NYFF, LFF to premiere Laura Poitras’s Edward Snowden doc

Updated: Citizenfour (pictured), Laura Poitras's long-awaited and secretive documentary on global surveillance, has been added as a last-minute world premiere to the New York Film Festival's main slate.
September 16, 2014

UPDATED SEPT. 17: The film will have its UK premiere at the BFI London Film Festival on October 17 and will be released in UK cinemas on October 31, via Artificial Eye, the Britdoc Foundation and Film4.

PREVIOUSLY: Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s long-awaited and secretive documentary on global surveillance, has been added as a last-minute world premiere to the New York Film Festival’s main slate.

Unveiling details of the film today (September 16), the festival said the highly anticipated film would be a character study of former NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden (pictured above) that is part “real-life suspense story” and part “chilling exposé.”

The film, exec produced by Steven Soderbergh, will have its world premiere as a Special Presentation on October 10, with Poitras participating in a free HBO Directors Dialogue talk the following day. Participant Media, HBO and RADiUS have U.S. rights to the film, which RADiUS will release Stateside on October 24.

The doc will act as the third film in a trilogy of non-fiction works looking at the post-9/11 era in the U.S., following 2006′s Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country, and 2010′s Sundance-winning The Oath.

Though Poitras made her name as documentarian, she is now best known for her work in helping bring Snowden’s intelligence reporting to the American public, having written and filmed pieces for The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post that have won her a Pulitzer Prize. She was honored by realscreen as a Trailblazer at the start of the year.

In January 2013, she was several years into the making of a film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from a person himself as “citizen four,” later revealing himself as Snowden, who wanted to reveal details of massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

“Seeing Citizenfour for the first time is an experience I’ll never forget,” said New York Film Festival director Kent Jones in a statement, “The film operates on multiple levels at the same time: a character study [of Snowden], a real-life suspense story and a chilling exposé.

“When the lights came up, everyone in the room was alternately stunned, excited, and deeply troubled. A brave documentary, but also a powerful work from a master storyteller.”

The running time for the film is still TBD, and it is unclear at present whether RADiUS’s October launch for the film will qualify it for consideration for the 2015 Academy Awards.

This is believed to be the first time that the NYFF, now in its 52nd year, has added a film to its Main Slate after having announced its line-up.

About The Author