By Joey Nolfi
Updated August 23, 2016 at 08:27 PM EDT
Credit: VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images; The Guardian via Getty Images
  • Movie

Joseph Gordon-Levitt might play a dramatized version of Edward Snowden in the upcoming biopic from filmmaker Oliver Stone, but his new self-directed short, Are You There, Democracy? It’s Me, the Internet, gets up close and personal with the real man who created a firestorm after blowing the whistle on the NSA.

The 35-year-old tweeted the 4-minute film on Tuesday afternoon, highlighting the production’s simple Q&A structure that sees Snowden answering questions about how technological advancements are impacting democracy on a global level.

“Look, nobody’s going to argue that there are not a lot of places where technology does hurt. When we look at the context of mass surveillance where, suddenly, information is being collected about all of us, all of the time, without regard to individual criminal suspicion… People are starting to be afraid of sharing minority opinions,” Snowden, who publicly leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013 and now works as the director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, says as scenes of fantastical animated images play onscreen.

He goes on to cite evolutions in the past that have allowed humans to excel in areas of energy production, environmental preservation, and education as examples of ways technology has (and will continue) to benefit people now and into the future.

“What technology can ultimately provide, if we make sure it works for us rather than against us, is liberty,” he says. “People are more liberated to be creative, people are more liberated to share, people are more liberated to engage in their democracy.”

Snowden concludes: “Life isn’t perfect. It’s never going to be, but it doesn’t need to be… the cost of democracy is uncertainty. We don’t know where things are going to go, but we do know, ultimately, we’re the ones who will be deciding.”

Watch Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden-centric short film in the video above.


  • Movie
  • R
  • 134 minutes
  • Oliver Stone