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The Secret-Holders


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It’s a story we think we already know.

Renowned hacker Julian Assange took the world by storm as he tried to bring down the United States government. He exposed corruption and bad military practice, changing the way citizens look at government. The Oscar-winning director of Taxi to the Dark Side, filmmaker Alex Gibney’s documentary, “We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks” peels back the layers of the elusive WikiLeaks founder, Assange, and attempts to make sense of his story.

At a special showing at the University of Colorado, the film attracted a full audience of students and community members. Gibney was present to answer questions and discuss the cyber scandal that changed journalism. His documentary depicts the technical details of WikiLeaks and how it became an anonymous worldwide drop box for restricted information.

The film has not been widely accepted amongst Assange’s followers, since it portrays a less than perfect version of the man of secrets. Assange tweeted about the CU showing beforehand, warning people of the film’s misleading statements and lack of research and criticizing Gibney for being biased. Gibney shows how Assange’s personal life, dirtied with scandal and paranoia, led to his downfall and loss of credibility. He also delves into the background and life of whistleblower Bradley Manning, who contributed thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

The subject matter feels both timely and outdated. While the WikiLeaks scandal has passed, cases of hacking such as the Heartbleed virus and stolen credit card information from Target, as well as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, have recently been in the news. Gibney claims that he sought to make the film to showcase how individuals take on mighty governments and other entities larger than themselves.

“We Steal Secrets” reveals the humble beginnings of WikiLeaks; a handful of members and a small rented house in Iceland. Gibney does a great job of building a suspenseful story as he details the growing support WikiLeaks gained and the backlash from the media and government. Assange, Manning, and Snowden all believe certain government secrets belong in the public domain with free access to all.

WikiLeaks led the way in revealing classified documents that resulted in changing the way people think about sharing news. “We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks” is an engaging documentary that goes beyond the scandal portrayed in the media and delivers insight into the moral dilemmas surrounding free speech.

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