Laura Poitras canceled Monday and Tuesday press screenings of her long-awaited Julian Assange documentary, “Risk,” after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that the Justice Department views Assange’s arrest as a “priority.” Poitras now plans to update her doc with the new development over the weekend, and have it ready in time for a press screening Wednesday night in New York.
Earlier this week, Tim League and Tom Quinn’s distribution company Neon announced a May 5 theatrical release date for “Risk,” which will hit Showtime this summer. The film will also play on May 2 as a Special Closing Night selection for Art of the Real, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual showcase of essential, boundary-pushing documentaries.
The founder of WikiLeaks, Assange has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy for six years, having sought asylum following a rape accusation by a woman in Sweden. Sessions’ remarks on Thursday that U.S. authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of Assange mark a reversal in policy from that of previous Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks is not the only organization to have published stolen documents.
“We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious,” Sessions said during a press conference Thursday. “So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”
Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said in a statement to CNN, “We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange. They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange’s status is in any pending investigations.”
Shot over a six-year period, this is not the first time “Risk” has had to be re-edited. The film screened as a part of the 2016 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight section before Poitras went back to the editing room. “Risk” is produced in association with Field of Vision and First Look Media.