Alex Gibney is a titan of documentary making. Here's 10 reasons to watch his latest, the excellent Wikileaks: We Steal Secrets and then hit the back catalogue.
1. Gibney does documentary as blockbuster. You’ll not even realise you’re learning.
Gibney takes big, brawny subjects and adds brains. He’s done financial corruption in Enron, U.S. torture in Taxi to the Dark Side and now Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in We Steal Secrets.
2. He’ll have you on the edge of your seat. Pacific Rim got nothing on this.
Here’s Gibney on how Wikileaks is a thriller by intent: "In Wikileaks, the film is structured as a kind of espionage thriller because a lot of the characters see themselves as spies."
3. Powerful, difficult men fascinate him. You watch Mad Men, you can dig that.
On dealing with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange: "I told him: 'I’m not a character in your book, you can’t manage me that way.' I think that becomes a problem for Julian, I think he likes to feel that he’s controlling people: he’s a puppet master, which is an odd character trait for somebody who is also a transparency radical."
4. He’s not afraid to tell powerful, difficult men where to go.
Assange demanded money to participate in the film; Gibney told the story without him. "You know, I made a film about the criminal cover up of the Catholic Church [2012’s Mea Maxima Culpa] and the Pope never talked to me."
5. He stands up for the little guy. In Wikileaks's case, leaker Bradley Manning.
"Manning has plead guilty to leaking materials to Wikileaks, but the government or the US military is just determined to try him for this charge of 'aiding the enemy', it’s a precursor to criminalising journalism."
6. The key themes of Gibney’s work? Sex, power, money.
On Client 9, his 2010 film about the fall of New York governor Elliot Spitzer: "Here the scandal was Eliot Spitzer engaged with a high price escort, but there was a bigger scandal going on that nobody paid any attention to, and even that scandal people got wrong."
7. Goddamn, this guy is smart as hell.
"Wikileaks is an organisation whose greatest value is that it can’t be held to account, which can be a very good thing, but it’s not a good thing if people and organisations feel that because they’re doing the good deeds they don’t need to be held to account."
8. Oh yeah, and then there’s the Oscar...
For U.S. torture investigation Taxi to the Dark Side: "Where’s the Oscar? In the downstairs bathroom. People can pick it up and make their speech in the mirror if they like, but they only have 45 seconds."
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9. Jeez, ain't nothing he can’t do.
"The Lance Armstrong film I’m working on now. I’ve talked to him for it but I’ve been working on this since 2008."
10. He’s even done a doc about The Eagles.
Wikileaks: We Steal Secrets is out 12 July; for a full interview with Alex Gibney read this month's magazine.