WHAT IS MEDIASTAN?
MEDIASTAN audiences are treated to a behind-the-scenes insight into the world’s first truly global media event: "Operation Cablerun": the 2011 operation during which WikiLeaks ran hundreds of thousands of secret US government cables to media outlets around the world.
In MEDIASTAN, an undercover team of journalists drives across the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and into US-occupied Afghanistan, before continuing its journey into the west; regrouping in Julian Assange’s kitchen, ambushing the editor of the Guardian, and obtaining candid footage of the New York Times editor and its publisher Arthur Sulzberger wisecracking about Obama and WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange, explaining why he produced the film, stated, “Central Asia is the most fascinating geopolitical region in the world. It is the cream in the geopolitical layer cake. On the top, Russia, on the bottom, China; in the middle, a fight for US influence" But, Mr. Assange explained, "what started out as a geopolitical road movie transformed into a tale of comparative censorship as our adventure continued into the unexpected heart of MEDIASTAN."
The trail of censorship and media collusion with power eventually leads back to London and New York: to the offices of the New York Times and The Guardian.
Especially striking – and shocking – is footage of a smug New York Times editor Bill Keller boasting about the Times’ daily telephone conversations with the US government, his knowing decision to conceal the NSA’s mass surveillance program; and about what Keller refers to proprietor Sulzberger as the newspaper’s “favorite subject”: WikiLeaks.
In London, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger makes some awkward admissions: that his newspaper censored US cables about rich kletpocrats and western oil companies; and that the US State Department had ‘made approaches’ to the Guardian regarding its Cablegate publishing strategy.
WHERE IS MEDIASTAN?
MEDIASTAN director Johannes Wahlström explains "Mediastan is not so much a physical place as it is a state of mind among many of the journalists and editors who form our perceptions of the world." Producer Julian Assange said: "This is journalism in extremis. This is how it is done. This weekend, instead of wasting your time and money on claptrap Hollywood propaganda, why not get your friends together and watch MEDIASTAN instead?