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“I go by Ed”: “CITIZENFOUR” to Humanize Edward Snowden?

"I go by Ed": "CITIZENFOUR" to Humanize Edward Snowden?

In the new teaser trailer just released for Laura Poitras’ long-awaited look at whistleblower Edward Snowden, the clip offers a very, very brief glimpse of the new documentary. One of the main things that stands out — also reflected in the film’s main image on promotional materials — is the way in which Snowden appears like a regular old bloke. “I go by Ed,” he says, speaking to two hungry journalists looking for answers. With Snowden called everything from a traitor to a hero to a terrorist, I suspect “CITIZENFOUR” — so named for Snowden’s alias during his early correspondences with Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald — will transform Snowden from shape-shifting phantom to human being.

If you consider Poitras’ previously acclaimed films, “My Country, My Country” and “The Oath,” she is just as much adept at creating sympathetic character portraits as political analyses of complex situations. In fact, that is what ultimately makes Poitras’ work stand apart from the dozens of docs about Iraq or terrorism. Expect “CITIZENFOUR” to be as much about Snowden, the man, as the surveillance State apparatus.

Here’s an official synopsis: “In June 2013, she and Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes.” 

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