Ithaka is a strange and convoluted documentary about the campaign to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe and the US, While it does divulge some inside information and background on the details that led to the detainment of Assange, it comes across as more a feature on his estranged father, John Shipton.

The world’s most famous political prisoner, Julian Assange, has become an unfortunate emblem for freedom of journalism, after exposing government corruption and war crimes on his popular news website. Now with Julian facing a 175 year sentence if extradited to the US, his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the US, and global judicial system.

Currently, he remains in a British maximum-security prison, while American government prosecutors continue to extradite him to face trial in the US. Meanwhile, his physical and mental well-being are rapidly deteriorating. He is being treated as the worst or the worst hardened criminals, for the simple fact that he publicly disclosed inside government corruption information, that was provided to him by whistleblower   trans veteran, Chelsea Manning. While Manning received a full pardon from the Obama administration, Assange was refused one by both Trump and Biden. 

Weaving historic archive and intimate behind-the-scenes footage, this story tracks John’s journey alongside Julian’s fiancée, Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian. Viewers witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare – where he is forced to confront events that made Julian a global flashpoint.

Ithaka provides a timely reminder of the global issues at stake in this case, as well as an insight into the personal toll inflicted by the arduous, often lonely task of fighting for a cause bigger than oneself. A reminder that while it should be of utmost importance to all news outlets worldwide, there are very few who remain focused to be reporting on this case. There are dozens of human rights organizations who remain vocal, and thousands of public supporters, but where are the press whom the outcome of this case could be of dire significance to them?

Screening at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St West, Toronto – March 19 to 26. Tickets here.

Julian’s father and brother will be in attendance for a post screening Q&A on March 24.

Written & Directed by Ben Lawrence 

Original score by Brian Eno

Produced by Gabriel Shipton, Adrian Devant

BEN LAWRENCE – Directors Bio

Nominated by Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards in 2022, Ben is also a four-time Australian Writers Guild Award winner across feature film, documentary and podcast categories. His films have screened at Toronto, Busan, Sydney, Edinburgh, Clermont-Ferrand, Sitges, Sheffield, DocNYC, Melbourne, Palm Springs, Taormina, Tallin and Sao Paulo Film Festivals. In 2020 he was awarded the Australian Directors Guild highest award for his feature film, Hearts and Bones – which starred Hugo Weaving and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. His 2018 documentary, Ghosthunter won the Sydney Film Festival Best Documentary award and was nominated for the esteemed Illuminate Award at Sheffield DocFest. His Audible podcast based on Ghosthunter, which he presented & co-wrote was voted top 5 podcasts of 2019 by Rolling Stone Magazine. His latest documentary, Ithaka was also an Australian Academy of Cinema & TV Award nominee and and opened the Berlin Human Rights Film festival – where it won the Audience Award, and also screened in competition at the Sydney, DocNYC, Sheffield and DocEdge Festival – where Ben was awarded Best International Director.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.