Risk (2016 film)
|Directed by||Laura Poitras|
|Written by||Laura Poitras|
|Music by||Jeremy Flower|
Risk is a 2016 American documentary film written and directed by Laura Poitras about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. On April 9, 2017, Showtime released a trailer for the film, executive produced by Sam Esmail and set to be released in the "summer".
The film's original premise was to address the life of Julian Assange, documenting scenes showing "motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle", focusing on the risks taken by persons involved in the well-known Wikileaks website, including Assange. The documentary begins in 2010, addressing the judicial measures he came to face on the part of the Swedish authorities, which sought his extradition from the U.K. in 2012. Assange alleges that any such Swedish extradition would have culminated in an eventual extradition to the United States. The opening scene shows Assange (with Wikileaks staffer Sarah Harrison) calling the U.S. State Department, asking them to step-up security procedures. This segues into a presentation of Assange's angst about the fate of Chelsea Manning and Assange's plans to avoid U.S. capture. The film then presents documentation of Assange's asylum claim, and the disguising of himself to sneak into the Embassy of Ecuador in London for refuge.
Originally titled "Asylum", the film becomes a journey into Poitras's disillusionment with Assange. In the re-cut of the film, she altered the film's focus on the experience of risk-taking media work (Assange's as well as her own), towards a critique of Assange as a flawed character, including his alleged sexual assaults and "troubling" statements about women.
In mid-2016, directly after the Cannes screening, Assange friend and Wikileaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum was publicly accused of abusing women while working with Wikileaks and serving as a computer security activist at Tor. At one point in the film Poitras states in a voice-over her personal disappointment with Appelbaum, and her anger at Appelbaum's alleged abuse of one of her friends. In interviews, she stated that Julian Assange frantically attempted to get her to remove scenes in which he refers to the sexual assault allegations against him as a "radical feminist conspiracy" by lesbians, and that his lawyers contacted her directly before Cannes. Poitras said that Assange sent her an SMS message calling the scenes a "threat to his freedom". According to Poitras, this was what led her to refocus on the same accusations, to add the Appelbaum story to the film, and to change the overall message of the film.
The film touches briefly on the role played by Wikileaks in the 2016 U.S. election.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes collected 94 reviews with an average rating of 7/10 As of July 18, 2018[update], of which 82% were positive. The website's critical consensus states: "Risk poses knotty questions regarding documentary filmmaking ethics, but remains consistently compelling despite its flaws." Metacritic gave the film a score of 72 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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- "Risk". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
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- Tartaglione, Nancy (April 19, 2016). "Cannes: Directors' Fortnight 2016 Lineup – Laura Poitras' 'Risk', Pablo Larrain's 'Neruda', Paul Schrader's 'Dog Eat Dog'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- Rutenberg, Jim (April 9, 2017). "WikiLeaks Documentary Evolves With Its Subject, Year After Premiere". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Holloway, Daniel (April 9, 2017). "Showtime to Release WikiLeaks Documentary 'Risk' by Laura Poitras". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- "Risk (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Burr, Ty (May 11, 2017). ""Risk"—the Julian Assange doc—is a dance with the devil". The Boston Globe. Boston Globe Media Partners. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Halpern, Sue (July 13, 2017). "The Nihilism of Julian Assange". The New York Review of Books. NYREV. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- McNary, Dave (September 9, 2015). "'Citizenfour' Director Laura Poitras Launching Documentary Unit (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Groll, Elias (May 5, 2017). "Julian Assange Is Not Ready for His Close Up". Foreign Policy. The Slate Group. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- Lang, Brent (May 3, 2017). "'Risk' Director Laura Poitras on Her Explosive Julian Assange Documentary". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- Barnes, Henry (May 20, 2016). "Laura Poitras on her new Julian Assange film: 'Few people could stand the pressure he is under'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Rose, Steve (June 8, 2017). "Two sides to every story: Whitney, Tupac, Assange and the trouble with making biopics". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Zeitchik, Steven (May 6, 2017). "With Laura Poitras' re-cut 'Risk,' a director controversially changes her mind about Julian Assange". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- Greenberg, Andy (June 6, 2016). "Tor Developer Jacob Appelbaum Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Claims". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Hattenstone, Simon (June 29, 2017). "Laura Poitras on her WikiLeaks film Risk: 'I knew Julian Assange was going to be furious'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- "Risk Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- Rosenberg, Alyssa (May 8, 2017). "I saw Laura Poitras's Julian Assange movie 10 days ago. I'm still struggling with it". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2017.