The campaign to free Julian Assange takes on intimate dimensions in this portrait of a father's fight to save his son.
Directed by Ben Lawrence
Produced by Gabriel Shipton, Adrian Devant
Executive Producer: Roger Savage
Writer: Ben Lawrence
Director of Photography: Niels Ladefoged
Editor: Karen Johnson
Original Music: Brian Eno
[Note: Community screenings of ithaka can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"Emotional...Affecting...[A] heart-rending personal story of his family's battle to free him." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe and the US, ITHAKA follows the tireless campaign of 76 year-old retired builder, John Shipton, to save his son, Julian Assange.
One of the world's most famous political prisoners, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has become the scapegoat for an international struggle pitting freedom of the press against government secrecy, corruption and unpunished war crimes.
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 justice system. This David-and-Goliath struggle is personal—and, with Julian's health declining in a British maximum-security prison and American government prosecutors attempting to extradite him to face trial in the US, the clock is ticking.
Now it's up to Julian's father, John Shipton, and fiancé Stella Moris, to join forces to advocate for Julian on this international odyssey. As they rally a world-wide network of supporters and politicians, they cautiously step into the media's glare—and are forced to confront the events that made Julian a global flashpoint.
ITHAKA provides a timely insight into the personal toll inflicted by the arduous, often lonely task of fighting for a cause bigger than oneself.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2023
Copyright Date: 2022
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-93-3
"For over a decade, state-sponsored media campaigns have forced the abstraction and criminalization of Julian Assange. In a refreshing rebuke of these campaigns, Ithaka chronicles the stories of Assange's family members and supporters as it weaves an impassioned narrative fabric that illuminates how the obstruction of truth, civil liberties, and democracy is more than an attack on principles; it is a torturous assault on individual people and their families. While a harrowing reminder of the relentless erasure of democracy by institutions of authoritarian power, the creative genius behind Ithaka rests in its ability to humanize Julian Assange without direct access to him, thus revealing the power of unwavering hope in a family's quest for truth and justice."
Joshua Guitar, Assistant Professor of Communication, Media and Journalism, Kean
University, Author, Dissent, Discourse, and Democracy: Whistleblowers as Sites of Political Contestation
"This film helps tell a side of the WikiLeaks and Julian Assange story that we haven't heard about before. Seeing the impact of his case on his family shows another side of this highly controversial public figure and international modern media player. Julian Assange's case has been an important part of the debate on government secrets and modern media for more than a decade, but for many this was some of the first behind-the-scenes footage we've been able to see or hear from Assange. The debate and legal proceedings continue and this film tells one more side of this multifaceted story."
Roy S. Gutterman, Director, Tully Center for Free Speech, Associate Professor, Communications Law and Journalism, Syracuse University
"Ithaka persuasively argues that Julian Assange's psychological torture is designed to terrify and silence others who might dare to reveal abuses by global powers, but instead of portraits showing frightened people keeping their distance, we find close-up views of family and others refusing to back away in fear as they support Assange and embrace him and his cause. This is an intimate portrait of a difficult fight for the freedom to tell the truth. If there was a calculation that Assange will be forgotten, Ithaka rebels against any such complacency as it stirs renewed calls to end Julian Assange's torture and imprisonment. This film will be indispensable in any class exploring problems of 21st century democracies and attacks on the freedom of expression and the press."
David H. Price, Professor of Anthropology, Saint Martin's University, Author, The American Surveillance State
"Ithaka is a powerful reminder of how endangered freedom of speech is in today's world. Instead of being celebrated, whistleblowers who reveal serious government crime and corruption are persecuted. Watch this film to learn about how families and movements are fighting back."
Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer, Human Rights Foundation
"For those who value free speech, there is no film more important to watch than the documentary Ithaka. As a father it was painful to watch John Shipton struggle to get people to understand the issues which landed his son Julian Assange in prison. This is a wake-up call to all governments and everyone who claims to value Democracy and free speech."
Brian J. Karem, Author, Free the Press
"Timely, essential, and deeply human...This is really powerful stuff."
Andrew Peirce, The Curb
"Ithaka [is] a powerhouse new feature documentary...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."
"Intriguing...Shipton is a fascinating character - abrupt, ill at ease with the voracious press attention, but also possessed of a sharp, unusual intelligence...It's a mind, you suspect, that is not dissimilar to that of his son."
Wendy Ide, The Guardian
"Emotional...Affecting...[A] heart-rending personal story of his family's battle to free him."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Superb film...Assange remains in prison, the US appealing the verdict, and the central issue remains live: both a human being and press freedoms are under assault."
Karl Quinn, The Age
"Ithaka is a deft look at Julian Assange, his family and supporters...It is fascinating to meet Shipton, a man who so resembles his son they could almost be siblings. Not only are they alike physically, they have the same gift for language with a similar tendency to speak, from time to time, in riddles like an ancient seer...Besides questions of human rights, press freedom and freedom of speech that Ithaka wants us to consider, there is a fascinating portrait of Julian's father here."
Jane Freebury, The Canberra Times
|DVDs include public performance rights.
Awards and Festivals
Audience Award, Human Rights Film Festival, Berlin
Amnesty International Award, Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Best International Director, Doc Edge Festival
Best Documentary & Audience Award, Soho London Independent Film Festival
Opening Night Film, Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary, Sydney Film Festival
Best Documentary, Australian Writers Guild
Nominee, Best Documentary, Cleveland International Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary, Walkley Awards
Nominee, Best Feature Documentary, AACTA Awards
Best Documentary, Best Direction, Capricorn Film Festival
American Documentary and Animation Film Festival
Salem Film Fest
Citizenship and Civics
War and Peace
A brilliant visual essay about the costs, benefits and history of the vast, invisible world of government secrecy.
Tells the inside story of how the U.S. government adopted torture as official policy in the aftermath of 9/11.
The War You Don't See
John Pilger's powerful and timely investigation into the media's role in war.
Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror
John Pilger dissects the truth and lies in the 'war on terror'.
Focuses on the human cost of the Iraq War to contrast corporate-controlled media coverage with independent media.
A 2-DVD set designed to help students critically analyze some of our foreign policy interventions since World War II.
... more Reviews
"In Homer's myth, Odysseus regains his homeland, the Greek island of Ithaka, but there is no end in sight for Julian Assange's odyssey...4 stars."
Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
"A masterful piece of filmmaking that will impress Assange's supporters as well as those who don't like him...A brilliant reconciliation between politics and art, information and aesthetic beauty."
Livan Garcia-Duquesne, DMovies
"A compelling watch...Stella and John push through their weariness and continue the fight despite the hopeless odds...Ithaka will likely be remembered for honoring these two unsung heroes as much as for promoting Assange's freedom...It ultimately acts as a powerful tool to highlight this contemporary attack on free speech and its impact on those behind the slogan 'Free Julian Assange.' 4 stars."
Nathanial Eker-Male, The Indiependent