Sunday, September 22, 2013 3:59 pm
WikiLeaks leaks 'Fifth Estate' screenplay
By JAKE COYLEAP Entertainment Writer
The whistleblower website posted a memo calling the movie "irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful." The DreamWorks film, which Disney will release Oct. 18, chronicles the birth of WikiLeaks with Benedict Cumberbatch playing site founder Julian Assange.
Assange has previously called "The Fifth Estate" "a massive propaganda attack." In a lengthy, point-by-point posting, WikiLeaks refuted the film's depiction of WikiLeaks, disputing everything from its suggestion that documents the site released put confidential sources in danger, to the idea that Assange dyes his hair.
"Most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them," reads the posting. "It has real names, real places, and looks like it is covering real events, but it is still a dramatic and cinematic work, and it invents or shapes the facts to fit its narrative goals."
The WikiLeaks memo stated that it was judging the film from "a mature" script from late in production, not the finished film.
The screenplay by Josh Singer was partly based on "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website," by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, an early WikiLeaks collaborator who publicly and bitterly fell out with Assange; and "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy," by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding. Assange has been critical of both.
The filmmakers and Cumberbatch reached out to Assange in the making of the film, but were rebuffed.
The film, which premiered earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, portrays Assange as a visionary with democratic ideals for information and altruistic motives for whistleblowers, but also as a lying, reckless revolutionary who ultimately sabotages his own creation by his refusal to consider the lives of revealed sources in published documents.
Representatives with the film didn't immediately comment Sunday on WikiLeaks' criticisms.
In an earlier interview, director Bill Condon told The Associated Press that Assange "has the sense of (the film) being something very different than what it is."
"The idea was to present this incredibly complicated and, as we can see, relevant issue of the struggle in this age between privacy and transparency in all of its complication," said Condon. "And in a similar way, present him in all his complexity."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake-coyle