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    * Laura Poitras *

    لارا پویتراس

    (Wikipedia) - Laura Poitras Laura Poitras Born Alma mater Occupation Website
    Laura Poitras in 2014
    1964 Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    The New School (B.A., 1996)
    Film director

    Laura Poitras (born 1964) is an American documentary film director and producer residing in Berlin.

    Poitras has received numerous awards for her work. Her 2006 documentary, My Country, My Country, was nominated for an Academy Award. She won the 2013 George Polk Award for "national security reporting" related to the NSA disclosures. The NSA reporting by Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Barton Gellman contributed to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service awarded jointly to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

    She is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow, and one of the initial supporters of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.



    Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Laura Poitras is the middle daughter of Patricia "Pat" Poitras and James "Jim" Poitras, who in 2007 donated $20 million to found The Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research at McGovern Institute for Brain Research, part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her parents keep a home in Massachusetts, but live mostly in Orlando, Florida. Her sisters are Christine Poitras, an ESL teacher; and Jennifer Poitras, a disaster response planner and consultant.

    Growing up, Laura planned to become a chef, and spent several years as a cook at L''Espalier, a French restaurant located in Boston''s Back Bay neighborhood. However, after finishing Sudbury Valley School, where there were no grades and no division of students by age, she moved to San Francisco and lost interest in becoming a chef. Instead she studied at the San Francisco Art Institute with experimental filmmaker Ernie Gehr. In 1992, Poitras moved to New York to pursue filmmaking. In 1996, she graduated from The New School for Public Engagement with a bachelor''s degree.


    Poitras co-directed, produced, and shot her 2003 documentary, Flag Wars, about gentrification in Columbus, Ohio. It earned a Peabody Award, Best Documentary at both the 2003 South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and the Filmmaker Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The film also launched the 2003 PBS POV series. It was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award and a 2004 Emmy Award.

    Poitras''s other films include O'' Say Can You See... (2003) and Exact Fantasy (1995). Her 2006 film My Country, My Country, about life for Iraqis under U.S. occupation, was nominated for an Academy Award. Her 2010 film The Oath, about two Yemeni men caught up in America''s War on Terror, won the Excellence in Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The two films are parts of a trilogy. The third part Citizenfour from 2014 details how the War on Terror increasingly focuses on Americans through surveillance, covert activities, and attacks on whistleblowers.

    Laura Poitras - PopTech 2010 - Camden, Maine

    On August 22, 2012, in a forum of short documentaries produced by independent filmmakers, The New York Times published an "Op-doc" produced by Poitras entitled The Program. It is preliminary work that will be included in a documentary planned for release as the final part of the trilogy. The documentary is based on interviews with William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency, who became a whistleblower and described the details of the Stellar Wind project that he helped to design. He states that the program he worked on had been designed for foreign espionage, but was converted in 2001 to spying on citizens in the United States, prompting concerns by him and others that the actions were illegal and unconstitutional and that led to their disclosures.

    The Program implies that a facility being built at Bluffdale, Utah is part of domestic surveillance, intended for storage of massive amounts of data collected from a broad range of communications that may be mined readily for intelligence without warrants. Poitras reported that on October 29, 2012 the United States Supreme Court would hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that were used to authorize the creation of such facilities and justify such actions.

    Government surveillance

    Poitras has been subject to monitoring by the US Government. After completing My Country, My Country, Poitras claims, "I''ve been placed on the Department of Homeland Security''s (DHS) watch list" and have been notified by airport security "that my ''threat rating'' was the highest the Department of Homeland Security assigns". She says her work has been hampered by constant harassment by border agents during more than three dozen border crossings into and out of the United States. She has been detained for hours and interrogated and agents have seized her computer, cell phone and reporters notes and not returned them for weeks. Once she was threatened with being refused entry back into the United States. In response to a Glenn Greenwald article about this, a group of film directors started a petition to protest the government''s actions against her. In April 2012 Poitras was interviewed about surveillance on Democracy Now! and called elected leaders'' behavior "shameful."

    Global surveillance disclosuresPlay mediaEdward Snowden speaks about the NSA leaks, in Hong Kong, filmed by Laura Poitras.

    In 2013 Poitras was one of the initial three journalists to meet Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and to receive copies of the leaked NSA documents. Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald are the only two people with full archives of the NSA, according to Greenwald.

    Poitras helped to produce stories exposing previously secret U.S. intelligence activities, which earned her the 2013 Polk award and contributed to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service awarded jointly to The Guardian and The Washington Post. She later worked with Jacob Appelbaum and writers and editors at Der Spiegel to cover disclosures about mass surveillance, particularly those relating to NSA activity in Germany.

    She filmed, edited, and produced Channel 4''s alternative to the Royal Christmas Message by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, the "Alternative Christmas Message", featuring Edward Snowden.

    In October 2013 Poitras joined with reporters Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill to establish an on-line investigative journalism publishing venture funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar''s "concern about press freedoms in the US and around the world" sparked the idea for the new media outlet. The first publication from that group, a digital magazine called The Intercept, launched on 10 February 2014. Poitras, Greenwald, and Scahill all serve as editors.

    On March 21, 2014, Poitras joined Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman via Skype on a panel at the Sources and Secrets Conference to discuss the legal and professional threats to journalists covering national security surveillance and whistleblower stories, like that of Edward Snowden. Poitras was asked if she would hazard an entry into the United States and she responded that she planned to attend an April 11 event, regardless of the legal or professional threats posed by US authorities. Poitras and Greenwald returned to the US to receive their awards unimpeded.

    In May 2014, Poitras was reunited with Edward Snowden in Moscow along with journalist Glenn Greenwald.

    1971 documentary

    1971 is a documentary film co-produced by Laura Poitras. The film, about the 1971 Media, Pennsylvania raid of FBI offices, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2014.

    Citizenfour (2014)Poitras introducing her film Citizenfour at the IFC Center in NYC on opening night.Play mediaThe film trailer for Citizenfour

    In September 2014, the Associated Press reported that Citizenfour, a documentary about Edward Snowden, would premiere on October 10 at the New York Film Festival. Earlier that year, Poitras told the AP she was editing the film in Berlin because she feared her source material would be seized by the government inside the U.S. Film executive Harvey Weinstein said Citizenfour had changed his opinion about Edward Snowden, describing the documentary as "one of the best movies, period." The film is distributed in the U.S. by RADiUS-TWC, a division of The Weinstein Company, which is co-owned by Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein.

    In an interview with the Washington Post about Citizenfour shortly before the film''s release, Poitras said that she considered herself to be the narrator of the film but made a choice not to be seen on camera: "I come from a filmmaking tradition where I''m using the camera—it''s my lens to express the filmmaking I do. In the same way that a writer uses their language, for me it''s the images that tell the story ... the camera is my tool for documenting things, so I stay mostly behind it."

    Awards Selected filmography
    • Exact Fantasy (1995)
    • Flag Wars (2003)
    • Oh Say Can You See... (2003)
    • My Country, My Country (2006)
    • The Oath (2010)
    • CITIZENFOUR (2014)

    Tags:AP, American, Associated Press, Berlin, Boston, Brain, Christmas, Department of Homeland Security, Der Spiegel, Edward Snowden, FBI, Florida, Freedom of the Press Foundation, French, Germany, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, Hong Kong, Laura Poitras, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media, Moscow, NSA, National Security Agency, New York, New York Times, Pennsylvania, Pierre Omidyar, Post, Pulitzer Prize, Queen Elizabeth, San Francisco, Skype, Stern, Sundance Film Festival, Terror, The Guardian, US, United States, Washington, Washington Post, Website, Wikipedia, eBay

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