Director: Laura Poitras
Actors: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald
Runtime: 114 min
“We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.” Edward Snowden
In January of 2013 documentary film director and producer Laura Poitras received an encrypted e-mail from a stranger who called himself Citizen Four, who offered to provide insider information about illegal wiretapping practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies. A few months later, along with two journalists, she went to Hong Kong and met with now famous Eduard Snowden.
The documents that Snowden disclosed reveal organized control over the entire world telecommunications conducted by US “Intelligence Community” in conjunction with the US Government and with cooperation of the largest information and telecommunications corporations.
This documentary doesn’t contain new details about NSA covert operations or information about their plans. Everything said here is already known to all who have followed this case in the media. Nevertheless, Citizenfour is extremely powerfully historical document that recorded argumentation and thought process of one of the most significant whistle-blowers of our time. This is the key importance of the Citizenfour. Here, we see Snowden as an intelligent young man, rational, precise in thought and expression, very articulate and most importantly, courageous, ethical and highly motivated. Its not coincidence that Eduard Snowden is often compared with the case of analyst Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971 handed a large internal secret Pentagon report on the war in Vietnam to the press.
A man who, guided by ethical principles, decides to risk everything he has and takes a step into the unknown deserves to be hailed as a hero. Without exaggeration, we can say that whistle-blowers who are giving to the public evidences of abuses and crimes of the state and corporations are the true heroes of our time.
Another impression is also very strong – that of loathing we feel in front of blatant media lies of state representatives and bureaucrats of intelligence organizations. Today, this 1000 times repeated lie didn’t become the truth – it remained a lie, and those behind it are continuing to be liars. We fully understand that the world system in we live in has absolutely no legitimacy, and is primarily maintained by the bare force and fear of that force. Strongest feeling that remains after watching this film is the anxiety about the direction in which the world is going and the hope that the possibility to change that route still exists. It is not the question of the nature of the society we live in. We know it, we understand it. The real question is — what kind of society do we want to live in? And, what we are willing to do to make that society happen?
I’d also recommend that after seeing Citizenfour you watch the talk by Laura Poitras and Jacob Appelbaum “Reconstructing narratives – transparency in the service of justice” and Appelbaum’s lecture on the militarization of the Internet “To Protect And Infect“.
You can download this film or watch it online.