Podcast 46: You ARE Being Watched: CITIZENFOUR


In 2013, Edward Snowden reached out to filmmaker Laura Poitras because of her history of uncompromising documentary filmmaking. He knew she had long been a target of government surveillance and was confident she would not be easily intimidated.

Citizenfour (Snowden’s handle in his secret correspondences with Poitras) places us in a Hong Kong hotel room with Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald as the young whistleblower shares knowledge and evidence of illegal mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).

As HBO’s own synopsis says: “After seeing the film, viewers will never think the same way about their phone, e-mail, credit cards, web browser or digital footprint again.”


Citizenfour is an extraordinary document, a one-of-a-kind record of history in the making. Filmmaker Laura Poitras brings us into that Hong Kong hotel room with her and Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, and you feel their tension, their passion and uncertainty. We are with them as the world seems to crumble around them, as domestic civilians and foreign nations react in horror to Snowden’s revelations of America’s transgressions.

It’s a non-fiction le Carre novel, grounded in the banality of one man’s life. In juxtaposing the great and the mundane, the earth-shaking and the small, the film tells a global story with unflinching intimacy.

There’s nothing else like this. Highly recommended.


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