Watch: As part of our NetGain event on February 11, the foundation hosted a screening of CITIZENFOUR, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Laura Poitras and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner and moderated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer.


In January 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras received an e-mail with a disturbing revelation: Americans were being subjected to mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, and her correspondent (identified only as “CITIZENFOUR”) had documents to prove it. Poitras flew to Hong Kong to meet the whistleblower and film their conversations, capturing revelations that fueled an urgent, contentious debate about individual privacy and national security that continues today.

Last night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored CITIZENFOUR, the extraordinary film Poitras crafted from that footage, with an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. CITIZENFOUR received major support from the foundation’s JustFilms and Internet Rights initiatives, and we are thrilled to see Poitras’s visionary work receive such a high-profile recognition—one we know will bring even more viewers to her powerful documentary, and more voices to the critical conversation around it.

CITIZENFOUR exemplifies the kind of cinema that JustFilms was created to support,” says Cara Mertes, director of JustFilms. “The film and its making embody the importance of free expression, the value of aesthetic integrity, and the power of the artist’s voice—in this case informing a global discussion about the future of democracy in the Internet age.”

Jenny Toomey, director of Internet Rights, reflects, “Only a year and a half ago, the organizations we support who do the extremely difficult work of fighting for privacy rights had a hard time even explaining the danger of surveillance—much less making a case for reforms. Because of this film that’s no longer the case. I’m so proud of Laura and her team for playing a role in breaking and telling this story in a way that allows anyone in the world to hear and understand it.”

Congratulations to the entire CITIZENFOUR team on this well-deserved honor!


More Information

Some ideas for how to fight back against mass untargeted surveillance, from our partners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.