Edward Snowden

Filmmaker Laura Poitras examines US security issues

American director to use Snowden interviews for her documentary trilogy on post-9/11 history

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 7:18am

Sharing bylines on both sides of the Atlantic in reports on the US government's domestic surveillance activities is a woman best known as an acclaimed documentary film maker.

Laura Poitras, 49, played a key role in the Washington Post story revealing a secret National Security Agency programme that used data from internet firms with reporter Barton Gellman.

She was also part of The Guardian team with reporter Glenn Greenwald that conducted the video interview with source Edward Snowden.

In an interview with the news and entertainment website Poitras said she was originally contacted anonymously about the scoop in January via email.

There was "ongoing correspondence", without Poitras finding out who the source was. She contacted a few people, including Gellman and Greenwald.

A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship - nicknamed the "genius grant" - Poitras had made a name for herself with the first two episodes of her trilogy documenting US post-9/11 history and the war on terror.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from New York's New School in 1996, Poitras now works for Praxis Films. She is also a board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Poitras was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006 for her My Country, My Country documentary - the first of a trilogy - that followed an Iraqi doctor during the US occupation, and how civilians dealt with it.

The second followed Osama Bin Laden's former bodyguard, working as a taxi driver in Yemen, and his brother-in-law, who became the first man to face an American military tribunal.

The third instalment - still in progress - deals with NSA surveillance, WikiLeaks and the war on whistleblowers, Poitras said in an interview posted on the MacArthur Foundation's website.