POITRAS Laura
Person
POITRAS Laura

POITRAS
Laura

American director

Date of Birth: 2 February 1964
person_view.holiday: Groundhog Day

Age: 60 years old

Zodiac sign: Aquarius

Profession: Director

Content

Biography

Laura Poitras is an American director and producer of documentary films.

Poitras has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden, while My Country, My Country received a nomination in the same category in 2007. 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. In 2022, her documentary film, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which explores the career of Nan Goldin and the fall of the Sackler family, was awarded the Golden Lion, making it the second documentary to win the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, 2012 MacArthur Fellow, the creator of Field of Vision, and one of the initial supporters of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. She was awarded the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard's Nieman Foundation in 2014.

Poitras was one of the founding editors of the online newspaper, The Intercept. On November 30, 2020, Poitras was fired by First Look Media, the parent company of The Intercept, allegedly in relation to the Reality Winner controversy.

Career

Poitras co-directed, produced, and shot her documentary, Flag Wars (2003), about gentrification in Columbus, Ohio. It received 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 launched the 2003 season of the PBS TV series POV. It was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award and a 2004 Emmy Award.[25] Poitras's other early films include O' Say Can You See... (2003) and Exact Fantasy (1995).[25]

Her film My Country, My Country (2006), about life for Iraqis under U.S. occupation, was nominated for an Academy Award. The Oath (2010), concerns 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.[26] The two films form parts of a trilogy. The last third Citizenfour (2014) details how the War on Terror increasingly focuses on Americans through surveillance, covert activities, and attacks on whistleblowers.

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.[27][28] It was preliminary work that was to be included in a documentary planned for release as the final part of the trilogy. The documentary was 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 stated 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 implied 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 could 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.

In 2012, Poitras took an active part in the three-month exposition of Whitney Biennial exhibition of contemporary American art.

Government surveillance

Poitras has been subject to monitoring by the U.S. Government, which she speculates is because of a wire transfer she sent in 2006 to Riyadh al-Adhadh, the Iraqi medical doctor and Sunni political candidate who was the subject of her 2006 documentary My Country, My Country. 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 on this issue, a group of film directors began a petition to protest against the government's actions towards her. In April 2012, Poitras was interviewed about surveillance on Democracy Now! and called elected leaders' behavior "shameful".

2015 lawsuit over government harassment

In January 2014, Poitras filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to learn the reason for being searched, detained and interrogated on multiple occasions. After receiving no response to her FOIA request, Poitras filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and other security agencies in July 2015. More than a year later, Poitras received 1,000+ pages of material from the federal government. The documents indicate that Poitras's repeated detainments were due to U.S. government suspicion that she had prior knowledge of a 2004 ambush on U.S. troops in Iraq, an allegation Poitras denies.

Global surveillance disclosures

In 2013, Poitras was one of the initial three journalists to meet Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and to receive copies of leaked NSA documents. Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald are the only two people with full archives of Snowden's leaked NSA documents, 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 later revealed in her documentary Risk that she had a brief romantic relationship with Appelbaum.

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 Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill to establish an on-line investigative journalism publishing venture funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar, which became First Look Media. Omidyar's "concern about press freedoms in the US and around the world" sparked the idea for the new media outlet.[50] The first publication from that group, a digital magazine called The Intercept, launched on February 10, 2014. Poitras stood down from her editorial role in September 2016 to focus on Field of Vision, a First Look Media project focused on non-fiction films.

On March 21, 2014, Poitras joined 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 Snowden in Moscow along with Greenwald.

In September 2021, Yahoo! News reported that in 2017, after the publication of the Vault 7 files by WikiLeaks, "top intelligence officials lobbied the White House" to designate Poitras as an "information broker" to allow for more investigative tools against her, "potentially paving the way" for her prosecution. However, the White House rejected this idea. Poitras told Yahoo! News that such attempts were "bone-chilling and a threat to journalists worldwide."

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