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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

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

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]: William Binney is asked to testify as an expert witness.
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Soundtracks

Come & Get It
Performed by Selena Gomez
Written by Ester Dean, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen
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User Reviews

 
Walk a Mile in his Shoes
20 November 2014 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Edward Snowden. You know the name and you know the story. Hero of the People or Enemy of the State? Ultimate Patriot or a double-spy for the Russians? Protected as a Whistle-Blower or Guilty of Treason? Chances are you long ago made up your mind on how you view Ed (his stated name preference).

In January 2013, Snowden contacted documentarian Laura Poitras via an anonymous email name "Citizenfour". By June, the two were meeting in a Hong Kong hotel along with journalist Glenn Greenwald. What follows is a mesmerizing look at the actual footage shot of Greenwald interviewing Snowden. This is Ed Snowden before the media storm. This is Ed Snowden continually proclaiming that he is not the story, and he is trusting Greenwald to determine what documents are fit for public release. He voices concern about jeopardizing national security, while at the same time being adamant about exposing the immense and widespread governmental tracking of digital movements by millions of people … most with no known ties to terrorism.

The timeline is public record, so the core of the film is really an intimate look at the man who, acutely aware of the coming fallout, proceeded with pulling the curtain back on NSA actions that he deemed inappropriate. Ms. Poitras structures the film as a thriller, and it will certainly cause tension in every viewer. We can't help but put ourselves in Snowden's shoes. Would we feel the need to go public with proof? Who would we tell? How would we tell them? Would we be willing to release our name, knowing it could put everyone we love in danger? Would we be prepared to watch our President publicly call us out as unpatriotic and a danger to the nation? These questions are impossible for us to answer, but add weight to the scenes of Snowden answering Greenwald's questions while Ms. Poitras works the camera.

One of the more interesting points made in the movie is that what we once termed individual freedom and liberties, is now couched as privacy. We have come to expect our privacy, and certainly don't appreciate our government digging through our emails, search history, texts and phone calls. But how to balance the individual "right" to privacy with the government's need to collect intelligence in the name of national security? That's the key question, and one with no clear answer.

Regardless of your opinion on Snowden and his actions, the film presents him as an idealist believing he is doing the right thing. Most of this occurs before the media firestorm, but we do see the anticipated fallout. Once Snowden goes into hiding, we witness Greenwald becoming the face and voice of the cause. He is a talented journalist and exceptional speaker, and doesn't back down from the reaction of those who stand accused.

The film allows us to take notice of the personal attacks on Snowden as an attempt discredit his documentation. Making Snowden the story distracted the media and the general public from the real issue. It's a fascinating film that will surely make you uncomfortable and cause re-evaluation of the chain of events. You may not change your mind, but you will most certainly have a better understanding of the human side.


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