How to watch the family-centric Assange documentary Ithaka


In the epic of Homer’s Odyssey, Ithaca (or Ithaka, spelled more closely to its original Greek) is the island homeland to which our hero Odysseus is desperate to return. His homecoming would take ten long years after the trials of the Trojan War.

For Julian Assange, 3000 days of persecution and separation from his loved ones has taken a similar toll. A new documentary from filmmaker Ben Lawrence depicts the struggle through the perspective of Assange’s 76-year-old father John Shipton. Ithaka is available to watch on the ABC from June 7 at 8:30, with both hour-long episodes streaming on ABC iview the same day.

Initially screened as a feature-length documentary, this moving and intimate political portrait has now been recut into two instalments, both of which are available for Aussie viewers to see via the ABC. The 76-year-old retired builder who acts as Ithaka‘s protagonist speaks humbly but urgently about his aims in the trailer below.

“I’m attempting in my own modest way to get Julian out of the shit”, Shipton says at his dining table. With his son the world’s most famous political prisoner for releasing prominent confidential information through his non-profit Wikileaks, Shipton must rally supporters from around the globe to battle Assange’s potential 175-year prison sentence if extradited to the US.

In his review for Flicks, Travis Johnson found the film emotionally compelling but also “firmly on the side of the imprisoned journalist”. He continued, “You could argue that such bias is inevitable or even justifiable, given the nature of the situation and Lawrence’s extended proximity to Shipton and the defence team, but there is no attempt here to present even the mildest counterargument to the Assange cause.”

So if you’re team Assange, it sounds like Ithaka is a worthwhile and illuminating watch. Anyone on the fence may find the two-part investigation to be challenging, but the family story of a father fighting remotely for his son’s freedom sounds like an innately fascinating theme nonetheless.