HBO is firing on all cylinders when it comes to political docu-dramas. The cable network has signed Charles Ferguson, director of the tell-all financial documentary Inside Job, to helm their WikiLeaks/Julian Assange TV movie.
Ferguson’s Inside Job explored the motivations and causes of the 2008 financial meltdown, laying the blame squarely at the feet of Wall Street stock brokers and politicians in favor of deregulation. The film won Ferguson the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, outshining such competitors as Exit Through the Gift Shop and Gasland.
Ferguson’s only other film credit is No End In Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq, which was nominated for the same award in 2008. The HBO project will be a drama, making it the director’s first stab at a non-documentary film. Audrey Mars, who won the Oscar alongside Ferguson, will produce.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last eighteen months, WikiLeaks is a controversial whistle-blower website that allows informants to anonymously submit sensitive documents and media. The site’s executive officer, Australian Julian Assange, is currently in Britain appealing extradition to Sweden for questioning in the sexual assault of a woman.
The exploits of Assange and WikiLeaks caught the attention of media and governments the world over in 2007, when the site leaked incriminating documents detailing the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. In 2010 WikiLeaks created a media firestorm when the site leaked confidential diplomatic cables between the United States and other nations, hundreds of thousands of military documents, and battlefield footage purportedly showing American soldiers firing on Iraqi civilians.
Assange himself has been applauded by transparency advocates. He won Time Magazine‘s reader poll for Person of the Year in 2010, and Amnesty International’s UK Media Award the year before. Many government officials and private citizens vilify Assange as a “high-tech terrorist” for his compliance in the release of confidential information.
HBO has never been one to shy away from political controversy, but they seem to be taking it up a notch as of late. The untitled Assange/WikiLeaks film joins Game Change, a dramatic adaptation of the 2008 US presidential election, on HBO’s upcoming feature list.