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I Feel Lucky

By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2013. First published: 24th August 2013.

I cannot be casual about this film.

In late May I found that my "WE STEAL SECRETS" file had been hacked. Beautifully hacked, old school. At first I panicked and felt my own vulnerability, publishing on the Internet, necessarily connected but the damage was very contained. If I was desperate for an adjective I would say the damage was elegant. And then I worked out the page was irretrievable. You cannot undo this mess.

Please click here to view the hacked page. View source to more fully appreciate the totallness of the sabotage.

Then I found out that “WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS" was being hosted by the Sydney Film Festival. Our SFF Festival Director, Nashen Moodley made some very interesting innovations this year. Not only did he caste the net wider for new members, scooping up five year olds at the Australian Premiere of "MONSTERS UNIVERSITY" and not only did he facilitate the completion of a potential block buster Sebastien Guy's Australian thriller "NERVE" (2013), completed in the nick of time for its

festival Australian premiere. But Moodley took a leap screening Alex Gibney's "WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS" (2013).

I think people who complain about things like this are bursting out as the idea of something to say occurs to them. Film does and should explore every part of us. It's such a powerful medium. You can vote with your feet and not buy the tickets if you disapprove.

There’s been a bit of a vogue of contemporary historical redactions since “WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS" or “THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS”. Production companies take a media figure, like Assange, Steve Jobs or indeed the gatekeepers of Shin Bet and lay out their story. It’s a necessarily biased story but hangs off the media grabs we may or may not have seen over our lifetime.

Alex Gibney has had privileged access to the inner workings of the minds behind the free speech phenomena that was WIKILEAKS. His samples of their story range from personal gender issues and possibly relevant attendant trauma to faithfuly reproduced messaging in real time to heighten our excitement. He has published his film while the issues surrounding Assange rage. Every other week there’s an article

about the guilt or innocence of Manning, the pergatory suffered by Assange in voluntary house arrest in Equador and what we think of his revolutionary actions. I haven’t heard much about the sexual allogations in Sweeden however, “THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS” has a story about what happened. Faceless women are interviewed and condoms are photographed and displayed. Apparently, all that’s happened is he has scared a couple of women very badly. “THE STORY OF… ” makes him look a bit silly, callous in fact. It’s important Julien, Get some bloody results and send them.

Gibney makes the sex allegations look manipulated by Assange, for political traction. But then that’s the genius of this documentary. You have an opinion about it.

Assange may very well be a political leveller who shows the role of bullying state tactics as the cause of war and strife by giving the world media access to several landslides of official documentation. He may also have caused the murder and torture of thousands of people or perhaps that’s what has to happen on the way out of these messes. Don’t shot the messenger.

Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2013.

Release Date 4th July 2013
Category Documentary
Running Time
Rating M War footage and coarse language
Origin USA
Awards There will be plenty.
Director Alex Gibney
Producers Alexis Bloom and Marc Shmuger
Stars Julian Assange & Pfc. Bradley Manning


Official Blurb "Filmed with the startling immediacy of unfolding history Academy Award®-winning director Alex Gibney’s "WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS" details the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history. Hailed by some as a free-speech hero and others as a traitor and
terrorist, the enigmatic Assange’s rise and fall are paralleled with that of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the brilliant, troubled young soldier who downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from classified U.S. military and diplomatic servers, revealing the behind-the-scenes workings of the government’s international diplomacy and military strategy.

In seeking to expose abuse in the corridors of power, Assange and Manning were undermined by forces within and without, as well as by their own human failings. "WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS" is a riveting, multi-layered tale about transparency in the information age and our ever-elusive search for the truth.

A Focus World presentation of a Jigsaw/Global Produce Production. An Alex Gibney Film. "WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS". Supervising Producer, Sam Black. Executive Producers, Blair Foster, Jemima Khan. Original Music by Will Bates. Editor, Andy Grieve. Director of Photography, Maryse Alberti. Produced by Marc Shmuger. Produced by Alex Gibney, Alexis Bloom. Written and Directed by Alex Gibney." - UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALASIA (NBC Universal) PR


I was attracted to the WikiLeaks tale because it was the classic David and Goliath story: one man, armed only with a computer, against the world. By creating a transparency machine, Julian Assange was going to hold governments and corporations to account.

That is certainly part of the story.

But along the way, I discovered things about the story that the many news accounts had missed.

It turns out that the story was not about a machine; it was about human beings. It was about truth and lies – how hard it is to tell the truth and how easy it is to tell lies. I discovered that the film is about how vulnerable we all are. And the story turned out not to be just about Julian Assange. It was also about Bradley Manning, the forgotten PFC who was the source of all the documents that WikiLeaks is famous for. What I discovered was that this story had been too politicized, with pundits from the left and right creating poster-board political caricatures when the messy relationships and mixed motives reflected something more fundamental and powerful about modern life in the age of the computer. What is

secret? What is public? Who do we become when we face the keyboard and the LED screen?

And as a filmmaker, I discovered something very interesting: I could see and show a character purely through the letters he typed into a computer. That’s how we communicate now – we seem to prefer it. But what does that mean?

The internet is a glorious organism, a vast piece of connective tissue that binds us all together. It’s surprisingly intimate and has become a vehicle for personal conversations that are, in some strange way, sometimes more revealing than phone calls or in-person conversations. This is the internet that allowed Bradley Manning to bare his soul to Adrian Lamo. Yet, the internet is also a place where people imagine that they don’t have to be held to account in the same way that we are when we talk face to face. Cyberspace can be a maelstrom of cruelty, as swirling anonymous voices – hiding behind pseudonyms and unrestrained by a public profile – insult, attack and spread malicious lies about those with whom they disagree. This is the internet in which supporters of Assange post pictures of the Swedish women with bullseyes on their faces, as if to say, like weekend hunters, it’s “open season.” It’s about an

organization – WikiLeaks – whose great virtue is that it can’t be held to account by governments or corporations. And yet that is also its greatest flaw.

It’s about the enormous power of governments – particularly the US government – to hide crimes and corruption behind a vast expansion of official secrets. It’s about the way the US government spies on us all – in part to protect us from enemies – but also inevitably to discover our secrets and to use them against us.

We Steal Secrets is a phrase from an honest admission from Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA. The US government is in the business of stealing secrets from other countries. Yet when Bradley Manning leaks secrets from his own country – also, in his mind to keep us safe – he faces brutal consequences and the possibility that his own government will use its power to put him to death for doing the very thing to which Michael Hayden so candidly admits. It’s about the simultaneous power of private citizens to use the internet to leak government secrets. By so doing, we see behind the curtain of public displays of political drama to reveal the deeply human actors, who, like the rest of us, are a mix of nobility and corruption, yearning and vulnerability. It’s

about the peculiar nature of whistleblowers, alienated tormented souls whose great value is that they don’t go along. But it’s also their curse. They need affection; they need recognition; they need support. The story of WikiLeaks is supposed to be about a new transparency machine that allows anonymous leaks to find publishers. But it turns out that the relationship between source and publisher is more deeply human than that.

It’s about corruption. Government corruption and personal corruption. What happens when the idealist achieves fame beyond his wildest dreams? Do immoral means justify noble ends? And, in the midst of a messy human story and a taught psychological thriller, We Steal Secrets illuminates the essential contradictions of cyberspace, a place that is altering the very fundamentals of who we are. The Internet is a place of nobility and high ideals where hackers and novices alike swim in a vast Gulf Stream of information whose currents flow inexorably toward freedom. At the same time, the internet has also become, for governments a spying machine. Today, every day, the US government trawls the Internet for emails, phone calls and texts from private citizens at the rate of 60,000 per-second. At its heart, what appeals to me about We Steal Secrets is that it is a

story that can only be understood in the telling. And what I learned from the film is a way of addressing the moral questions and mysteries of modern life that we engage every time we turn on the computer." - from Alex Gibney.

Interminable waiting.
© 2013 Focus Features, LLC.
Assange starts wearing a bullet proof vest when he is labelled a terrorist.
Street Cred Status
Transparency is paramount.