Assange film "Underground" focuses on early years in Australia

Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:39pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - When Australian film director Robert Connolly went looking for some truth about WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, he didn't turn to government documents or leaked emails of the sort that Assange's website is famous for making public.

Instead, he focused on Assange's past as a teenage hacker and young father growing up in suburban Melbourne, Australia, more than a decade before the launch of the website that has made him both famous and notorious.

"The question is, 'What makes the man, what forms the person?'" Connolly said in an interview with Reuters at a Toronto hotel near where the film, entitled "Underground," premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It's an approach that may disappoint those hoping that the first narrative film on Assange would dramatize recent events that have made him one of the world's most controversial figures.

However, the film, which will premiere on Australia's Channel 10 next month and then seek theatrical release abroad, has already received a strong review from Variety, which called it "straightforward and effective" and praised newcomer Alex Williams's lead performance.

Assange burst into the headlines in 2010 with a series of WikiLeaks releases, including video of a U.S. helicopter killing a Reuters photographer and his driver in Baghdad, along with thousands of U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables.

He is currently holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations, and what he fears may be a future attempt by U.S. authorities to charge him over the 2010 leaks.

ON THE RADAR   Continued...

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he appears to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Helgren