Snowden's story induces paranoia

Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour, that was awarded an Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature this year, was screened by FD Zone (Film Division) Delhi for the first time in the city at the India Habitat Centre over the weekend.

Oscar winning and critically acclaimed films which are hard to find in stores and even online are showcased for free by FD Zone. This time it was the edition 19 of FD Zone in Delhi. The documentary is about Edward Snowden’s fight against the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal in the United States. The film chronicles filmmaker Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s (The Guardian) encounters with Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of illegal invasion of privacy by the 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. The filming mostly takes place in a room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside and are forced to take quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them.

The film explores the relationship between state surveillance, individual privacy and citizenship and also brings into focus how the government of the United States and private telecom corporations work together, resulting in an ‘Orwellian State’, unknown to its citizens.
The film is able to induce paranoia in the viewers, when one realises that their ‘privacy which is the only substitute for true freedom’ in the modern day, is under threat. One believes Snowden’s words as he articulates the nature of his job and how his position in the NSA let him retrieve all the information about people, which is most personal.

The film ends with a hope that Poitras will continue to document Snowden’s story and reveal NSA’s work to the public.

The NSA reporting by Poitras and other journalists in the matter contributed to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded jointly to The Guardian and The Washington Post.


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