Outing truths

OUT NOW! The gripping documentary WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS explores truth as not a simple, unambiguous thing.

Truth will out. Telling the story behind the many stories, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney turns up the brightness dial on the webpage and its notorious founder. Wikileaks’ media presence is a given, but Gibney also supplies insights into its enormous impact on the lives of those who provided – and published – the secrets.

That this is a pleasure to watch is down to two things. For starters, the film is very well made, skilfully combining interviews, photos, music, and off-camera commentary into a gripping documentary that explains without lecturing. Secondly, the film focuses on people rather than the events that were set into motion when Wikileaks published classified information.

It is fascinating to watch Assange, who apparently has only one facial expression, become more of a secret himself the more we are told about him. Is he a whistle-blower, a freedom fighter, a rapist, a victim? All – or none – of these?

Wikileaks’ biggest source, Bradley Manning, is another intriguing story. While the film doesn’t answer many questions, it does provide the kind of information that Wikileaks itself deals in, not the least of which is the barest of truths: the truth might out but it’s certainly not a simple, unambiguous thing.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks | Directed by Alex Gibney (USA 2013) with Julian Assange, Bradley Manning. Starts July 11

Originally published in issue #118, July/August 2013.