Tag: WikiLeaks

Enemies of the State

August 8th, 2021 — 8:52pm


This is an unusual documentary film, which not only recounted the story from actual film clips but was interspersed with some reenactments based on actual events. The main character is a young man by the name of Matt DeHart who is a known hacker with ties to WikiLeaks, which is an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks and classified documents provided by anonymous sources. The question that is raised is whether this young man is antagonizing the US government by publishing secret documents and is the US government spreading false information that Mr. DeHart is involved in child pornography? We meet this young man and his family who support him and believe he is being set up by the government. The viewer is torn between these two possibilities as we ponder what is the truth. Sonia Kennebeck is the director and producer and has masterfully weaved this story together. We have our own opinion who is telling the truth and as realistic as the film may have been, we did not think it was worth the hour and 45 minutes.

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Drama

The Fifth Estate

October 11th, 2013 — 8:10am


The Fifth Estate- sp. If the “4th Estate” is a term that refers to people who organize and report the news what is the “5th Estate” ? It is basically the subject of this movie which is the story of Julian Assange (Benedtict Cumberbatch) and his assistant Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl) who ran WikiLeaks, the controversial website which is know for reporting secret  private government documents. On the day we previewed this movie the real Julian Assange who is living in the Ecuador  Embassy in London because of legal charges against him for being with underage girls, released a letter that he had written to the actor who plays him in this movie. In it he denounced the film and said it is based on “the two most discredited books on the market.” He also stated that he felt the  film intended to depict him and his work in a negative light. At our screening we met screenwriter Josh Singer, who has a law degree from Harvard and a MBA  as well has having been a writer for the TV show West Wing for three years. He contended that he researched the topic very thoroughly and spent time with many of the subjects in the movie although he never met Assange. WikiLeaks was originated by Assange as a website in which anyone could report evidence of wrong doing and be assured anonymity as well as having their report published on the website without editing. The small team of Assange, Berg and a few others would check out the sources before they would put it up for the world to see. They attracted whistleblowers from around the world and broke some major scandals. Everything came to head when US Army Private Manning leaked thousands of top secret documents about the US war in Afganistan which were to be jointly published by WikiLeaks, The NY Times, The London Guardian and Das Spiegel (a leading German newspaper). These documents were to include information about informants who were  living in war zones whose lives could therefore be in great danger. The question with which the film struggles is whether Assange is a very creative idealist devoted to uncensored free speech who has developed a new form of journalistic expression or if he is a personally flawed individual who is insensitive to the implications of the tool which he has developed and the manner in which he tries to use it. Or perhaps he is a combination of these two characterizations. The direction by Bill Condon is fast moving and quite creative as exemplified by showing the online chat room where the main characters communicate while they are traveling all over the world as an actual large interesting physical space. We must admit that we both found several of the scenes confusing as we were not exactly sure where they were taking place and why the characters were there. However, the story line did carry us along and the conflicts which unfolded did challenge and inform us. This adds up to a very worthwhile movie. (2013)  

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

Page One: Inside The New York Times

May 27th, 2011 — 6:33am


Page One: Inside The New York Times sp – The news media has been undergoing a radical change in the last few years. The new media and the blogosphere is rapidly competing as a source of breaking news. Advertising revenue has fallen as much as 30 % in the past year for many of the leading newspapers. Many newspapers throughout the country have closed. It is rare to have two major newspapers even in a  large city, let alone three of them. Filmmaker Andrew Rossi persuaded the venerable New York Times to let him spend close to a year to be essentially embedded, mostly in their New York headquarters, in order to make a documentary showing how they are carrying on their proud tradition in the face of all these changes. While he worked closely with his wife filmmaker Kate Novack, and a team of editors, it was Rossi alone who roamed the multileveled headquarters with his trusty camera on his shoulder. He was there when the WikiLeaks story broke and he was able to capture how the New York Times writers and editorial staff struggled with the ethics and ultimate decision to print the leaks  and how they became part of the story. He was filming at the staff meetings when the writers and editors were trying to figure out if the war in Iraq was coming to an end because NBC was breaking a story about departing troops but it wasn’t part of the US government announcements. The central character in the much of this documentary is NY Times writer David Carr who himself has a very colorful history, once being addicted to cocaine and now being a senior well respected, witty, crusty, very capable  reporter  who mostly covers media issues. The film shows us how he approached the big time story of the collapse of the well known Tribune media giant, its subsequent buyout by some non newspaper people who bled the organization, dismantled their ethical base and were running a corrupt unethical management team themselves. They ultimately resigned demonstrating the power and value of the New York Times, functioning at its best as it used all its resources to report this story. In the end we are quite enlightened about the changes in how we get our news and the choices we have. We are also quite impressed as we see the coming together in a working alliance of young new media people within the powerful “legacy” news organizations symbolized by the New York Times. Working side by side or cubicle to cubicle this new generation of Times men and women seem to be able to provide the leadership and a viable co-existence with the huge blogsphere that continues to grow. It is clear that everything will be different with each year or two and the concluding lines of the story have not yet been written, This documentary does capture this fascinating piece of evolving journalism in a verite style. It is somewhat choppy without a clear plot, which reflects the nature of the content. You may walk away from this film and say , “I sort of knew all this”  but for certain you will not take David Carr and his colleagues for granted any more. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

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