With WikiLeaks biopic The Fifth Estate launching today in the US, the organization will show its own competing film for free on the opening weekend. Mediastan, a documentary, is described as a "road movie" that follows WikiLeaks during its 2011 distribution of classified government cables. It's positioned as an antidote to The Fifth Estate, which praises WikiLeaks' overall mission but suggests the cable leaks were irresponsible and poorly planned. WikiLeaks has been consistently outraged through the hype cycle of both it and earlier documentary We Steal Secrets, and it's now getting a chance to go firmly on the offensive.
Mediastan was first released last week, and it was free in Europe for a limited time. The same thing is now happening in the US and Canada, where WikiLeaks will offer it without charge for 11 hours, starting at 10:00PM ET on Saturday the 19th. Otherwise, it can be rented for around $3 or bought for around $8. While the film is largely supposed to be a behind-the-scenes look at journalists' efforts to get the cables to media outlets, it also appears partially an attack on the "smug" executives of The New York Times and The Guardian, papers that published WikiLeaks' files but also, according to the organization, assassinated its character. While Mediastan hasn't yet received much critical attention, WikiLeaks correctly points out that The Fifth Estate was released to tepid reviews, making its alternative potentially pretty good by comparison.