Thursday, January 31, 2013

Statement: Dreamworking WikiLeaks


I have been approached in the last few years by many great artists/writers/filmmakers who seek to tell the story of WikiLeaks extraordinary impact on the world at its peak in 2010/2011.

I have accepted to be part of many of these releases because I felt my voice in relation to the future of Freedom in Information, Expression and Speech and of course online Privacy needs to be included. I have often felt disappointed by how little focus is given, in the end result, to the important vision and work on behalf of the online tribe that is in constant struggle to ensure our online rights. Instead the projects tend to devolve into revolving about the persons involved, their drama and eccentric behavior. I guess that is what producers believe gets people interested in the story. I personally believe that people crave for a vision and some sort of solution to the threats that projects like WikiLeaks expose. I think people need and crave to understand what drives others to take risks in order to improve our world and set information free, that story is not told through ordinary personal drama.

The reason why I got involved with the Dreamworking WikiLeaks project was simple. I had a chance to bring more balance to it, since it is based on two books that are focused on the personal drama, the divorce of persons but not necessary ideology. There is a reason why I have not written a book about my times with WikiLeaks, for as interesting it is to expose how people behave under extreme circumstances, I find the impact of those circumstances way more important. Everyone seems to be wounded from collaborating together and I think that is unimportant in the long run. What WikiLeaks achieved at its peak was to send a ripple effect through the fabric of history and alter the way we see our world. That happened because of the vision and courage of many people, many whom will never have their face or name attached to the story by their own choice.


I chose to work with Dreamworks, because I believe there is a chance that I could impact its final outcome by offering balance. Thus I have suggested many changes that might or might not be included in relation to how Assange is written into it, for I felt it was heavily focused on eccentric and negative behavior. I was also deeply concerned about the Iran scene and to my great delight I discovered after various discussions with all the main stakeholders involved, that I was not alone about my worries and in the end it was written out. I also felt the name “The Man Who Sold the World” was iffy but I am pleased with the new name of the film, The 5th Estate”. This will be a fictional movie about an incredible time in our history that will hopefully provide an inspiration.

Everyone I have talked with in relation to the making of the film respect the work of WikiLeaks but do of course have a very unbalanced view of how it was since it is based on one perspective. The perspective of those that fell out with Assange. I know that Assange has been given a chance to offer his version of accounts and that is important to me. I hope the end result will be slightly closer to the reality of everyone, not just a few players as written in the version I got to see. In regard to my own person in the film, it is fictionalized in a way that is not at all pleasing to me and does no justice to the work I did while involved with WikiLeaks. But to be perfectly honest, I don't care. What I do care about is the overall message, spirit and story. The story of a project that changed the way we see our world. A project that is still changing the way our history is unfolding and a project that will always be remembered as titling the scales of power in our world in favor of the general public and its right to be informed. 


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good on you for doing such work & ensuring a better movie that millions will watch... Kuddos for your involvement and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Birgitta, you have a lot of energy, drive, vision and an emotional maturity that is absent in the farcical world of Hollywood which is the biggest and most powerful American political propaganda machine of perpetual misrepresentation of truths. In my country the words for 'stand strong' is Kia Kaha, these words are our sacred battle cry. Kia Kaha Birgitta. Standing with you, the Mouse who Roared. xox

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that you are one of my heroes! And I aspire to be as daring and driven like you -a university student all the way from the Philippines

dontgeddit said...

I'm so glad you had the opportunity to contribute. I was very unhappy with the original title, as well, because it cast Assange as a villain interested only in monetary gain. The truth must be quite a bit more complex. Can you recommend a book about Wikileaks that is more balanced?

Pyrat mOrgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pyrat mOrgan said...

The video i'd like to do is not really directed at the masses of people - really intended to inspire and activate the artists and activists - people who are informed and searching for some inspiration and a "sword".

Anonymous said...

Don't know about the movie but I think Birgitta's decision to travel to the US in April is a silly move. If anything happens to Birgitta, it could actually detract from the focus being placed on the pre-trial hearings of poor Bradley Manning. If nothing happens to her (and, in my mind, that would raise BIG questions about Birgitta), the media will use that fact to say there is no possibility of onward extradition to the US from Sweden for Assange - "see, they aren't interested in prosecuting Wikileaks personnel" - and he MUST go to Sweden. So, if you think it through, Birgitta's not actually being supportive of Wikileaks.

Back in July 2012 Birgitta wrote in the Guardian how she received a diplomatic message that she had nothing to fear in travelling to the US, but there were specific instructions that the message was to be passed to her only VERBALLY. Nothing in writing? Now why would the US government insist on that? Her US lawyers, the ACLU, also found a secret docket in US court filings with her name on it. They couldn't get it unsealed. What's it for? Witness subpoena to the Wikileaks Grand Jury would be my guess.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/03/evidence-us-judicial-vendetta-wikileaks-activists-mounts

Look at this article from 31 January 2013 on how the US government went to a court ex parte to stop even the basis on which they were refusing an FOI request about FBI surveillance of Wikileaks supporters in the Wikileaks Grand Jury investigation from becoming public:

DOJ Tells Judge WikiLeaks Investigation Details Should Remain Secret:
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2013/01/doj-tells-judge-wikileaks-investigation-details-should-remain-secret.html

One of those reasons was that the FBI already had testimony from informants in the investigation and it would cause an international furore if their identity was revealed.

And they are using a secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to get it:
http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/02/01/doj-we-cant-tell-which-secret-application-of-section-215-prevents-us-from-telling-you-how-youre-surveilled/

John Ahern said...

Anonymous said that it would be foolish for Birgitta Jonsdottir to travel the US for two important reasons:

1) If anything were to happen to Birgitta, it would detract attention away from the Bradley Manning trial and his illegal incarceration;

2) If on the other hand, nothing happens to Birgitta it would provide a propaganda coup to US state-sponsored media who would use her appearance as evidence to mitigate against the threat of other Wikileaks workers and volunteers being prosecuted/persecuted.

I agree with both of the above two reasons.

However, I would add one more reason of my own:

3) Birgitta's appearance would add false legitimacy to the film's presentation insofar as it would be observed as an implicit endorsement of the movie and the dominant role performed by key Wikileaks detractors and disgruntled ex-Wikileaks staffers to create an unbalanced and negative view of Assange, and, inter alia, many other Wikileaks associates. This stands against the stated goals made by Birgitta in her own blog (here). This reason ought to be a more compelling reason even where the possibility of Birgitta's immediate indictment or detainment proves to be a lesser concern.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir said...

it is wonderful John and the Anon you agree with when people claim to know so much more then the people in the thick of it. i also really enjoy it when people claim to know my motivations and goals.

I have NO intention to make the life of Manning worse then it already is. If his lawyers would contact me and ask me not to go to the USA i would cancel my trip in a second.

In regards to Assange - he has never consulted me with his choices - that is if his choices will compromise my situation or other known volunteers.

I cant see that my journey to the USA can be harmful to him. I go in peace and I am doing all the needed work in order to make this trip in such a way that it is exactly not a show off, or show down. I need to do this, for many different reasons. There are many things you do not know and certainly by reading your comments you do not know me nor my motives to go to the USA.

Anonymous said...

"This will be a fictional movie..."

Well, there's your problem right there. Why are people lining up to create fiction about an on-going real-time event?

Profit and propaganda.

Rachael Dean said...

to Pyrat Morgan I get where ya coming from but if you only inspire artists and activists how do we 'wake-up' the masses; to me that sounds selfish. without inspiration where will the next generation of activists come from?
on another note as an Aussie really looking forward to voting for Assange 4 Senate Go GO WPNC YEAH!!!

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Anonymous said...

Yep Its very important to get the hands on personal messages across. it gives us all hope to carry on. There arethousands of people otu here/there, who put thier necks on the line as well. Such as might be the unemployed mother who strives to find the truth and spread it into the non cyber world as in it. Or the office junior that risks his job to spread and becomes active in what he believes is right in humanity. Often losing sacrificing friendships and family ties to do so. The unseens are very much the Hero/ines of our times, way beyond wikileaks and the alternative media streams. Not just the artists and actors or playrights, politicians or those willing to stand up and be counted in front of an audience or film set. No criticism intended, its all very important. But the nobodies that do most of the hard ground work and don't get a wage for it but yet spend hours a day sharing and passing information, through Blogs and social media sites, handing out leaflets to the public, holding small personal demos, while they have to survive to feed themselves and thier kids. Good for them as for all of us trying our hardest. R.Morgan

Anonymous said...

Yep Its very important to get the hands on personal messages across. it gives us all hope to carry on. There arethousands of people otu here/there, who put thier necks on the line as well. Such as might be the unemployed mother who strives to find the truth and spread it into the non cyber world as in it. Or the office junior that risks his job to spread and becomes active in what he believes is right in humanity. Often losing sacrificing friendships and family ties to do so. The unseens are very much the Hero/ines of our times, way beyond wikileaks and the alternative media streams. Not just the artists and actors or playrights, politicians or those willing to stand up and be counted in front of an audience or film set. No criticism intended, its all very important. But the nobodies that do most of the hard ground work and don't get a wage for it but yet spend hours a day sharing and passing information, through Blogs and social media sites, handing out leaflets to the public, holding small personal demos, while they have to survive to feed themselves and thier kids. Good for them as for all of us trying our hardest. R.Morgan