There’s no doubt that the whole WikiLeaks scandal and the fallout from their major information releases ever since has been nothing short of fascinating. Well, Hollywood seems to think so anyway, and they’re seeing a whole load of storytelling potential in it, with both dramatic features and documentaries on their way. Among them, there’s the Australian TV movie “Underground: The Julian Assange Story,” which played at TIFF (our review here); Bill Condon’s as-yet-untitled movie that will star Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange; a delayed project at HBO; a possible drama from Mark Boal (“Zero Dark Thirty”) based on a New York Times article; and a documentary titled “We Steal Secrets” all at various stages of development.
The final project in that list, “We Steal Secrets,” is directed by the prolific documentarian Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”) and heavily features the story of Private Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who is set to face trial for the release of confidential military and diplomatic documents. The movie will aim to comprehensively cover Assange’s story from his first flirtations with hacking to his sex case in Sweden, but it is said to be Private Manning’s section that proves the most fascinating.
Gibney was obviously interested enough in Manning’s strand of the story that he has subsequently acquired the rights to the book “Private: Bradley Manning WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.” Gibney, alongside producer Marc Schmuger, hopes to adapt his story into a full dramatic feature of its own. Manning’s story is still ongoing and we’ll undoubtedly hear a lot more about him when he stands trial early next year, but Gibney and Shmuger are actively looking for a screenwriter now who will likely have to form his story as it unfolds for real on the nation’s news channels.
As for “We Steal Secrets,” it’s headed for a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month. It promises to be a full blown look at Assange from earliest days to his current status holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K., but perhaps most intriguingly, according to the New York Times, it’s “not friendly toward those who would see Sweden’s pursuit of Mr. Assange [to face charges of sexual assault] as cover for a supposed American agenda to prosecute or smear him.” Once again, it looks like Gibney is going to give us lots to talk about. Here’s the first look at his film.