Australian film maker Gabriel Shipton wants his new documentary “Ithaka”, which will have its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival on Sunday, to shine a new perspective on his brother, the polarizing Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.
“It’s a story that’s never been told before,” Shipton, who produced the film, told Variety. “We’ve learned Julian’s story through media headlines, but I wanted to tell this story through his family. To explore the human side that people haven’t seen.”
“Ithaka” begins in April 2019 when the images of Assange, arrested and dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London were splashed across screens worldwide. From there writer-director Ben Lawrence (“Hearts and Bones”) focuses on Assange’s 76-year-old father John Shipton, and Assange’s former secret fiancée, Stella Moris. They have spent the past two years relentlessly campaigning for Assange’s release, while trying to assemble some normality into the life of Moris and Assange’s two young children
Assange remains a remand prisoner at U.K.’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison as he appeals an extradition order to the U.S. where he could face 175 years in prison for his role in the release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables and Pentagon files about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Last June, Shipton accompanied his father on a month-long, 17-city tour of the U.S. to generate awareness. There, Shipton, measured and soft-spoken, endured endless media interviews and spent hours rallying support from Assange’s followers.
They will continue to travel and campaign around the world until Assange is released. “I think that is the message of the film, how you keep finding the power to keep going,” said Shipton. “My father is not a natural activist but I can’t imagine he’d be doing anything else that trying to save his son’s life.”