Julian Assange is one of the most significant figures of the twenty first century. But before he was famous, before WikiLeaks, before the internet even existed, he was a teenage computer hacker in Melbourne. This is his story. In 1989, known as ‘Mendax’, Assange and two friends formed a group called the ‘International Subversives’. Using early home computers and defining themselves as ‘white hat hackers’ - those who look but don’t steal – they broke into some of the world’s most powerful and secretive organisations. They were young, brilliant, and in the eyes of the US Government, a major threat to national security.
Underground is an Australian television film produced for Network Ten. It premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and aired on Network Ten on October 7 2012. The film draws its title from Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, a 1997 book by Suelette Dreyfus, researched by Julian Assange, but the film bares little relation to the book itself, which catalogues the exploits of a group of Australian, American, and British hackers during the 1980s and early 1990s, among them Assange himself. The film was not approved by Julian Assange, Wikileaks or any other member of the Assange family and there was no collaboration with the Assanges or Wikileaks during the making of the film. However Julian Assange subsequently had "a very favourable response to the movie". Filmed in and around Melbourne, the film was written and directed by Robert Connolly and produced by Matchbox Pictures’ Helen Bowden, with Tony Ayres and Rick Maier serving as Executive Producers.