Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Ithaka

John Assange

When WikiLeaks published a dossier of leaked intelligence, the Iraqi and Afghani war logs, in 2010, it brought founder Julian Assange into direct conflict with authorities across the world. In the years leading up to this these revelations, the Iceland-based organisation had been releasing documents to partners The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel. However, the latest publications triggered a criminal investigation by the US government.

With the prospect of extradition to Sweden and subsequently the USA, Assange claimed asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012. He spent the next seven years there until he was remanded in Belmarsh Prison awaiting an extradition trial, despite the original charges being dropped. His fiancé and legal advisor Stella and his father John run a tireless campaign for his freedom. Ithaka follows a dad determined to help his son.

Filmed over a period of two years, Ithaka is a very intimate insight into this struggle. Ben Lawrence’s film concentrates on the personal. While it’s driven by events, the focus is on John and how his life is impacted by all this. After observing these ‘big’ days from the shadows, we’re then given the opportunity to try and comprehend how he’s feeling. Ithaka tackles a familiar subject from an unusual angle, with interesting results.  

Ithaka screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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