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Alex Gibney

  • American director
  • Born October 23, 1953

Philip Alexander Gibney (; born October 23, 1953) is an American documentary film director and producer. In 2010, Esquire magazine said Gibney "is becoming the most important documentarian of our time".His works as director include The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (winner of three Emmys in 2015), We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (the winner of three 2013 primetime Emmy awards), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (nominated in 2005 for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (short-listed in 2011 for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Casino Jack and the United States of Money; and Taxi to the Dark Side (winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature), focusing on a taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002.


Sports are the ultimate secular religion. Instead of being worried about whether your kids will be okay or how your job is going, you have your team, and you can focus all of your angst and your hopes and dreams on your team. I am in no way saying it always relieves any of this!




When it comes to governments and corporations, we should demand that less is secret. That's where corruption flowers.




'Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream' is an intentionally angry film. How could it not be when the chance of an infant dying is five times greater on the Bronx Park Avenue than on Manhattan's Park Avenue just across the Harlem River?




Jesus Christ never preached there should be celibate priests. The only reason the church has this is because it's a mechanism of power and control. You can control priests who are celibate.




I think of my films as not necessarily political but more moral. Between my father, my stepfather, and my mother - they all felt pretty passionately about the importance of standing up and doing the right thing, and none of them were suck-ups. What motivates me is usually abuse of power.




The message films that try to be message films always fail. Likewise with documentaries. The documentaries that work best are the ones that eschew a simple message for an odd angle. I found that one of the most spectacular films about the Middle East was 'Waltz With Bashir,' or 'The Gatekeepers,' or '5 Broken Cameras.'




It might kill you to say it, because the film really takes on the Catholic Church, but I do think there is a sort of affection for certain rituals, and an authenticity to the presentation of those rituals, in 'Mea Maxima Culpa.'




The job of a journalist is to find out stuff. The job of the government - sometimes - is to keep stuff secret. There's a natural tension there.




When we were working on 'Taxi to the Dark Side,' we would purposefully not show it to certain people in the cutting room, because we would include a lot of horrible material and would need a fresh pespective. They would look at us and say, 'Are you out of your minds? You can't include that!'




It's hard to make a living doing documentaries. Frankly, if it takes you five years to do a film, and that's the only film you're doing, you're in trouble.




Now, unfortunately, some prissy card-carrying members of the U.S. Constitution have made us all look bad by pointing out that many of the Gitmo detainees weren't guilty of anything. Whoops!




The whole macho thing has to be reexamined. Because in my view, the Bush administration was weak, not strong. To engage in a policy of torture is a weak policy. Because ultimately, it encourages the terrorists. It undermines our own values. It corrupts our system. And it doesn't get good intelligence.




When I was a kid, I played sports a lot. My mom and dad were divorced, but I hung out in the neighborhood a lot, and it was all about sports. I would be out all day on the sand lot or on the hockey rink. My dad would take me to baseball games, but he worked so hard, and he would always fall asleep.




I'm a sports junkie, and I am interested in athletic will - how you exceed the expectations of your own performance when it counts to deliver something beyond yourself so that you can win.




Why do we even need WikiLeaks? They're not the only organization that publishes leaks. And they don't have some special technology that allows them to post on the Internet with mirrored sites. The idea of WikiLeaks lives on, but as an organization, it's become increasingly irrelevant.




I think the future of journalism is going to be a battle between caution and recklessness. And I think a little bit of recklessness is a good thing, as some of the WikiLeaks cables proved.




For years, the Bush Administration eviscerated all the military and legal structures that were designed to separate the innocent from the guilty in the 'Global War on Terror.'




I thought it was a classic David and Goliath story, and I was fully onboard Team WikiLeaks. I was very pro the leaks, barring the redaction issue. But I see WikiLeaks as a publisher.




Every film may not be appropriate for a theatrical release, and the theatrical business is not a very good business for anybody except the distributor.




Oscar always opens up doors, especially the night of the Oscars. On that night, you hold that gold man, and it's like having Gandalf's staff. You can go anywhere and do anything. It's a talisman of such power.




There's something magical about a home run. It almost violates the space of the stadium. It's a game of the imagination in some ways. Baseball.




To get discounts on some drugs, private insurers are willing to pay top prices for blockbuster pharmaceuticals like Vioxx, despite the fact that Vioxx was rumored to cause fatal strokes and heart attacks.




Every film is faced with the enemy of time. Only so much story can fit into the 90-150 minutes of time that moviegoers are willing to stay in their seats. Naturally, compression is necessary. So are the exclusion and amalgamation of characters so that the viewer does not become bewildered.




In the U.S., hospitals are rewarded for keeping hospital beds full. That's the market at work. The question is: should we work for the market, or should the market work for us?




I'm a good learner. I can dig in. I knew nothing about mark-to-market accounting when I started the 'Enron' film.




The Bush administration will go down in history as the Torture Team.




There are many people, including me, who admire the original mission of WikiLeaks.




When the producers of 'Why Poverty?' came to me to do a film about poverty in the United States, I asked if I could do a film about wealth instead. I tend to make films about perpetrators, rather than victims.




I remember when I did my Enron film, my executive producers at the time felt very strongly that I should mock the Enron executives more viciously because everybody wanted that moment.




You have to assume once you go online, anything you put there can be made public. Yet while you're online, you feel like it's a private, sacred space. But you're really broadcasting to the world.




There are all sorts of inventive ways to get your film out there: sometimes via the Internet, sometimes via viral screenings in people's living rooms across the country.




When we go to war, our politicians will be guided by our popular will. And if we believe that torture 'got' bin Laden, then we will be more prone to accept the view that a good 'end' can justify brutal 'means.'




Insurance companies pay big bucks for procedures but next to nothing for patient consultations and preventive medicine, which is what most medicine is.




I am furious at the way that we have allowed money to subvert our democracy. I am appalled at the way that the U.S., a very wealthy nation, permits and even encourages a level of poverty that other wealthy nations would not even consider.




Wikileaks in its essence is a publisher, pure and simple. They were very much in the same position as 'The New York Times' and 'The Guardian.'




Here's where the insurance companies really fail us. They over-pay hospitals, specialists and drug companies and then raise premiums to cover the costs. Further, when they pay hospitals 115% of what it should cost to care for a patient, they are paying for inefficiency that can be dangerous.



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