A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The euphemistic language of governments has always been a primary feature of their lexicon. It appears that there has never been a more significant era than the present, where words such as “protection” can stand for invasion and intrusive surveillance, denying millions the right to protected freedom of speech, at least from a technological standpoint.
There have been those who have publicly blown a whistle towards the public, exposing the truth of it all with an intensely high level of risk, and without the likes of Snowden, Poitras and Assange, we would continue to remain none the wiser. The modern age is a scary place. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, so much so that we as a species have fallen behind, growing increasingly unaware of the capabilities of our government and the tools implemented in their “protection” of us.
The events of September 2001 brought a new focus on protection and surveillance, and to avoid history repeating itself, one can see the means for cyber-monitoring and watchfulness. It seems however, that the lengths some intelligence agencies have gone to are very much illegal; “Citizenfour” tells the story from an important much needed perspective.
After receiving an encrypted email in 2013 from a stranger referring to himself as ‘Citizen Four’, filmmaker Laura Poitras sets out to locate the stranger and gather significant information over a series of meetings with him.
The stranger in question was Edward Snowden, a computer professional who had previously worked for the CIA, DIA and NSA. Over the several meetings with Snowden from a hotel room in Hong Kong, the audience grow to understand the significance of the matter at hand and the immensely risky lengths those involved go to bring the truth to the public.
The documentary travels from The U.S to Germany, Belgium, China and many other locations to follow events that transpired involving reporters, agents and Snowden himself.
I received a message from my brother via Facebook just a couple of days ago. It read “Just watched Citizenfour…incredible. Beyond best documentary, the best movie I’ve seen in ages. Truth is stranger than fiction!” After seeing the documentary myself and realising that many intelligence agencies know my brother saw it too, I must say that it was a chillingly real experience.
For a member of Generation Y, a film such as “Citizenfour” speaks out to vigilantly remind us of two things; that there are people such as Snowden who take it upon themselves to bring the corrupt truth to the surface, but at the same time, as we grow older, the level of security and punishment are bound to become more severe.
It is clear that not all is right in the world today, and through the conflicting nature of the documentary, it’s hard to think about anything else, at least for a while after watching.
“Citizenfour” picked up the OSCAR for “Best Documentary Feature” this year, and deservingly so. It’s an important piece of filmmaking that stands for a lot of issues today.
Backtracking to my brother’s statement on the truth being stranger than fiction, “Citizenfour” could have easily produced the synopsis for a fictitious modern-day espionage thriller, but funnily enough, there’s nothing fictitious about it. I highly recommend “Citizenfour” to anybody interested in government issues, technology, world news or even the nature of protection – whatever that is.
It’s a brilliantly simplistic feature that addresses all the important subjects whilst making you think about your own activity, choices and sense of sanctuary in today’s cyber age.