As part of their ‘Meet the Filmmaker’ series, Underground: the Julian Assange story has been playing at Cinema Nova all this past week in Melbourne. The movie was principally made as a tele-movie and was largely funded by Channel 10 (and it was aired last year).
The movie is based on the book Underground by Suelette Dryfus (1997). Suelette is a researcher in Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne where I also work. She has given guest lectures in subject that I have taught in and I was first introduced to the book whist studying hypertext theory with Dean Kiley back in 1997.
I identified with the movie on a number of levels, partly because I am about the same age as Assange and share a similar history in terms of the broader development of computing. And along with many of my peers, I dabbled in ‘hacktervism’ around the year 2000 within the ‘’anti-globalisation” movement, but nowhere near on the scale and boldness of the individuals in Dryfus’s book (well, we built disobedient web-pages when this was a special thing to do)
I met Alex Williams (who played Assange) and Robert Connolly (Director) in the Nova Bar after the show and was struck by how approachable and generous they both were. This is Williams’ first major role and I am sure that his performance in Underground will lead onto other outstanding roles. Connolly I liked a lot, especially how he handled the Nova audience with the inevitable nutters mumbling in the background and asking odd questions that had very little to do with the themes of “movie making and directing actors”.
It is a delightful movie and a wonderful time in history; the early days of the hacker underground and the adolescent development of Julian Assange. Assange is one of the two greatest (phone) hackers to come out of Melbourne and for this we should all be extremely proud. Proud of both Rupert Murdoch and Julian Assange!