Update (2/22/2015): Citizenfour won the Oscar for best documentary at the 2015 Academy Awards. After the announcement, the ACLU published a statement from Edward Snowden himself on the accomplishment.
“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me,” Snowden wrote in a statement. “The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”
Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald were on hand at the event to accept the honor. “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself,” Poitras said. “When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage.”
And after Poitras, Greenwald, and crew left the stage, host Neil Patrick Harris reminded everyone about Snowden’s current reality. “The subject of the film, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some t’reason.”
In light of the prize, we’ve resurfaced our take on the film from last fall. The original review is below in full.
Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras’ account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on October 24.
For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn’t full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the Internet, or journalism—it won’t matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material.
Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident.
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