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A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 43 wins & 34 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself
...
Himself
William Binney ...
Himself
Jacob Appelbaum ...
Himself
Ewen MacAskill ...
Himself
...
Himself
M. Margareth McKeown ...
Herself - Judge
Kevin Bankston ...
Himself, attorney representing Carolyn Jewel
Harry Pregerson ...
Himself - Judge
H. Thomas Byron ...
Himself - Government Representative
Michael Daly Hawkins ...
Himself - Judge
Jonathan Man ...
Himself - Human Rights Lawyer
Robert Tibbo ...
Himself - Human Rights Lawyer (voice)
José Casado ...
Himself
Roberto Kaz ...
Himself (as Robert Kaz)
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Storyline

In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from "CITIZENFOUR," who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes. Written by Anonymous

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

28 November 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Гражданин четыре  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$193,957 (USA) (31 October 2014)

Gross:

$2,798,808 (USA) (24 April 2015)
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Company Credits

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

In the second CNN item (friday, 53'), the Hebrew characters on the mobile phone in the background aren't censored in the first two shots. Afterwards the background has changed to only leave Latin characters on the dial pad. See more »

Quotes

Edward Snowden: Assume your adversary is capable of one trillion guesses per second.
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Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

20 Ghosts III
Performed by Nine Inch Nails
Written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Courtesy of The Null Corporation
Engineered by Chris Holmes
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User Reviews

Documentary gold.
13 November 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind." Ed Snowden

Welcome to a real-time documentary that doesn't have a political agenda yet covers the most controversial and important whistle blowing in this century. Edward Snowden disclosed extensive information mining of US citizens by NSA and other agencies. Laura Poitras's thrilling but sometimes slow documentary takes us to Hong Kong to witness Snowden's alarming the world about the US spying on its citizens and world leaders among others.

Citizenfour (the handle Snowden used when communicating) keeps the audience front row and center as Snowden makes contact with director Laura Poitras to arrange footage of his process, and most importantly with reporter Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to write about this game-changing event. Neither is hesitant to take on the story, possibly because of its incendiary nature and the honesty of the whistleblower.

This story is like a great Jason Bourne spy story (without the glamour and tensions) pitting former intelligence operative Snowden against the great American political and media machines. In the outside world, German chancellor Angela Merkel expressed shock that the US was monitoring her cell phone conversations.

Poitras smartly includes President Obama condemning Snowden as unpatriotic and a danger to the American people, an argument going on even as you read this review. Curiously, the documentary makes no argument and goes easy on the suspense, making significant historical cinema but not gripping drama.

The so far unanswerable question is whether he's a hero or a traitor. The Snowden exposed to the ever present harsh light of camera and mics seems completely at peace with himself as he considers the rough life he has elected as a whistleblower. Indeed we are fortunate to see him at the most stressful point in his life being cool and level-headed. While Poitras makes sure we get to know him intimately, she never loses sight of the fact that this doc is about government spying.

Citizenfour is a fascinating, risky, and brave film for everyone who is interested in the challenges of truth telling.


65 of 74 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Snowden was a traitor daddyhutch
Did this deserve Best Documentary Oscar? leandroalvarezsanchez
Terror vs. Privacy mrdfolsom
Interesting for 20 mins, boring for 94 mins lievez
Where can I see this film? vertigo1982
The traitors are the ones violating your Constitutional Rights. alex14803
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