According to Julian Assange, this is the only WikLeaks movie you need to see this year. He’s called both We Steal Secrets and The Fifth Estate “propaganda.” But this film is completely on the up-and-up. Assange is, of course, an unbiased observer here. Even though he produced the film. Which was made entirely by (and features) members of WikiLeaks. There is no propagandistic element to this documentary at all, no siree.
The biggest problem with Mediastan, though, isn’t that it’s of questionable trustworthiness. It’s that it’s incredibly boring. I couldn’t make it more than twenty minutes in. The story, following some WikiLeaks activists attempting to make connections with independent news outlets in Tajikistan, goes completely without involving incident. In a communique to the main characters, Assange (under house arrest at the time of filming) warns them against doing too much to alter the documents they hold before releasing them, for fear of introducing bias. The doc appears to have been made under the same rationale, with little thrown in to arrest the viewer’s emotions for fear of “bias.”
Mediastan is the least interesting inside look at the machinations of a paradigm-changing organization that’s yet been made. It is a work of amateur, the cinematic equivalent of a political poster slapped on the common room wall in a college dormitory. There is no art, no meaning, no intrigue.
If you are still curious, unfortunately your chance to stream the film free over the weekend has passed, but it is available to rent through various services including Facebook and Vimeo. Find info here. And for Dan’s thoughts on We Steal Secrets and The Fifth Estate, check out his latest Doc Option column here.