In 2013 Laura Poitras, an American documentary maker working on a film about monitoring programs in the US, receives an encrypted e-mail from a stranger calling themself ‘Citizenfour’…
This 2014 documentary film directed by Laura Poitras covers the topic of Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal. The film features interviews with Edward Snowden and investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, with Steven Soderbergh serving as executive producer.
Poitras was several years into making a film about surveillance in the post-9/11 era of America when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying themself as “Citizenfour.” This individual claimed to be ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs and illegal wiretapping practices by the NSA and other intelligence agencies across America.
In June 2013, accompanied by investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian reporter Ewen MacAskill, she travels to Hong Kong for the first face-to-face meeting with Citizenfour in a hotel.
This man reveals his name to be Edward Snowden, who allows her to film their encounters.
Poitras was privy to the real-time, behind the scenes exploits of one of the most monumental whistleblowing events in modern times. This once in a lifetime film encapsulates the importance of these events and the huge personal cost Snowden had to pay in exchange for bringing this information to the public’s attention.
The film offers smaller vignettes that precede and follow Snowden’s Hong Kong interviews, including William Binney speaking about NSA programs, and eventually testifying before the German Parliament regarding NSA spying in Germany.
This is a brave, bold and important film. Poitras isn’t there to question his motives or the rightness of his cause, she’s there to bear witness.
Citizenfour received critical acclaim upon release, and was the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Oscars.
Watch the official trailer for Citizenfour HERE: