Director Laura Poitras
Editor Melody London, Laura Poitras
Sound Jeremy Flower
With Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison, Jacob Appelbaum, Renata Avila, Joseph Farrell, Jennifer Robinson
Cinematography Kirsten Johnson
Julian Assange loathes Risk. Or he loathes, at least, what Risk has become. When it premiered at Cannes in 2016, Laura Poitras’ film presented a mostly admiring portrait of the WikiLeaks founder. It has since been updated, and updated again. WikiLeaks’ role in the US presidential election is part of that, but Poitras’ revisions are more profoundly spurred by deepening suspicion about Assange’s character, particularly his response to sexual assault allegations.
Seven years in the making, Risk is a thematic sibling to Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden feature that won Poitras the 2015 Best Documentary Oscar. The access is extraordinary. We see Assange marshalling his cohorts like an intelligence agency. Calling the State Department, demanding to speak to Hillary Clinton. Taking on an elaborate disguise for the dash to the Ecuadorian embassy.
Spellbinding and at times disquieting, Risk explores the moral and ethical debate sparked by WikiLeaks. But at its core it is a study of a man whose brilliance risks becoming subsumed by narcissism, with a startling attitude to those who challenge him – and a filmmaker unwilling to remain a bystander. — Toby Manhire