves into the lives of founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Bradley Manning. Prolific Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (see Taxi to the Dark Side or Maxima Mea Culpa) deploys his usual skill to assemble a lucid, entertaining film, but the dirt-digging approach leaves us with more questions than answers.
The roots of WikiLeaks go back to the pre-internet days in 1989, when Melbourne student Assange participated with a group of hackers to break into Nasa's space shuttle launch system with a message from Australian band Midnight Oil: "You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war". Nearly 20 years later he established WikiLeaks in the response the growing mountain of secrets being held by Western governments following 9/11. The idea is simple: WikiLeaks allows people to post images and documents anonymously in a way that can never be taken down. And it's essentially run by one man with a battered laptop and lots of friends.
The film features a wide array of interviews with people who have worked with Assange or know his work, plus extensive footage of the man himself. The most telling description of him is as a "humanitarian anarchist" who speaks out against what he sees as "not democracy but encroaching privatised censorship". And the main focus here is on his interaction with Manning, a military computer nerd who was picked on for being gay, stuck in an isolated Iraqi base and shocked by evidence he discovered about the American military's illegal, unethical and immoral activities.
Continue reading: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks Review
Just what exactly happened between Gibney and Assange?
Alex Gibney is one of his generation’s finest documentary makers, and amidst the flurry of WikiLeaks films, documentaries and books that are set to document the very real thriller that is Julian Assange’s life, he was first to cover it – but where is Assange’s interview?
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses a crowd from the Ecuadorian Embassy
We Steal Secrets: the Story of WikiLeaks is not only the first WikiLeaks documentary, but it’s generally considered to be the best, but, as Gibney confirms, Assange’s absence from the film isn’t due to his busy schedule, or constantly seeking asylum in different countries. Rather, it’s a financial dispute. "Here's this tremendously romantic figure travelling the world with a laptop in his knapsack, exposing abuses of power," says Gibney. "That sounds like a pretty good story to me."
Continue reading: How Julian Assange's $1m Request Drove Alex Gibney Away
Controversy surrounds Alex Gibney's new documentary.
It was only a matter of time before the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks got adapted for the big screen. The idea of one man taking on the world’s government with the aid of thousands of anonymous informers seems to capture the zeitgeist of the 21st century so well, that it is perfectly suited for a movie adaptation – or several. Director Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is only the first of several – Laura Poitras, Ken Loach, Craig Ferguson, even Steven Spielberg are all working on documentaries or adaptations of the story, with Spielberg’s The Fifth Estate having just wrapped. Some have the blessing of Assange himself, while others do not.
Alex Gibney did not have Assange's backing.
We Steal Secrets falls in the second category. While Gibney worked in cooperation with Assange initially, the working relationship broke down when the WikiLeaks founder asked for $1 million for his interview. Gibney, however, doesn’t pay his subjects. He explained for the Guardian: "[Assange] then came up with an outrageous idea: 'How about you spy on the other interview subjects and report back to me, because I want to know what they're saying.' I said, 'No. I can't do that for you. I don't work for you.' [Assange] said in a huff, 'I don't work for you, either.'"
Julian Assange's supporters - A small group of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange's supporters hold a street party outside the Ecuadorian Embassy to celebrate his 42nd birthday - London, UK, United Kingdom - Wednesday 3rd July 2013
Alex Gibney's critically acclaimed documentary hits theaters on a limited run.
Acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) has returned with no-holds-bared look at WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website run by enigmatic Australian internet activist Julian Assange. The site's mandate involved publishing top-secret documents and covert information, sending security services into wild panic and making Assange a rock-star of 21st century media.
Assange nor WikiLeaks have been involved with the movie, which directs most of its focus on Bradley Manning, the US Army intelligence analyst who admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of secret military logs to WikiLeaks and who faces possible life imprisonment in a military trial. Late on Thursday (May 23, 2013) - ahead of the movie's limited release in theater - WikiLeaks said We Steal Secrets "portrays Manning's alleged acts as a failure of character rather than a triumph of conscience," and said the film's portrayal of his relationship with Assange was "grossly irresponsible".
Oliver Stone has thrown support behind Julian Assange's cause.
Never far from controversy, Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has conveniently attacked two forthcoming movies about Julian Assange after meeting the Wikileaks founder at the Ecudorian embassy in London last week. Stone tweeted a picture of himself with the political activist during the visit, saying, "A sad occasion in that Julian could not follow me out the door. He lives in a tiny room with great modesty and discipline."
Assange has publically slammed two forthcoming movies set to be released about Wikileaks - Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets and Bill Condon's drama The Fifth Estate - and Stone tweeted of his dismay at the movies also. "Strong mind, no sun, friends who visit, work to be done, one documentary coming out from Alex Gibney that is not expected to be kind. Another film from Dreamworks which is also going to be unfriendly . I don't think most people in the US realise how important Wikileaks is and why Julian's case needs support." It's difficult to believe both movies will be biting hatchet jobs of Assange's character and Wikileaks. Gibney is an Oscar-winning documentarian, while the second is a big-budget Hollywood movie from the director of Twilight. Besides, for all its benefits, Wikileaks and Assange in particular have moral questions to answer. He is also wanted for alleged sexual offenses in Sweden. "Julian Assange did much for free speech and is now being victimised by the abusers of that concept," added Stone.
The Fifth Estate stars Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, alongside a pretty impressive supporting cast that includes Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and Peter Capaldi. It is due for release in the US in November - Oscar bait, in other words. Alex Gibney's documents debuted at Sundance in January and hits theaters in the U.S on May 24, 2013.
Continue reading: Oliver Stone Meets Julian Assange, Then Attacks Wikileaks Movies