Toronto International Film Festival Opens With Wikileaks Biopic

Category: Media & Culture / Sep 06, 2013 12:32PM EDT

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off on Thursday (September 5) with "The Fifth Estate," Bill Condon's big screen adaptation of the story behind anti-secrecy website Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

Hundreds of fans cheered outside Roy Thomson Hall as they got a peak of cast members who arrived to walk the red carpet.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays Assange in the film and has roles in two other films in the festival, signed autographs before posing for photographers.

The film is based on the book by Assange's once trusted lieutenant about events that led to the largest leak of official secrets in American history in 2010.

Director Bill Condon said he set out to make a political film that would spark conversations, without telling audiences what to think.

"I think too often political movies tend to be narrowly ideological. They come in with a point of view and then just sort of make you want to feel that way. And this one I didn't even know exactly how I came down on everything because it is so complex. So what about just doing the other thing, which is just laying out all the sides of it, the complexity, letting the audience walk away with a very entertaining experience I hope, because it is a thriller, but also walk away with sort of information that allows them to have a conversation," Condon told Reuters Television.

As for his own feelings about Assange, Condon said "It remains completely complicated for me. There are huge aspects that I admire, some I'm not sure about so it's still a great big ball of gray."

Festival goers are already buzzing about the film and its potential to reignite the public debate over secrecy, security and whistleblowing in the Internet era.

Assange however, panned the film after reportedly seeing a copy of the script, and refused to co-operate with film makers. Now that it's finished, Condon thinks Assange may be surprised by what he sees on screen.

"The Fifth Estate" leads other films at this year's festival that deal with transparency including, "The Armstrong Lie" and "Trap Street."

Video Credit: Reuters