The recent revelations of Edward Snowden regarding the NSA’s PRISM surveillance programme have somewhat overshadowed the beginning of Bradley Manning’s trial and the first anniversary of Julian Assange’s residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he remains in fear of extradition should he leave. These two men were responsible for one of the largest security breaches in U.S. military history when, in 2010, Assange’s website published numerous classified documents provided by Manning.
This new documentary from director Alex Gibney (Mea Maxima Culpa) is exhaustively researched, though never less than engaging, as it tracks the history not just of the website, but also of these two individuals, following a classic rise-and-fall arc. However, it’s far from an unvarnished portrayal, adding another layer of complexity to one of the biggest news stories of recent years. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)