Hollywood WikiLeaks movie won't attempt judgment, director says

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:40pm EST

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles awards season Tea Party in Los Angeles, California, January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles awards season Tea Party in Los Angeles, California, January 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Filming has begun on a movie drama about Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks website that director Bill Condon said will not attempt to pass final judgment on the former hacker and his influence.

Hollywood movie studio DreamWorks said on Wednesday that "The Fifth Estate," starring British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, will open in U.S. movie theaters in November 2013.

The movie will trace the early days of WikiLeaks through the eyes of Assange and his German former spokesman, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (played by Daniel Brühl), culminating in the release in 2010 of a series of thousands of damaging government documents and emails.

"It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it's revolutionized the spread of information. So this film won't claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment," said Condon in a statement.

"We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked," added the director, whose past projects include musical "Dreamgirls" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn."

The movie screenplay is based on Domscheit-Berg's 2011 book "Inside WikiLeaks," written after the disillusioned German activist quit the organization, and a second book, "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy," by journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding.

Assange, who grew up in Australia, was also profiled in the 2012 Australian TV film "Underground."

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven months to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual assault.

Assange has said he fears extradition will ultimately lead to him being sent to the United States, which is furious that WikiLeaks has leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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