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Citizenfour (2014)

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

Director:

Laura Poitras
Won 1 Oscar. Another 43 wins & 35 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Witness the event that changed history: The Edward Snowden revelations.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA | Germany | UK

Language:

English | Portuguese | German

Release Date:

28 November 2014 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cidadãoquatro See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$193,957, 31 October 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,800,870

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,780,692
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Film Society of Lincoln Center (which selects films for the New York Film Festival) reported that Laura Poitras changed the location of the initial screening for the NYFF's selection committee several times, in case someone was tracking her movements. The committee was shown a rough cut that had sensitive material redacted, and the NYFF "had to keep the movie's inclusion in the festival under wraps until mid-September" and it was "kept out of festival schedules and documents until [they] could talk about it openly". The last-minute inclusion in the festival's main slate was an unprecedented event for the NYFF, and "tickets for both screenings sold out within just a few hours". 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

TITLE CARD]: The Guardian reports on the same NSA program soon after.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in De slimste mens ter wereld: Episode #8.29 (2016) 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 jdesandoSee 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.


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