Snowden film Citizenfour picks up Oscar for best documentary

Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s extraordinary depiction of the start of Edward Snowden’s NSA surveillance leaking extravaganza, has won the Academy Award for best documentary.

The film shows how Snowden got in touch with the activist film-maker using the titular pseudonym, and the Hong Kong interviews with Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill in which he started detailing what he knew from his time working at the NSA.

As a rare combination of rights activism, historical record and technological explainer, it is quite unlike any other documentary I have seen (I was lucky enough to catch it at its first showing in Berlin, where it had been edited – Poitras understandably wanted some distance between that process and U.S. intelligence services.)

In her acceptance speech on Sunday night, Poitras said Snowden’s disclosures “don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the decisions that rule us are taken in secret we lose the power to control and govern ourselves.”

Greenwald, who led the reporting on the leaks for the Guardian, joined Poitras on stage. Snowden was of course not there, still being holed up in Russia, but he was represented by his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, who also briefly featured in the film. In a statement, Snowden said: “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.”

Where to watch the Oscars live online

This Sunday, ABC is going to live stream the Oscars for the first time in the history of the awards. However, only a subset of TV viewers will have access to the show online.

GigaOM Reads: A look back at the week in tech

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason fired, Google CEO Sergey Brin feels emasculated by phones but not by nerd glasses and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is putting an end to remote work. Plus Oscars & Fashion. Here is our take on the week that was!

Fox in the hen house: Kickstarter backed short wins Oscar

Inocente, the story of a 15-year-old San Diego homeless girl wanting to become an artist, won the Oscar Sunday for best short documentary. It was also the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Academy Award. It was one of the three Kickstarter-funded films nominated for an award; the other two being Kings Point and Buzkashi Boys. So far six Kickstarter-funded films have been nominated for Oscars.

Kickstarter is slowly and surely becoming a major force in the film business, something I noted in my post earlier this year. The Inocente win comes close on the heels of Kickstarter-backed films taking center stage at the Sundance Film Festival. According to Kickstarter, the total amount of dollars pledged to Film and Video projects is, as of today, $104.9 million. And in 2012, Kickstarter saw $57.96 million dollars pledged and 3,891 successfully funded projects in 2012.

When I interviewed Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen last year, I asked him if Kickstarter could perhaps upend the institutional control of the creative industries. Here is what he said:

we’re used to this industrial creative complex of movie studios, record labels and production houses. It wasn’t always that way. This is relatively recent in human history….any dent we can put into the machine we’re happy to do. I think we’re already seeing it. A lot of these things that are getting funded would not have been funded in any way.

Looks like fox is in the henhouse.

Auto-Tune the News Rocks the Oscars

An auto-tuned mash-up featuring Harry Potter‘s Ron Weasley, Toy Story, The Social Network’sSean Parker and Twilight’s Edward, Jacob and Bella was the highlight of the 83rd Oscars. The video was produced by none other than the Gregory Brothers of Auto-Tune The News fame.

Where to Watch the Oscars Online and on iOS Devices

The ceremony for the 83rd annual Academy Awards is only officially being broadcast on ABC, but online there are plenty of options for getting a taste of the fun, including live-streamed red carpet coverage and premium apps for iOS devices that take you backstage.

Where to Watch the 2011 Oscar Nominations Online

Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM ET/5:30 AM PT, the Academy Awards will be announcing its nominees for the 83rd annual round of Oscars. But if you can’t use your TV to watch the names get read, don’t worry — there are a number of online options.

Apple at the Oscars

Swapping turtleneck for tuxedo, Steve Jobs (s aapl) made a rare public appearance when he took to the red carpet at the Academy Awards last night, spotted first by eagle-eyed social media maven Wayne Sutton who posted to his blogOMG it’s Steve Jobs! I’m the only one yelling at him! #oscars #kodakredcarpet

Sutton doesn’t mention whether his yells went unnoticed by His Steveness, but he posted a fantastic snapshot of the event to his blog — take a look and see if you can spot El Jobso for yourself (it’s not immediately easy to find him in the crowd, but once you see him, he’s hard to miss!)

Image courtesy of Wayne Sutton

The Theme Begins (Prequel to The Oscar Theme)

Now why would the normally shy and retiring Steve Jobs be at the Academy Awards Oscar ceremony? Well, he is the largest individual shareholder in the Walt Disney Company, to whom he sold Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Pixar is the legendary computer animation studio responsible for the box office hits Toy Story and Finding Nemo (to name only two of many others) and its latest CG offering, Up, was nominated for an impressive five Academy Awards (and was the first Pixar film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture).
On the night, Up received two of those Oscars; Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Steve didn’t take to the stage to receive the awards, but I’m sure he was grinning from ear to ear like a proud father at his child’s first music recital. Read More about Apple at the Oscars