Laura Poitras’s film about Julian Assange is finally set for release

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras

Jan Sturmann for The Boston Globe/file 2014

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras

In the song “Artists Only,” Talking Heads frontman David Byrne shouts: “You can’t see it ’til it’s finished!” Clearly, Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras feels the same way about her films.

And that, it turns out, is why her much-anticipated documentary “Risk,” about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hasn’t been released more than a year after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie isn’t finished.


So what’s taking so long? According to Slate, Poitras, who grew up in Holliston, has been tweaking “Risk” to include WikiLeaks’ involvement in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election: After the Russian government allegedly hacked the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails, Assange’s outfit released them.

It’s believed that the new material will make Assange a less sympathetic figure than he seemed in the version of the film that screened in France last year. Critics who saw “Risk” in Cannes said it made “an overwhelming case for Assange as a political prisoner.”

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In a trailer for the updated version, Poitras, who won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for “Citizenfour,” her film about Edward Snowden, says: “This is not the film I thought I was making. I thought I could ignore the contradictions. I thought they were not part of the story. I was wrong. They are becoming the story.”

“Risk” is scheduled to be released this summer, both in theaters and on Showtime.

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