I recall reading about Edward Snowden‘s revelations concerning the NSA and the surveillance apparatus only AFTER he arrived and set up camp in Hong Kong. The reality for me was that despite living in the US all my life, I knew far more about Hong Kong than I did about either Snowden or ‘big brother IS listening’.
That said, I spoke to a trusted source who said he had seen Citizenfour and considered it one the best films he had seen in quite some time. So to get this review up and running with only a little more background, I had spent about 4 plus days in South Carolina during the week before last week. But I left Beaufort, SC, on Saturday the 21st of February, to make the 425 mile drive back to Sarasota, so I’d be sure to be home for the Oscar broadcast last Sunday night.
When they announced that Citizenfour had won the Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary I learned the name Laura Poitras. Hers was not a name that I knew. In fact, before Citizenfour, I was completely unfamiliar with any of her works. For the record, I had no knowledge of the names Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, or William Binney either.
Then I was lucky enough to be able to see Citizenfour the very next day, Monday the 23rd when it aired on HBO.
What I did know was the Mira Hong Kong Hotel. The hotel is located on the corner of Kimberly Road and Nathan Road, literally just a few steps from the most northerly exit of the Tsim Sha Tsui, MTR stop in Kowloon. I’d walked past the hotel on numerous occasions and I’m sure it was conceivable that I might have gazed up, at the upper floors of this hotel,where much of the film was shot, from standing on either a walking path in Kowloon Park (across the street from the hotel), or from the corner of Haiphong Road and Nathan Road, where the MTR exit was, and just 3 very short blocks away.
For me, the impact of the film was far greater than whether or not the film was either entertaining, or something to see for its style or amazing cinematography. The fact is that Poitras’s film showed, at least to me, what I hadn’t previously known. Yes I knew that Edward Snowden had revealed via copied documents, the inner workings of the security and surveillance apparatus ; and when he touched down in Hong Kong – it made the front page of newspapers all over the world.