Citizenfour, the film following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leak of the NSA’s domestic spying network won the Oscar on Sunday for best documentary and upon the award, Snowden himself released a statement congratulating filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Snowden released the statement to the Civil Liberties Union, the organization representing him. in the statement, Snowden calls Citizenfour a “brave and brilliant film,” adding that the film “deserves the honor and recognition it has received.”
“My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”
Citizenfour follows the NSA leak in real-time as Snowden fled the U.S. to avoid capture by authorities. Following the leak, Snowden contacted Poitras under the codename “Citizenfour” in an encrypted email before going public with the information.
That information stirred up a hornets nest in the media and in Washington as it was revealed that the NSA had been collecting massive amounts of personal data in the private emails of U.S. citizens.
Poitras, whose film won over The Salt of the Earth, Finding Vivian Maier, and Last Days in Vietnam, gave her acceptance speech alongside journalist Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who covered the Edward Snowden story, and Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.
“The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to also our democracy. When the most important decisions affecting all of us are being made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden, to his courage and many other whistleblowers,”
Snowden’s revelation shocked the nation as the dizzying scope of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program was revealed. For the first time, the American public was acutely aware at the lengths the government had gone to keep tabs on its citizens in the name of security and the war on terror.
As a result, Snowden was forced into hiding by the very administration that promised transparency and promoted the idea of free and open government. Edward Snowden is currently living in Russia in asylum.
Poitras spent eight days in a in a Hong Kong hotel with Edward Snowden, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill, intelligence reporter for The Guardian as they documented the NSA leaks.
“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me,”
At the time of the NSA leaks, Poitras was already working on a documentary regarding the domestic monitoring programs put in place by President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks.