Many documentaries seek to kick-start environmental movements, reverse death row sentences or even change legislative policy.
But few come with the kind of ideological ambition of the Edward Snowden study “Citizenfour,” a movie of grand scope that also tells an intimate personal story.
The long-awaited documentary from Snowden chronicler Laura Poitras arrived with a bang at its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Friday night, receiving a rare festival standing ovation ahead of its theatrical release Oct. 24, when it could well jolt both the fall moviegoing season and the national conversation about privacy and security.
Poitras, as some may recall, shot the 12-minute video of Snowden that went viral in June 2013 and made the National Security Agency contractor, at 29, perhaps the most important and polarizing figure since Daniel Ellsberg. “Citizenfour” is, in effect, that original video effort writ very large — a look at how Snowden came to the decision to pull back the curtain on the NSA’s massive surveillance operation and what happened to him when he did.