★★★★ Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
★★★★ Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
★★★★★ Margaret Pomeranz
Ithaka, director Ben Lawrence’s feature documentary about the determined public advocacy by Julian’s father, John Shipton, in the face of legal battles and media glare, will have its North American premiere at DOC NYC on November 13.
The film’s US premiere at this prestigious documentary festival comes as Assange continues to be incarcerated in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison as he fights extradition from Britain to the US.
Assange married his partner Stella Moris in Belmarsh earlier this year in a ceremony attended by their two children, Assange’s father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton, who is producer of Ithaka.
Gabriel Shipton and Ben Lawrence will attend the New York City screening.
Ithaka is Writer/Director Ben Lawrence’s return to documentary after the success of his earlier film Ghosthunter.
Ithaka was previously selected to screen at the Sydney Film Festival, SheffieldDoc/Fest and Doc Edge NZ, has been shortlisted for a Walkley Award, nominated for an AWG Award and nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Documentary.
Producer Gabriel Shipton said: “At a time when the space for documentaries that challenge the political status quo is harder and harder to find, we applaud DOC NYC for programming Ithaka. The story of my brother’s fight for freedom against the might of the US Government and our family’s continued efforts to secure his release is a wake-up call for people of the world to defend their democratic rights and to insist on the freedom of the press.
“It’s also a timely call to documentary filmmakers to agitate for their art form, before it is lost.”
The film begins on April 11th 2019, when images of Julian Assange being arrested from the Ecuadorian embassy in London are beamed across the world. Since that moment Julian has been silenced and into the void have stepped lawyers, advocates, and supporters. Standing unique among them is Julian’s wife, Stella Moris and 76-year-old father, John Shipton – a self-taught builder from Sydney. Using Julian’s extradition hearing as a framework, this intimate story of a family’s crisis traces moments from the trial and its aftermath, underscoring how Julian’s story is emblematic of a decade of uncertainty and volatility.
With this period of upheaval as a backdrop, the film frames John and Stella’s campaign and Julian’s motivations as an echo to the disquiet taking place across this increasingly partisan world – and explores this global cry for justice through the story of a family at the centre of the fight.
Music is by Brian Eno.