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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:

$126,321, 26 October 2014

Gross USA:

$2,800,870

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,003,169
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

Edward Snowden decided to contact with Laura Poitras after seeing a short film that Poitras had done for The New York Times about William Binney, an NSA whistle-blower. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

TITLE CARD]: In July 2014 Edward Snowden's longtime partner, Lindsay Mills moves to Moscow to be with him.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Docventures: Salaliitto (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

02 Ghosts I
Performed by Nine Inch Nails
Written by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Courtesy of The Null Corporation
Engineered by Chris Holmes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Solid, Powerful
27 October 2014 | by mlwehleSee all my reviews

I thought Citizenfour was quite powerful as a humanizing portrayal of Snowden. I didn't learn anything new particularly about NSA programs, since I've been reading each story I come across, but the film quite effectively transported me into Snowden's hotel room in Hong Kong and into conversations with Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras and MacAskill. Snowden comes off as a completely responsible, quite sincere, thoughtful young man. He very clearly and explicitly says that he does not want to be the story, and one believes him. Whereas Assange can impress people as narcissistic and Bradley/Chelsea Manning's sexual confusion was only one of a number of facets which distracted from Cablegate, Snowden sounds like a young Ellsberg – very intelligent and well-spoken.

Poitras's style was interesting, I thought. The camera a number of times holds for lengthy periods on fairly static shots of architecture, which served to impress the viewer with the monolithic, pervasive nature of the NSA's networks. There's a long disorienting shot out the window of a train at night or going through a tunnel, which draws you into the dark network Snowden's revealing.

The film successfully touches on a number of different aspects of the surveillance state, bringing in the idea that when we talk about "privacy" we're talking about security, about our constitutional right to freedom from unlawful search and seizure. I think this is a hard sell for too many viewers. I don't fault the film here. I saw it with a friend who was a few minutes late because she was watching the Giants' game. In discussing the movie afterward she questioned just how important some of the issues raised were. Greenwald and others speak passionately about the dangers of the surveillance state, but my date pointed out that she can't feel much fear that the NSA is going to be breaking down her door because of anything she's said on the phone or in e-mail. My own experience is that friends and colleagues on the one hand self-censor and don't mention politics, drugs, Bittorrent use, etc. in e-mail or social media for fear of the all-knowing eye, or on the other hand seem oblivious to any danger – why worry about Google programmatically reading every single e-mail sent or received, if it means free e-mail and potentially more accurate search results when shopping? Snowden at one point convincingly says he doesn't think it is possible for anyone no matter how brilliant and educated to individually fight all the electronic surveillance systems in existence. We're told of the multitude of methods of surveillance and repeatedly shown NSA officials blatantly lying to Congress about their existence. The lack of accountability for this last has been personally troubling to me – I remember Watergate and Iran-Contra – how is it that the heads of the NSA can with impunity flat out lie to Congress about spying on American citizens? What will viewers come away with when walking out of the theater after Citizenfour? I'm wondering how many will see it as a call to action, and how many as a well-executed depiction of Edward Snowden's experience, which may not be seen as intersecting our own.


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