Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is looking to tackle a markedly less controversial subject matter his next venture. The director behind Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is set to helm and produce an untitled four-hour miniseries documentary about the life and music of Frank Sinatra for Alcon Entertainment and HBO. The documentary is described as “an up close and personal examination of Sinatra, his life, his music and the legendary career that stands alone as unquestionably the most celebrated of the century.” The doc will feature never before seen footage, including home movies and professional and private performances by Sinatra.
Frank Marshall is onboard to executive produce the documentary alongside Nancy Sinatra, and it will premiere on HBO once it’s completed. Gibney recently helmed the disturbing Catholic church scandal doc Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God for HBO and the Julian Assange documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which hits theaters later next month. Hit the jump to read the full press release regarding the Sinatra documentary.
Focus World has released the first trailer and poster for director Alex Gibney’s (Taxi to the Dark Side) documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. As the title suggests, the film focuses on the creation and effect of Julian Assange’s controversial WikiLeaks website, but this trailer also promises a look into how the information age has affected the way governments function and the moral grey area that comes with keeping national secrets. It’s riveting stuff, and I’m happy to see that Gibney’s focus looks to expand beyond Assange/WikiLeaks to examine what the ordeal reveals about the way our world’s governments function in the 21st century.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer and poster. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks opens on May 24th.
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God investigates the secret crimes of a Milwaukee priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who abused more than 200 deaf children in a school that was under his control. At the heart of the documentary is a small group of courageous deaf men – Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Arthur Budzinski and Bob Bolger – who set out to expose the priest who had abused them and sought to protect other children. In addition, the film also spotlights similar sex abuse cases in Ireland and Italy, and shows the extent of the cover-up to protect the Catholic Church.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, filmmaker Alex Gibney talked about how this documentary came out, how they determined the film’s narrative structure, what most surprised him when he spoke with these heroic deaf men, the decision to have actors (Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Jamey Sheridan and John Slattery) provide their voices, his reaction to the extent of the cover-up, and what it would take to change such actions. He also talked about another documentary he’s made about the abuse of power, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, and what he’s looking to do with his production company, Jigsaw Productions. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
We’ve already seen the heavy-hitters of non-documentary films showing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Today, TIFF has announced its impressive documentary line-up along with line-ups for the interesting smaller films that are worth your attention at the fest. The documentaries include Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope, Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, Jonathan Demme’s I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful, and Wim Wenders’ 3D film Pina. The Midnight Madness line-up includes Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest, God Bless America and Douglas Aarniokoski’s The Day starring Ashley Bell and Dominic Monaghan.
Hit the jump for the documentary line-ups (“Real to Reel”), “Midnight Madness”, “Vanguard” (international genre flicks), “TIFF Kids”, and “City to City” (an annual programme that focuses on films from one city; this year is Buenos Aires). The 2011 Toronto Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.
Did you know that people in the 60s dropped acid and it was a really popular time for the psychedelic drug? I did and most likely you did too. Magic Trip follows the road trip of author Ken Kesey and his “Merry Band of Pranksters” as they drove across America and did lots of drugs. What was gleamed from this grand experience? Did they better understand the heart of America during the 1960s? Did they learn the strengths and limitations of the counterculture movement? Did they uncover any truths about themselves? The answer to all of these questions is “No.” They did, however, discover that doing loads of psychedelic drugs is awesome. Not surprisingly, watching the home movies of a group of uninteresting, self-serving quasi-hippies while they regale you with stories of their 1964 summer vacation isn’t fascinating, insightful, or rewarding.
by Jason Barr Posted: January 21st, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side and personal favorite Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) has been tapped by Universal Pictures to direct/produce a documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. If you’re familiar with any of Gibney’s previous work, you may have noticed that the filmmaker often receives aid from his subjects in telling their own story (see Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer for the most recent proof). However, as Variety points out, it’s not currently known whether or not Assange will participate in Gibney’s film.
In case you believe you’re experiencing déjà vu, you’ll be comforted to know that Gibney’s documentary is not the same as the Julian Assange biopic we reported on yesterday. Well, except for the fact that they’ll both be about Assange and his WikiLeaks operation. Other than that, they’re probably a lot different. Well, sort of. Maybe? We can hope…
Earlier this week, the Directors Guild of America named its nominees for Best Director. Now they’ve named their nominees for Best Documentary Director. And the nominees are:
- Lixin Fan for Last Train Home
- Charles Ferguson for Inside Job
- Alex Gibney for Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
- Davis Guggenheim for Waiting for “Superman”
- Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger for Restrepo
Among the notable snubs were Banksy for Exit Through the Gift Shop and Amir Bar-Lev’s The Tillman Story. It’s possible that the DGA’s nominees will be the five Oscar nominees as well, but I honestly don’t see what’s so spectacular about Client 9. Obviously, I’m biased towards Exit Through the Gift Shop, but I think it’s the more enduring and thought-provoking work. Winners will be announced Saturday, January 29th. [TheWrap]
by Ron Messer Posted: January 1st, 2011 at 7:34 am
Freakonomics makes its way to DVD on January 18th after a run in theaters and various On Demand outlets ranging from cable TV to iTunes. The big-screen adaptation of the runaway 2005 bestseller features the work of six of the highest-profile directors working in documentary film. They include: Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (2007 Oscar nominees for Jesus Camp), Alex Gibney (2008 Oscar winner for Taxi To The Dark Side & a 2011 Oscar short-lister for Best Documentary with Client 9: The Rise And Fall Of Eliot Spitzer), Seth Gordon (The King Of Kong), Eugene Jarecki (2005 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Why We Fight) and Morgan Spurlock (2005 Oscar Nominee for Super Size Me which is, as of today, still the most popular rental for any documentary on iTunes).
Collider caught up with the film’s producer Chad Troutwine. Hit the jump for the audio and transcription of our interview, including great stories about how the idea came about and which high-profile directors almost took part.
Cheating sumo wrestlers, the value of a name, bribing students to do better in school, and legalized abortion leading to a lower crime rate are all topics in the documentary anthology Freakonomics. Based on the best-selling book by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics takes the book’s individual chapters and hands them off to noted documentary filmmakers Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp). While Freakonomics has the makings of an excellent weekly TV show, there’s nothing that holds it together as a complete motion picture beyond the source material and an interesting approach to a particular topic.
Magnolia Pictures has released the first trailer for the Freakonomics, assembled by a cadre of Hollywood’s premier documentarians: Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong).
The doc is an adaptation of the bestselling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, which takes a look at the ethics of Sumo wrestling, the repercussions of baby names, the use of cash incentives for underachieving school kids, and the relationship between Roe V. Wade and crime in the early 1990s. Check out the trailer after the jump.
Magnolia Pictures has picked up US distribution rights Alex Gibney’s upcoming Eliot Spitzer documentary. Spitzer’s legacy will most likely be that he liked the high-price whores. Unfortunately, Spitzer was one of the great crusaders against the financial corruption. As New York’s attorney general he prosecuted crimes against the largest financial institutions and some of the most powerful executives in the country. When he was elected governor, he won by such a wide margin that many believed he could be come the first Jewish president. And then the whore-thing broke and it all came crashing down. It’s your tragic rise/fall stuff, but I hope it’s also an interesting look at how our country held a man’s personal, non-criminal actions more important than his attempts to stop real criminals who ended up destroying our financial system.
Hit the jump for the synopsis of the currently untitled documentary, click here for a clip from the film, and click here for our interview with Gibney where he spoke about the project. [Screen Daily]
One of the films I’m looking forward to most this year is Casino Jack and the United States of Money by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side). The film explores the dominance of how large corporate contributions to political campaigns has corrupted our government and I would argue that most Americans already know that. So how is Casino Jack revelatory? Because while we may know the why, we haven’t explored how. For instance, have you ever heard about “carried interest”? I hadn’t, but this new webisode informed me that “carried interest” refers to the millions (and billions) of dollars earned in commissions by private equity and hedge fund managers. They pay 15% in federal income taxes on it. By contrast, professions like teachers and firefighters pay up to 28%. And yes, while 15% of $30 million is more money than 28% of $30,000, a person who makes $30 million and gives up 15% ain’t starving. And if you think Casino Jack is a liberal agit-prop against Republicans, this webisode makes no qualms about calling Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “The Senator from Wall Street”.
Hit the jump to check out the full webisode and click here to read the interview we did with Gibney. Casino Jack and the United States of Money is already out in a limited release and will expand to more cities over the following weeks.
Alex Gibney has made some of the most entertaining and provocative non-fiction films of our times. He turned the story of a massive corporate disaster into a riveting drama of greed, arrogance and betrayal in the acclaimed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Next he unraveled the mystery of a young Afghani taxi driver’s disappearance into a gripping, eye-opening thriller in the Academy Award winning Taxi To The Dark Side.
Now, in Casino Jack and The United States of Money, Gibney turns his camera on a profoundly American story about high ideals, irresistible temptations, brazen ambition and outlandish behavior as he probes the secret history of the man many have called “the king of corruption” – super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. More after the jump:
We sat down with director Alex Gibney today to talk about his new movie, Casino Jack and The United States of Money. Gibney has made some of the most entertaining and provocative non-fiction films of our times. He turned the story of a massive corporate disaster into a riveting drama of greed, arrogance and betrayal in the acclaimed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Next he unraveled the mystery of a young Afghani taxi driver’s disappearance into a gripping, eye-opening thriller in the Academy Award winning Taxi To The Dark Side.
Now Gibney turns his camera on a profoundly American story about high ideals, irresistible temptations, brazen ambition and outlandish behavior as he probes the secret history of the man many have called “the king of corruption” – super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. We’ll have the full transcript online soon, but we got an update from Alex on his upcoming projects, including Untitled Eliot Spitzer Project, Untitled Lance Armstrong Documentary, and Magic Bus, which are all currently in post-production. He also told us about a new project, Catching Hell, which he is doing for ESPN’s “30 for 30″ films in celebration of their 30th anniversary. Hit the jump for what he had to say:
With Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) premiering a work-in-progress version of his Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film at the Tribeca Film Festival in a little over a week, the first clip from the documentary has been released on Fortune. While many might only remember former New York governor Spitzer getting caught seeing prostitutes, before the bust, most thought he was on his way to even bigger things. After all, when he got busted, he was incredibly popular and the bust was shocking. The documentary goes behind the scenes with new interviews with the former CEO of Emperors Club, friends, enemies of the ex-governor, and Eliot Spitzer himself. Check out the first clip after the jump: