Citizenfour

As various parties race to get out the first Edward Snowden biopic, the first Edward Snowden movie has already premiered. Laura Poitras‘ documentary Citizenfour debuted at the New York Film Festival over the weekend and while it won’t hit theaters for another couple of weeks, we have the first Citizenfour trailer to share with you in the meantime.

The title of the movie comes from the codename Snowden used to sign his emails to Poitras when he first contacted her. The filmmaker was already deep into work on a documentary about post-9/11 surveillance when she got his messages. Together with journalist Glenn Greenwald, she worked with Snowden to release information to the NSA’s covert surveillance programs in 2013. Watch the Citizenfour trailer, plus the Citizenfour NYFF Q&A panel, after the jump.

The first Citizenfour trailer appeared on YouTube.

The subject matter is undoubtedly important, and happily it turns out the film itself is pretty great too. Citizenfour, which was executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, got excellent reviews at the festival. THR declared it “one of the major and defining documentaries of recent times,” while Screen Daily says it’s “quite possibly the strongest documentary about secret state intervention in private lives.”

Citizenfour lands in theaters October 24.

CITIZENFOUR is the never before seen, utterly riveting first-person look at how director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald first met with whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong where he gave them documents showing widespread abuses of power by the National Security Administration. It is an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall account of one of the most groundbreaking moments in recent history.

In January 2013, Poitras (recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship and co-recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service) was several years into making a film about surveillance in the post-9/11 era when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four,” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes.

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