The Academy Award-winning director of CITIZENFOUR turns her camera on WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Risk continues Laura Poitras’ examination of voices who question authority in an era of ever-increasing surveillance and state secrecy. With unparalleled access, the film offers an intimate portrait of the cypherpunk underground: technologists, journalists and lawyers working to expose crimes at the highest levels and help activists worldwide to fight political oppression, in spite of considerable personal risks.
In 2011, WikiLeaks faces new challenges and a major official backlash following a string of sensational disclosures. WikiLeaks’ work is now complicated by aggressive investigations by multiple U.S. security agencies that equate whistleblowing with treason. These are no empty threats, as Chelsea Manning’s trial and eventual conviction make abundantly clear.
At the same time, editor-in-chief Julian Assange is appealing extradition to Sweden for questioning regarding allegations of sexual offences. Assange denies the allegations and no charges have been filed. Assange and his legal team believe that the Swedish case is a ploy with the ultimate goal of having him extradited to the United States, where they believe a sealed indictment under the Espionage Act awaits him.
Still, Assange and the staff continue to work, navigating the release of unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables by a third-party and publishing new leaks of surveillance industry technologies and Syrian government emails
When the U.K. courts deny his appeals against extradition to Sweden, Assange seeks asylum in the embassy of Ecuador in London. British police surround the embassy in a stand-off that remains in force to this day, four years later.
Unfolding in ten chapters, Risk is a behind-the-scene chronicle of events that revolutionized the operating procedure of journalism in its treatment of large datasets of leaked material. It is a group portrait of a generation of technologically capable young people willing to put themselves in danger in the interest of changing the system.
A DOC FOR OUR TIMES: With the controversies of Brexit, the French elections and Trump in the White House, RISK is an even more important story of truth-telling and rebellion.
"A story that demands watching" - Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
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