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Backstage Interview Transcript: Documentary (Feature)

CATEGORY: Documentary (Feature)
SPEECH BY: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
FILM: CitizenFour



Q.    Congratulations, first of all.  We have a Facebook fan question for you from (name omitted).  What will you be working on next?

A.    (Laura Poitras) Well, I mean, I don't talk about works in progress ever, so I can't answer that one.  But I'm going to do something for the Whitney Museum, the next thing I know I'm doing. 


Q.    Laura, I think I saw you on the carpet, and you looked like you were having the best time of maybe anybody I saw out there.  Can you tell us about what it means to you to be here and get this recognition and just be in this room with these people?

A.    (Laura Poitras) I mean, honestly, I mean, I was on the Red Carpet with Glenn Greenwald and Dave Miranda and Dirk and Mathilde.  And, you know, no matter what happens today, we've all thought that this has just been an experience of a lifetime.  So, you know, we're here to celebrate an incredible collaboration, and then to have the work recognized by the Academy is a dream come true.


Q.    Congratulations.  Dirk, this question is for you.  I'm over here.  Can you tell us about how you feel tonight, where you're going to put the Oscar, and also who are you going to call first?

A.    (Dirk Wilutzky) I feel proud because what we have done is meaningful and important, and I think it's wonderful that this has been awarded with an Oscar and it means a lot to the film and to what we stand for.  And I don't need to call anybody because Mathilde is right here, and that's exactly where these two Oscars land at home, so...


Q.    Laura, congratulations on an extraordinary film.  It's rare that you see one where the things are actually happening instead of people talking about what happened.  The Academy Award is like the ultimate establishment recognition.  You don't do establishment topics.  Does this change you in any way or does it change the way you get viewed in any way?

A.    (Laura Poitras) No, it actually doesn't really change me.  I mean, we made a film and we didn't make any compromises.  But, you know, I think, actually, the Academy is full of artists and filmmakers, and I think that that's what it's being recognized for, as a film.  So I actually see a lot of, you know, kindred spirit with a lot of the other films that are nominated:  BOYHOOD, GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, BIRDMAN.  Those are really artist‑driven films, so I think it fits right in with those.


Q.    This film was mostly produced in Berlin.  You were not editing this here in the U.S. for obvious reasons.  Can you just, in German, maybe comment on those?

A.    (Dirk Wilutzky) [Speaks in German]


Q.    How will you celebrate this amazing day?  How is it going to end?

A.    (Mathilde Bonnefoy) That's not the kind of ‑‑ we prefer serious questions. 


Q.    Thank you so much in writing this film and for addressing some of the serious issues that it raised.  Unlike a lot of the questions here, I do have a question about the serious issues raised by your film.  I don't know if you heard that clip that Neil made, and I know it's all just in fun, but I'm personally really furious that he compared Snowden to treason.  How do we get this conversation back to what really counts?  All of us are being spied on by our own government and everybody else around the world is under the same threat.  So it's not something that we can joke about, saying he's a traitor.  How can we get the conversation more serious?

A.    (Mathilde Bonnefoy) Well, I think one of the things that one can do is to focus on the person, Snowden, and one of the things that we've tried to do with our film was to show him, to give him a real voice.  And I think when you see him, you understand that his motives were pure and that he was really authentic.  And so once you understand that, you see that it's a young man who has actually decided to end his life as he knew it.  It was an extraordinary act of courage and he was almost ready to die for what he wanted to do.  It's really high stakes.  Once you understand that, you understand that it's really important, and maybe it moves people to ‑‑ it galvanizes people to want to make a personal change.  We've seen that ‑‑ I mean, we've seen at the end of screenings people come to us really moved.

A.    (Laura Poitras) I would add, like in terms of, like, what does it mean in terms of this kind of surveillance.  I mean, all we need to do is look at the Civil Rights Movement and what the FBI did in terms of spying on Martin Luther King and other activists.  I mean, this is what happens when this kind of spying happens and there's no oversight of it.  So I think we should be very concerned with the democracy.





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