Oscars 2015 winners and nominees

Oscars 2015: 'Citizenfour' wins for documentary feature

“Citizenfour" won the Oscar for documentary feature on Sunday night and director Laura Poitras thanked NSA document leaker Edward Snowden for his "courage."

The film, an examination of personal privacy and security in the digital age, is also an up-close portrait of Snowden in the decisive moments when he captured the world’s attention by releasing information on classified U.S. government surveillance programs.

"The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don't only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself, " Poitras said in accepting the award. "When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control."

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She added, "Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistle-blowers."

The award went to Poitras and producers Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky, who all took to the stage on Sunday night along with journalist Glenn Greenwald and Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills.

Shortly after the announcement of the award, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement from Snowden that read, “When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

Snowden has been living in asylum in Russia.

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A large portion of the film takes place in a Hong Kong hotel room alongside Snowden as a series of news articles began to be released stemming from secret documents he gained access to while working as a contractor for the U.S. intelligence community. A startling primary historical document, Poitras has compared the experience to being in the parking garage with Watergate whistle-blower Deep Throat.

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