Today The Ridenhour Prizes announced that Academy Award–nominated documentary CITIZENFOUR, directed by Laura Poitras, will receive the 2015 Documentary Film Prize. The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize is conferred to films of exemplary merit to "encourage those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice, or illuminate a more just vision of society."
In reflecting upon its decision, the awards committee said, "In CITIZENFOUR Laura Poitras captured a—and very possibly the—seminal moment in the history of the American surveillance state, brilliantly documenting those tense hours spent with Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room. Poitras's risk-taking work reveals the magnitude of Snowden's whistleblowing while sustaining high-tension drama as it happened. We commend Poitras's extraordinary bravery throughout the long, difficult reporting process for this unique story, and we're pleased to award her the 2015 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize for the unforgettable and stunningly cinematic CITIZENFOUR."
CITIZENFOUR provides a first-hand account of Edward Snowden's disclosure of the NSA's mass surveillance program. The film documents the initial contact the former NSA contractor had with director Laura Poitras via anonymous, encrypted email messages, and the whistleblower's history-making disclosures that revealed chilling evidence of a worldwide web of mass surveillance. Poitras's film unfolds to show the headline-making events that followed as Snowden went public with his leaks, fleeing to Hong Kong, and eventually settling into a life in exile in Moscow.
In praising the significance of the film, Edward Snowden said that Poitras "focuses on the fact that there are many other players in the game. Ultimately, it's not a film about me, it's a film about us. It's about this moment—it's about this journey that we all went through."
"We're honored to receive this award, which recognizes a legacy of whistleblowers and adversarial journalism," said Laura Poitras. "This film and our NSA reporting would not have been possible without the work of the Free Software community that builds free tools to communicate privately. The prize money for the award will be given to the TAILS Free Software project."
CITIZENFOUR will be awarded the 2015 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize on Wednesday, April 29th. Click here to learn more about The Ridenhour Prizes.