I doubt many folks will see this film, Citizenfour. And, while I am disgusted with what Edward Snowden did to compromise our national security and the safety of our assets and those of our allies, it was fascinating to see just how it came down. I will say right off, I am a firm believer in personal rights, however, there many things only a government can do to protect a nation and many of those need to be done covertly. Ironically freedom of the press many times may be the down fall of many of our freedoms. Personally, I don't want to know what the CIA and the NSA are doing - that is what I pay my taxes for - so I can sleep at night. If I was doing something nefarious then perhaps I would be so concerned about a conspiracy. But I digress.
Laura Poitras began receiving encrypted emails from someone going by the name of "Citizenfour" saying he had evidence of illegal worldwide covert surveillance program. She finally met with him (Citizenfour ended up being Edward Snowden - the rest is history). She filmed the initial meetings - with everyone's consent. She directed this film about Snowden coming forth with his information and making it public. But unlike earlier Hollywood movies such as The Fifth Estate about Julian Assange staring Benedict Cumberbatch - this one stars Edward Snowden as well as Glen Greenwald and Ewin MacAskill the Guardian reporters who broke the story. We see Snowden (as it was happening) in his hotel room in Hong Kong going over some of what he has, explaining why he is doing what he is doing. We watch him answer questions and the three of them carefully craft what will initially be released.
It is an interesting insight into this young man's head, watching his hands run through his short hair as he ponders his decision. He never questions it. It is obvious he has been very thoughtful in coming to the decision to leak these documents. More importantly he does not want to become the story.
This is truly a unique concept. Image if there had been someone with a camera in the basement of that parking garage when Woodward and Bernstein met with Deep Throat. Instead of All The President's Men, there would have been a documentary with film clips of the play by play of what the two did, the decisions that were made, how the logistics were handled, with Deep Throat in silhouette no less. Here we see it played out on the world's stage from the hotel room where it all starts before anyone knows where it is coming from and how much more there is to come.
Fact is truly more fascinating than fiction.