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New film planned about Julian Assange's internet dating adventures

EXCLUSIVE: After his documentary on the imprisoned Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, German filmmaker Cyril Tuschi is now setting his sights on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Speaking exclusively to Screen, producers Jan Krüger and René Römert of Berlin-based Port-au-Prince Film & Kultur-Produktion (PaP) reveal that Tuschi has been working with UK screenwriter Michael Gaster on a screenplay for an English-language fiction feature about Assange entitled Leaks – Three Dates With Harry Harrison.

“Cyril came up with the fact that Assange had been involved in internet dating using the screen name of Harry Harrison,” Krüger explains. “So, the film recounts three dates with Harry Harrison taking place in 2010. One date is in Iceland when he was establishing a organisation that would change journalism, democracy and the Internet. Then we jump to the second date with a fan in Sweden where he is the man of the moment and feted like a popstar.

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“We are interested in the fact that, from an early age, this character has always wanted to change the world and was constantly on the move with his mother in Australia to get away from the stepfather. As a 15-year-old, he had stood up to his stepfather as a symbol of authority. This is something that runs like a common thread through ‘Harrison’s’ life.”

“Finally, there is an internet date in a manor house in London, with ‘Harrison’ all by himself wearing an electronic tag, third date being with a woman journalist who reflects on where he has ended up.”

“The film will chart the rise and fall of someone who pits themselves against authority, a Robin Hood of the digital age who stumbles over his own personality,” Krüger says.

Römert points out that Leaks is set to be shot in summer 2013, with 80% of the filming in Northern Germany, with 20 days in studios in Berlin and Schloss Beesenstadt near Halle standing in for the English manor house where Assange has been living.

“We have had various ideas during the project’s development in the past two years as to who we could cast as Harry,” he says. “What’s for sure is that it will either be a British or an Australian actor.”

Krüger adds that there has already been “great interest” from two world sales companies as well as German broadcasters in the project.

Leaks is one of four English-language feature film projects PaP has been developing specifically for the internationally market with backing from a private equity investor.

The other projects are:

  • Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg graduate Christian Pasquariello’s thriller Sum1 about a young army recruit on a 100-day mission to protect an area of forest from allegedly potential aggressors;
  • Felix Randau’s homage to the country rock legend Gram Parsons, Cowboy Angel, with the action transposed to the present and shot at locations on Germany’s North Sea coast; and
  • Oliver Rihs’ sci-fi adventure Metropolis Now!, a vision of hypercapitalism in 2050, written by Oliver Keidel.

Meanwhile, PaP is currently shooting the feature music documentary Journey To Jah by debutants Noel Dernesch and Moritz Springer.

PaP has also launched the inhouse distribution arm Port-au-Prince Pictures to release the internet dating comedy Dating Lanzelot in German cinemas on Aug 30.

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