Addressing an Oxford Union debate via videolink on Wednesday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called DreamWorks’ upcoming Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate a “massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.” Throughout the address, Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since it offered him asylum in August, had what was purported to be a copy of the film’s script — though The Guardian says he never showed it to the camera. He told students the film was “fanning the flames” of war since, he claims, it starts inside a military complex in Iran with the suggestion a nuclear bomb is being built. He then asked, “How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie.” The Fifth Estate started shooting this week with Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as his confidant Daniel Domscheit-Berg and traces the early days of WikiLeaks through to the release of a series of controversial and history-changing information disclosures. The script is written by Josh Singer and based on Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy by Guardian writers David Leigh and Luke Harding.
In a statement earlier this week, Condon said: “It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it’s revolutionized the spread of information. So this film won’t claim any long-view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked.” The movie is set for release in the U.S. via Touchstone on November 15 this year. Participant Media came aboard this week as co-financier with DreamWorks.