Edward Snowden doc ‘CITIZENFOUR’ leaks to New York Film Festival before release

The New York Film Festival told us its main slate. We believed it. But it was hiding something.

Revealed in an official press release (by an NYFF whistleblower??), Oscar-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras”s Edward Snowden documentary “CITIZENFOUR” has been added to the festival's Main Slate line-up. The hush-hush film will have its world premiere Friday, October 10. The general public won't have to wait long to get its hands on the document: RADiUS, in association with Participant Media and HBO Films, will release the film on Oct. 24.

According to the festival's update, Poitras was in-deep on a film about national security abuse in post-9/11 America when she was contacted via encrypted e-mails by “citizen four,” an NSA insider aiming to blow the lid off the government agency's covert surveillance program. She took the message seriously. Five months later, Poitras and “The Guardian” reporter Glenn Greenwald were sitting in Hong Kong, chatting with “citizen four” a.k.a. Edward Snowden. Not one to leave her camera at home, the documentarian captured everything.

“Seeing 'CITIZENFOUR' for the first time is an experience I”ll never forget,” said New York Film Festival Director Kent Jones, in the press release statement. “The film operates on multiple levels at the same time: a character study, a real-life suspense story, and a chilling exposé. When the lights came up, everyone in the room was alternately stunned, excited, and deeply troubled. A brave documentary, but also a powerful work from a master storyteller.”

Poitras's previous films include “Flag Wars” (2003), My Country, My Country (2006), nominated for the Best Documentary Academy Award, and “The Oath” (2010). “CITIZENFOUR” is executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, David Menschel, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, and HBO”s Sheila Nevins. Following the New York Film Festival premiere, the film will debut at the London Film Festival on Oct. 17.