Laura's Risky Business

Risk, the most recent documentary from Oscar-winner Laura Poitras, premiered a year ago at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with standing ovations. Immediately the final credits rolled, Laura, Sarah Harrison, and Jake Appelbaum took to the stage to read an official statement and answer questions.

WikiLeaks supporters were seen all around the resort city and in the media, talking about the film and voicing support for the organisation's founder, who to this day remains in the Ecuador embassy in London with his cute kitten, as even now, when the Swedish case against him, which had been ongoing (but going nowhere) for almost seven years, has finally been closed. Britain's threat to arrest Assange for 'jumping bail' to seek asylum still looms, and it's fairly well understood that the goal is to get him 'stateside' or to an infamous Cuban installation.

But Cannes: that was a year ago. After the premiere in May 2016, the film dropped out of sight, with no explanation given. Soon word got out that Poitras was going back to the cutting room.

The re-edit of Risk turned out to be a disaster. A failure at the box office, it's finally moved to Showtime a year later. It may be hard to stop the Hollywood machine once it starts rolling - see the abortive White Helmets campaign as an example - but condemnation of Poitras has been near universal. As attorney Melinda Taylor explained only yesterday:

Yet some people were curious, such as DC resident Kristina Primoff.

I was excited to see the documentary Risk because I thought I would be seeing an accurate portrayal of Assange's life and how WikiLeaks came to be. If you are expecting that, you will be highly disappointed. All through the movie I kept wondering why is this narrator trying to make Assange look bad? That question was answered at the end when Laura Poitras stated she had a falling out with Assange and his friend Jacob (who she also clearly dislikes even though she had a 'brief relationship' as she puts it). I wish I knew this up front and not at the very end.

I assumed I would see how Assange came to be this household name as well as find out information I hadn't seen in the media about WikiLeaks. Instead expect to see things like Assange getting his hair cut while five people stand around making over him. I can only speculate she threw that in to make him look like he's some cult leader. There are other instances as well that I kept thinking to myself 'what what does this have to do with anything?' For example, it is obvious that someone who publishes the things WikiLeaks publishes is going to be somewhat paranoid. However it appears that Ms Poitras went out of her way to make him look overly paranoid and delusional. In one scene he is outside in the wild forest and looks around startled, his attorney then says it's just a bird. There is no juicy info being discussed, it was obvious that she only added this scene to try to make him look crazy.

When I really started to question this movie was in the scene where he is meeting with his legal team regarding his rape allegations. He tries to lighten the mood by making a joke, yet it came off as looking smug. It's safe to say that anyone in that situation would be scared, and many people joke when in fact they are actually nervous. On top of that, this was a private conversation between him and his legal team, he even stated such.

I was quite disappointed with this movie. Instead of seeing a behind the scenes look at WikiLeaks and Assange, this comes off more like a spin to make him look as bad as she possibly could. Everyone knows she most likely had hundreds of hours to use, and why she chose to put these particular scenes in became clear at the end, when she stated she had a falling out with Appelbaum. Highly disappointing. Go to the dentist instead. You'll like that better.

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