Absent Assange looms over debut of WikiLeaks drama

September 5, 2013 • Entertainment

Actor Dan Stevens attends the opening night “The Fifth Estate” gala at Roy Thomson Hall during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Toronto. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

TORONTO (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, but he’s very present at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Opening this year’s festival on Thursday was the premiere of Bill Condon’s dramatization of Assange and WikiLeaks, “The Fifth Estate” — a film with which Assange refused to cooperate. It’s the only movie at Toronto that has the distinction of being called “a massive propaganda attack” by its primary subject.

That was the opinion Assange dished out on the film in a video link in January in which he waved a supposed copy of the film’s script. He has also called it the “anti-WikiLeaks movie.”

But the film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Australian activist, is far from the character assassination Assange feared, but rather a layered, complicated portrait of him and his whistleblower website as laudatory as it is critical.

“When we tried to actually make contact — Benedict made the most overt gestures — we were rebuffed,” director Bill Condon Login to read more

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