Cannes got headlines this morning. As Laura Poitras unveiled her Julian Assange doc called “Risk.” Featured is Lady Gaga interviewing Assange with a small camera for personal use. Big revelation: that Wikileaks warned Apple that iTunes could be used as a backdoor for spies to infiltrate computers and phones. Also that Assange staff includes a junior Snowden name Jacob Appelbaum of California who has self exiled.
Poitras, as with “CitizenFour,” her film about Edward Snowden, continues to be a cutting edge political filmmaker with unusual access. In “Risk” we see the backstage of Wikileaks and it’s fascinating. Assange has a staff of committed followers who are devoted to him including Sarah Harrison, who may also be his girlfriend. She’s entranced by him. They all are. He is very much his own cult leader.
“Risk” has many other revelations including footage of Assange’s escape in disguise from British Court to the Ecuador embassy in London. He was aided by his mother, who helped turn him into a dark haired biker.
“Risk” is a short film– under 90 minutes– but it’s the prequel to “Citizen Four,” as the Snowden story starts to unfold while Poitras is busy filming Assange. The two films together cannot be underestimated as important documents of how all the whistleblowing and hacking unraveled governments. What surprises me is the zealousness of everyone involved– they don’t seem to understand fully what will — and what did– happen to them as a consequence of their actions.
More to come shortly on Poitras, who is a remarkable filmmaker, and this cast of characters…