Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Watching You: ‘Citizenfour’ shares real-life terror

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | March 25th, 2015

Oscar-winning documentary feature “Citizenfour” is a you-are-there record of the National Security Agency’s global and domestic surveillance program revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, and what it lacks in cinematic panache it more than makes up for in jaw-dropping urgency and bomb-blast power.

Alan Scherstuhl astutely points out that the movie is “a must-see piece of work even if, in its totality, it's underwhelming as argument or cinema.” The movie earns its accolades for right place/right time history in the making, as filmmaker and activist Laura Poitras, who feared that her footage might be seized by the United States government, sits down face-to-face with Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room.

Poitras was contacted by Snowden prior to his release of the NSA documents and the filmmaker’s decision not to insert herself more directly into the content of the movie is a bold and surprising choice in an industry where documentarians routinely brand themselves as marketable first-person characters.

Although she remains offscreen, Poitras is still a vital presence in the unfolding story. She narrates some of her electronic messages to and from Snowden. Her camera functions not as a fly on the wall but rather as an active participant. The result allows the viewer nerve-jangling access to the principal agents and their conversations.

In the room with Poitras and Snowden are Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill on behalf of The Guardian, and the filmmaker records much of the rapidly unfolding drama by assembling both the narrative substance of Snowden’s revelations and the metanarrative commentary emerging from discussions between the journalists and Snowden as they strategize behind the scenes.

Snowden’s desire to stay ahead of both the media and the moves of the U.S. government leads to fascinating debate that ponders how to avoid making Snowden himself the “story,” even as the writers anticipate the coming flood of international interest in the young man.

The exchanges between Greenwald, the U.S.-born lawyer and political commentator, and Snowden are electrifying. We look on as the two men challenge and test one another. Whether deliberate or not, Poitras alludes to the way in which – at this particular moment in time – each needs something the other possesses.

Sometimes, the back-and-forth leans toward paranoid incredulity, but Snowden continues to offer compelling evidence in support of his claims. The Greenwald/Snowden dialogue offers unprecedented entry to vital knowledge regarding the iceberg of state-sanctioned spying on its own populace, even if we are just seeing the tip.

“Citizenfour” has been classified as non-fiction, but plays a lot like a Hollywood conspiracy thriller. The legacy of Snowden, which is still very much being written, begins with the premise that the rise and ubiquity of digital technology has made the collection of previously private data, from the contents of phone calls to every website visited and every purchase made, the once-secret prerogative of the agencies that form our government.

At one point in the film, Snowden says, “"We all have a stake in this. This is our country and the balance of power between the citizenry and the government is becoming that of the ruling and the ruled as opposed to actually, you know, the elected and the electorate.”

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

Predatory Capitalism Breeds Predatory Medical CareSurvival in the animal world depends upon who eats who. Wolf packs in Yellowstone chase down the oldest weakest elk and kill with a chokehold. African lion prides select the oldest…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Writer Rita Kalnejais adapts the script of her own 2012 play “Babyteeth,” and Shannon Murphy, delivering her feature directorial debut, guides a fantastic ensemble of performers to success in what could have been an…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“We have forgotten history for one reason and, if we are not careful, we will neglect it for another…When exactly was the ‘again’ in (President Trump’s) slogan ‘Make America Great Again?’Hint:It is the same ‘again’…