In 2006, an Iceland-based outfit called The Sunshine Press launched the website WikiLeaks.org. The site’s mandate involved regularly publishing top-secret documents and covert information, often regarding governments and their respective military operations. By creating a platform that allowed whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, a huge debate ensued between those who admired the organization’s courage and resourcefulness, and those who argued that the dissemination of data regarding such events as the U.S. war in Afghanistan could put untold numbers of lives at risk.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Australian Internet activist, Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate is based on real events and adapted from the book by and told from the point of view of Assange’s friend Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). It follows the journey of Assange and his colleagues as the controversial website and its founder become their own media story and WikiLeaks’ popularity sparks a conflict between the two Internet sleuths.
As you can see from the first trailer that has just been released, the story begins as WikiLeaks founder Assange and Domscheit-Berg team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. However, when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and what has become the defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society—and what are the costs of exposing them?
With a targeted release date of October 11 in the States, look for Downton Abbey-ex, Dan Stevens, playing the role of Ian Katz, former deputy editor of The Guardian and one of the newspapers original contacts with WikiLeaks. Katz left the Guardian this month and has joined the BBC as editor of BBC 2’s Newsnight beginning in September. Also, Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, The Hour) stars as Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger.