August 14, 2015


Featuring Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Katy Scoggin. Directed by Laura Poitras. (2014, 113 min).

Unless my wife drags me kicking & screaming from the house for an outdoor excursion, scarcely a day goes by when I don't use the internet, be it for work, writing or recreation. I'm using it as we speak. Like most of you, I take it for granted and have a reasonable expectation of privacy when doing research, conversing with others or simply playing around. While I don't engage in anything illegal or naughty behavior that would land me in divorce court, I'm not crazy about the idea that everything I do online is being monitored by a higher power. Hell, even my TV is connected to the internet, meaning somebody somewhere would know if I suddenly decided to download Debbie Does Dallas. Yeah, I suppose I've always suspected my online time was never truly private, but having it confirmed by Citizenfour is still somewhat unnerving.

I generally don't consider myself paranoid (I know for a fact everyone's out to get me), but this film has me thinking maybe I should be. The NSA is apparently able to keep tabs on every computer and cell phone in the world, all in the interest of national security. Computer expert and former CIA employee Edward Snowden knew this and decided to go public, releasing countless classified NSA documents related to their surveillance activities. Well-aware of the threat to his freedom and safety, Snowden reached out to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald in advance, meeting them in Hong Kong before spilling the beans on camera. With Citizenfour, we're essentially watching this worldwide scandal as it's unfolding.

Some guys simply aren't able to grasp the concept of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

The implications suggested by this documentary are pretty disturbing, especially since we're left with the sinking feeling that not much has changed (other than Snowden being charged with treason and forced to seek asylum in Russia). If you're even the slightest bit paranoid, Citizenfour might just have you running for the hills. As for me, it provides even further justification for refusing to ever carry a cell phone.


  • Deleted Scenes
  • Discussion with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden & David Carr
  • Film Society of Lincoln Center Q&A 
  • "The Program" (a short by Laura Poitras)


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