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
The name of the movie comes from the fact that on the year 2013, director Laura Poitras received an encrypted e-mail from a stranger who calls himself "Citizenfour", who was Snowden, offering her inside information about illegal wiretapping practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies. See more »
One of the last title cards reads: "Edward Snowden's longtime partner, Lindsay Mills moves to Moscow to be with him", Snowden has stated in many interviews that Lindsay is his girlfriend not life partner. See more »
Two days later WikiLeaks organizes his departure from Hong Kong to seek political asylum.
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Edward Snowden went from obscurity to fame overnight when he blew the whistle on the NSA's massive espionage program in June 2013. Litigator-turned-reporter Glenn Greenwald got recognized as the person helping Snowden expose the story, along with The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill and The Washington Post's Barton Gellman. But while the world saw the footage of Snowden speaking in the hotel room in Hong Kong, there was another person in the room with him, Greenwald and MacAskill: Laura Poitras, who filmed the interview. "Citizenfour" (the name that Snowden used when he contacted Poitras) tells the story of the interview and international reaction to Snowden's revelations.
It took guts to film and release this documentary. I think that in the end, the main outcome of Snowden's revelations is that the US's and UK's reputations are ruined. The documentary includes footage of hearings on the surveillance in Brazil (whose president was a victim of the surveillance) and Belgium (the seat of the European Union, whose heads of state were victims). I suspect that the peoples of Eastern Europe are the most befuddled by the revelations. For years under the Soviet occupation they looked to the US as a beacon of freedom, and now they see that the US is no different from the USSR. The British government, meanwhile, comes across as a US proxy in Europe.
"Citizenfour" is a documentary that not only deserves a lot of recognition, but should spark more discussion about the surveillance apparatus. As for Edward Snowden, he remains in political asylum in Russia, and his partner Lindsay Mills has joined him there. Oliver Stone is now making a movie about his revelations. In the meantime, I recommend the documentary.
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