PN 16: Alex Gibney on Revealing Secrets

Cyber warfare and the Stuxnet virus are the focus of Alex Gibney’s new film “Zero Days.” Once again, Gibney proves himself a master in getting people to talk. In the film, he speaks with high-ranking government officials on camera as well as anonymous sources whose testimony is delivered by a computer avatar. On Pure Nonfiction, he talks to Thom Powers about the process of making “Zero Days.” He also reflects on the influence of his father Frank Gibney and the struggle to establish himself as a director before making a breakthrough around the age of 50.

For more, read “How Alex Gibney is Reinventing Documentary Filmmaking” by Boris Kachka in New York magazine

On Twitter: @AlexGibneyFilm @thompowers @purenonfiction

This interview was recorded at the School of Visual Arts MFA Social Documentary program.

Pure Nonfiction is sponsored by Sundance Now Doc Club.

Documentaries directed by Alex Gibney mentioned in this interview:

Zero Days (2016)

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) – A critical look at the Apple CEO.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015) – An expose of the Church of Scientology, based on the book by Lawrence Wright.

Finding Fela! (2014) – A complicated portrait on the life and music of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.

The Armstrong Lie (2013) – Cyclist Lance Armstrong talks about the doping program that led to his downfall.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (2013) – Documenting the leak of government documents by Bradley Manning, their public release by Wikileaks, and the group’s controversial leader Julian Assange.

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) – Examining pedophilia in the Catholic Church, from the first known protest against clerical abuse in the US all the way to the Vatican.

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) – The former New York State governor speaks on camera about the prostitution scandal that led to his resignation.

Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) – Oscar winner for Best Documentary, investigating the US government’s use of torture during the war in Afghanistan.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) – Chronicling the corruption that caused the company Enron to file for the largest corporate bankruptcy of its time.

Documentaries produced by Gibney, mentioned in the interview:

The Blues (2003) – Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, this multi-part series featured films directed by Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Clint Eastwood, Marc Levin, and others.

The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002) – directed by Eugene Jarecki, the film takes its inspiration from Christopher Hitchens’ book making a case for bringing war crime charges against the former Secretary of State.

The Pacific Century (1992) – a 10-part PBS series about the rise of the Pacific Rim economies. Alex’s father Frank Gibney wrote the accompanying book.

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