Movie screening in Barcelona portrays Julian Assange’s story through family's eyes

Story of imprisoned journalist and more in Human Rights Film Festival until December 10

Movie producer Gabriel Shipton and co-producer Adrian Devant during a debate after the screening of ‘Ithaka’ in Cinemes Maldà
Movie producer Gabriel Shipton and co-producer Adrian Devant during a debate after the screening of ‘Ithaka’ in Cinemes Maldà / Maxime Van Cleven

Maxime Van Cleven | Barcelona

December 2, 2022 04:25 PM

December 2, 2022 04:36 PM

‘Ithaka’, the documentary film that follows the imprisonment process of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through the eyes of his family members, was screened and discussed on the opening night of the Human Rights Film Festival in Barcelona on Thursday night.

The festival takes place at Cinemes Maldà in Barcelona’s Gothic neighborhood until December 10 and includes many debates and participants, alongside the International Forum on Human Rights.


With the screening about Julian Assange, the festival started off by raising debate about the right to freedom of speech and press. The movie mostly follows the footsteps of Assange’s father, who explains the fight for his son’s freedom in a heartfelt, personal way.

Mixed with footage of protests, gatherings or meetings with Assange’s wife, the viewer sees the passion rising in the usually calm-looking father of the WikiLeaks founder. "If he goes down, so does journalism,” he shouted at a protest in London.

To this day, Assange fears a 175-year long prison sentence if he is extradited to the United States after leaking footage of war crimes and government documents. For now, the 51-year-old is being held in a British maximum-security prison where concerns about his well being have been raised.

His wife and lawyer Stella Moris plays an important role in the movie, showing intimate and painful footage of herself and her two kids at home while trying to find ways to help Assange from the outside.

“People who expose war crimes should not have to go to prison for the rest of their lives,” Moris said while crying in one of the many interviews shown in the movie. Pointing out the injustice, she said that “none of the people who committed the crimes are on trial here today.”

Assange and his family received worldwide support from activists, some news outlets and politicians, as the US government charged the WikiLeaks for violating the Espionage Act of 1917, which doesn’t align with the first amendment according to the supporters.

Causing debate

Before and after the screening on Thursday, a debate about the situation took place with Assange’s brother and movie producer Gabriel Shipton and co-producer Adrian Devant attending.

“We are seeing a slow motion murder before our eyes,” Shipton said during the discussion after the screening. He produced the film, wanting to share a story of injustice to the world through the eyes of the family.

“This sends publishers and journalists the message that if they publish similar kinds of information against state secrets, war crimes or corruption, they will have as much rights as the chair that I am sitting on right now,” Shipton explained.

Fearing the worldwide effect of Assange’s case, his brother added that “what is happening to Julian became a template for other regimes to use against their journalists who publish inconvenient truths.”

Spotlighting human rights

The Human Rights Film Festival, directed by Toni Navarro who is also in charge of the New York edition, takes place in Barcelona’s Cinemes Maldà with a packed program of national and international films that will also be available online.

The festival consists of more than a hundred movies, chosen from 1,500 options they received, with an overall goal of trying to understand the different crises that humanity faces without censorship or correction.

Several movie screenings will be in the presence of directors, actors, or people who can add an interesting viewpoint in the debate around the movies during the 19th edition of the country’s largest human rights related film festival.

Packed program

This Friday, director and university professor Roger Stahl will present the premiere of ‘Theaters of war’, talking about how the U.S. military complex has manipulated thousands of Hollywood movie scripts.

The newest movie by actor and director Juan Diego Botto ‘En los márgenes’ will be shown with the online presence of actress Penélope Cruz and on Monday, and Oscar winner Marcel Mettelsiefen will present his movie "In her hands" in the Barcelona based cinema, portraying the life of the youngest female mayor of Afghanistan.

There will also be a screening of ‘Qatargate: the secrets of the World Cup’, a documentary revealing the secrets of the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and one of the many movies making their premiere in Spain.

Between December 4 and 9, an International Forum on Human Rights will take place in Barcelona, where a jury specialized in the audiovisual sector will decide who to award in different categories such as Best Catalan Film, Best Environmental Film, Best Documentary Short Film and Best Cinematography on the final day of the forum.