Wednesday, February 25, 2015


CITIZENFOUR won the Oscar Sunday night, and filmmaker, Laura Poitras, deserved the win and gave a good acceptance speech though her nervousness and self consciousness made it come out a little stiffly. As others have observed, what makes her film work is her falling into a major story (or actually being chosen by Snowden because of her previous films) by being present for and filming the most dramatic part of the story's timeline, i.e. the exposure by Edward Snowden of the massive spying on U.S. citizens being done by government agencies (here and in the U.K. as well) and then the exposure of Snowden himself as the source of the whistle blowing and the permanent altering of his life and his future as a result.

As we all know, Sowden is stuck in Russia, (ironically, since Putin's government is worse than our government in terms of repressing political activism partly through the collection of personal information on private citizens) because it is one of the only countries that would have him, just to demonstrate their independence from the USA. There's a good chance if Russia hadn't taken him in he'd have been at worst "disappeared" or at best brought back to the USA to face a trial based on a too broad almost century-old law that would have put him behind bars for the rest of his life, a sacrifice he was willing to make if necessary to let the rest of us know we were being spied on and lied to about it.

It's an almost accidentally great documentary, just as Snowden seems to be an almost accidentally heroic figure, in the right place at the right time with the right beliefs about our freedoms supposedly guaranteed by The Constitution and the courage to act on those beliefs. Snowden is a true "American hero." Any politician who doesn't get that is suspicious and should be called out whenever they speechify about the freedom we citizens of the USA supposedly have.

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