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.