By technical editor Matt Allard:
We have heard the old expression “It’s the story that is the most important thing, not the camera you shoot it on” a thousand times, and that absolutely rings true in this case. It’s very easy to get lost in all the new equipment and technological advances in modern day filmmaking. Gear is there for the purpose of helping us tell better stories, but if you have a bad story to begin with, the best camera in the world is not going to make a shred of difference.
CITIZENFOUR was recently awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary. In 2013 Searching for Sugar Man won in the same category and was partially shot on a iPhone, but mostly on Super 8mm film.
Shot on a Sony FS100, CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Poitras had already been working on a film about surveillance for two years when Snowden contacted her, using the name “CITIZENFOUR,” in January 2013. He reached out to her because he knew she had long been a target of government surveillance, stopped at airports numerous times, and had refused to be intimidated. When Snowden revealed he was a high-level analyst driven to expose the massive surveillance of Americans by the NSA, Poitras persuaded him to let her film.
CITIZEN FOUR places the viewer in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside, forced to make quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them.
CITIZENFOUR not only shows you the dangers of governmental surveillance—it makes you feel them. After seeing the film, you will never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or profile, ever again.