CITIZENFOUR is the never before seen, utterly riveting first-person look at how director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald first met with whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong where he gave them documents showing widespread abuses of power by the National Security Administration. It is an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall account of one of the most groundbreaking moments in recent history.
In January 2013, Poitras (recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship and co-recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service) was several years into making a film about surveillance in the post-9/11 era when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four,” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes.
CITIZENFOUR, premiered on Friday at the New York Film Festival, in advance of its wider release on October 24th.
UPDATE 01/21/2015 CITIZENFOUR (2014)
Laura Poitras participated in a HBO Directors Dialogues panel at NYFF on October 11 to discuss the film:
Poitras said that she hoped to continue following the story, and in fact may release the dozens of hours of footage from the Hong Kong hotel — in which details of the classified documents are revealed — in another form after the movie’s release. “It’s part of the public record. They need to get out,” she said.