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In January 2013 the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras received some anonymous emails. The sender: Citizenfour. A young employee at a security firm was behind the pseudonym. His name is John Edward „Ed“ Snowden and he wanted to inform the world ...


In January 2013 the Berlin-based American documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY and THE OATH) received anonymous emails on the subject of widespread global surveillance. The sender: Citizenfour. Behind the pseudonym was a young employee at the NSA by the name of John Edward „Ed“ Snowden. He wanted to inform the world about how privacy as we know it is being destroyed in the name of security. Accompanied by British journalist Glenn Greenwald, Poitras meets Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room where they orchestrate the disclosures day by day. At first Greenwald publishes individual stories, and, before the NSA can reveal his identity, Snowden outs himself as the “whistleblower.” CITIZENFOUR shows the well-known events from an entirely new perspective. Poitras has the camera in Snowden’s hotel room when the news about the scandal erupts, when the conspirators discuss if and when Snowden should out himself, and when Snowden goes public. Laura Poitras’ film is not an independent documentary on Snowden but rather part of the campaign to disclose the biggest political scandal of the twenty first century. She shows Snowden’s conscious decision to put his political consciousness above his own personal security and its consequences. Once the process is on track, Snowden is seen standing next to the bed in his hotel room, a room he can now no longer leave, and says, “It’s liberating, too, because you can only make one decision at a time and then roll with it.”

Hendrike Bake


D/USA 2014
Language: English, German
Genre: Documentary
Director: Laura Poitras
Author: Laura Poitras
DOP: Laura Poitras
Montage: Mathilde Bonnefoy
Distributor: Piffl
Release: 06.11.2014



  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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