Where Are the Women? Citizenfour


The film would not exist if Edward Snowden had not known of documentarian Laura Poitras as a fearless journalist and entrusted her with his story.


Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]
Is she the only woman in an otherwise all-male ensemble? [why this matters]


Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]


[no issues]


[no issues]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

Rating documentaries for representation of women can be tricky, but often it comes down to this: Is the subject of the film a woman? In this case, the subject is male, but the female documentarian, Laura Poitras, is more a part of the story that usual. In fact, the film would not exist at all if Edward Snowden had not known of Poitras by her reputation as a fearless muckraking journalist and entrusted her with his story. Since Poitras’ authority and significance to the story is already accounted for in the criteria, only one point is awarded, acknowledging the unusual circumstances this film represents.


IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? Yes (Laura Poitras) (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? (no credit for screenwriting) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: This is one of the biggest news stories of the 21st century, and it was brought to us by a woman journalist with a reputation for fierce fearlessness who inevitably became a part of the story.

Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Citizenfour! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Citizenfour.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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