Cinema Simply Different

An inconspicuous man is sitting in a hotel room. Joining him are three journalists: «What was your name again?» – «My name is Edward Snowden – but they call me Ed.» No one yet suspects that this name will soon be known to almost anyone, let alone be the title of a blockbuster. It is the beginning of a curious story; a spark about to ignite a fire called surveillance scandal.


Filmmaker Laura Poitras is doing research on surveillance in the US, when an encrypted message reaches her and promises delicate information about the National Security Agency (NSA). Months later, she is meeting up with the anonymous Citizenfour in that very hotel room in Hong Kong. She first-hand learns what will later become known in history as one of the biggest scandals of the 21st century: the American government surveils its citizens on a grand scale. Instead of providing social emancipation, technological progress suddenly becomes freedom’s enemy number one.


Together with Poitras we experience this memorable moment first hand, as we watch how telephones, tabs and screens turn into the enemy, how «Ed» himself handles his sudden fame and how journalists, too, suddenly become an international target.


Christine Albrecht, translated by Alicia Schümperli

Other films in this program