Citizenfour” tells the story of whistleblower Edward Snowden, left, who has been denounced as a traitor and hailed as a hero. The documentary will be showing at Star Hall on Thursday, March 19 [Image courtesy of Praxis Films]

If someone shares highly classified government secrets to impress his mistress, he won’t have to worry too much about the consequences. It’s not a big deal.

But when another person does the same thing to shed some light on government surveillance of American citizens, he’s branded a traitor, and he’s forced to live his life on the lam.

The double standard in the way the political establishment treated former CIA chief and decorated general David Petraeus and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden may be obvious to anyone who watches the documentary “Citizenfour.”

The Academy Award-winning film, which follows Snowden as he hands over classified NSA documents to journalist Glenn Greenwald, will be screening for free at Star Hall on Thursday, March 19 at 7 p.m.

“Citizenfour” came about when Snowden contacted filmmaker Laura Poitras using that moniker. At the time, Poitras was in the midst of a two-year project about government surveillance, and Snowden reached out to her because he knew that she shared his concerns about the issue.

When Poitras found out that Snowden was a high-level analyst for an NSA contractor, she convinced him to let her film his now-infamous meetings with Greenwald, which revealed sensitive information about NSA surveillance of Americans. The movie continues as the whistleblower, the journalist and the filmmaker try to manage the firestorm that follows Snowden’s revelations.

Some Americans, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, accused Snowden of treason; others hailed him as a hero.

Since Greenwald first published Snowden’s story in The Guardian, it came to light that Petraeus gave defense secrets and classified government intelligence to his mistress/ biographer, and then lied about his actions when questioned by the FBI. Feinstein was among those who rushed to Petraeus’ defense, arguing that he’s “suffered enough” for making a “mistake.”

“Citizenfour” is coming to Moab at an interesting time: Just this month, Petraeus pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor offense that allows him to avoid any jail time.

Snowden, meanwhile, remains in exile, and if he returns to the U.S., he could be prosecuted for crimes that carry a potential sentence of decades behind bars.

Utah Film Center Artistic Director Patrick Hubley, whose group is presenting the free screening in conjunction with the Grand County Public Library, calls the film a riveting true story.

“This film is literally a historical document about the challenges faced by Edward Snowden as he struggled to release the classified information about the U.S. government’s surveillance program that he collected when working for the NSA (contractors),” Hubley said. “It’s a must-see for anyone interested in the extent of the surveillance state created by the U.S. government and the story of one of the highest-profile whistleblowers in recent memory.”

Utah Film Center outreach coordinator Sallie Hodges encourages residents to see the film.

“We are extremely excited to be showing the film that won an Oscar for best documentary this year,” she said. “’Citizenfour’ is chilling in that it captures a moment in history that will reverberate through the ages; a moment that would not have been captured had not a connection been made. (It is) a poignant film that will appeal to everyone regardless of any political affiliation.”

Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St.

Award-winning documentary about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden comes to Star Hall


When: Thursday, March 19 at 7 p.m.

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: Free

For more information about the film, or upcoming Utah Film Center screenings, go to

“It’s a must-see for anyone interested in the extent of the surveillance state created by the U.S. government and the story of one of the highest-profile whistleblowers in recent memory.”