Alex Gibney

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Alex Gibney
Alex Gibney 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Gibney at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party
Philip Alexander Gibney

(1953-10-23) October 23, 1953 (age 69)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materYale University
UCLA Film School
Occupation(s)Film director, producer
Years active1980–present
RelativesFrank Gibney (father)

Philip Alexander Gibney (/ˈɡɪbni/; 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".[1]

Gibney's 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.[2][3] In 2019, he released his documentary Citizen K, about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian billionaire exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Life and career[edit]

Gibney was born in New York City, the son of Harriet (Harvey) and journalist Frank Gibney.[4][5] His stepfather was the Rev. William Sloane Coffin. After attending Pomfret School, Gibney earned his bachelor's degree from Yale University and later attended the UCLA Film School.

Gibney developed an anti-authoritarian view from the journalism career of his father: "They say to succeed you're supposed to suck up and kick down. Well, he was the classic guy who sucked down and kicked up, which is never a good career path! He was at Time, then fired. At Newsweek, fired. At Life, fired." His stepfather was equally an influence on him. "There was something about my father, my mother, and then my stepfather, I think they all ruddered against authority in their own peculiar ways. And that probably rubbed off on me, too."[6]

He served as executive producer of the documentary No End in Sight (2007). His film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008) is a documentary based on Hunter S. Thompson's life and his "Gonzo" style of journalism. Under executive producer Martin Scorsese, Gibney was series producer for the PBS television series The Blues (2003) (producing individual episodes directed by Wim Wenders and Charles Burnett) and writer-producer of The Pacific Century (1992) (which won the News & Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Historical Program). Several films he directed and/or produced have been screened at the Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca Film Festivals.

In an interview with Robert K. Elder for The Film That Changed My Life, Gibney credits much influence on his filming style to The Exterminating Angel:

[The Exterminating Angel is] dark, but it's also wickedly funny and mysterious in ways that can't be reduced to a simple, analytical explanation. I always thought that's what's great about movies sometimes—the best movies have to be experienced; they can't just be written about.[7]

In an interview with David Poland for MIFF, Gibney disagrees with the view from nowhere, the idea that journalists can be objective:

"Objectivity is dead. There's no such thing as objectivity. When you're making a film, a film can't be objective.[8]

Gibney's frequent documentary mode is the expository style akin to Ken Burns- in which the filmmaker relies on testimony from subjects involved in the subject matter and voice-over narration.[9]

Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival where it won Best Documentary. The film probes the killing of a taxi driver named Dilawar at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.[10]

Gibney is president of Jigsaw Productions, which produces independent films, documentaries and television series. On June 16, 2020, Imagine Entertainment, a film, television and documentary production company run by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, invested in and acquired an ownership stake in the company.[11] Gibney has been honored by the Yale Film Studies program for his contributions to film culture. In 2010, Utne Reader listed him as one of "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World."[12]

His 2013 film We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, is a comprehensive look at WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning. The Wikileaks organization itself has objected to the way Gibney portrayed it, and has posted a line-by-line rebuttal to the entire film.[13] Gibney posted a rebuttal.[14]

In 2015, Gibney received the inaugural Hitchens Prize, awarded in honor of the late writer Christopher Hitchens.[15] Gibney had previously collaborated with Hitchens on a documentary film adaption of Hitchens's book The Trial of Henry Kissinger.

Gibney's most recent projects include work on The Armstrong Lie (about Lance Armstrong), Catching Hell (a contribution to ESPN's '30 for 30' series which looks at "The Inning" in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series), Going Clear (a documentary about Scientology), Dirty Money (doc-series that explores corporate greed and corruption), The Looming Tower (fiction series based on the book by Lawrence Wright of which he directed the pilot), and The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which premiered at Sundance 2019.

Gibney writes for The Atlantic, and has written for Huffington Post and other publications.[16]

He has been a resident of Summit, New Jersey.[17]


On June 19, 2008, Gibney's company filed for arbitration, arguing that THINKFilm failed to properly distribute and promote his film Taxi to the Dark Side.[18][19] He sued for over a million dollars in damages and stated that the film has grossed only $280,000.

Filmography (as director)[edit]


  1. ^ "Alex Gibney Movie – Documentaries by Alex Gibney". Esquire. April 23, 2010. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  2. ^ "Taxi to the Dark Side Wins Documentary Feature: 2008 Oscars". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 2, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  3. ^ "2008|". Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  4. ^ Goldman, Andrew Jones (November 22, 2013). "". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) Archived October 3, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, at IMDb.
  6. ^ "CBS News". CBS News. September 20, 2015. Archived from the original on October 23, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Gibney, Alex. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p95. Print.
  8. ^ Gibney, Alex. "DP/30: Alex Gibney on We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (LA Edition)" Online video clip. DP/30: The Oral History of Hollywood. YouTube, 29 Oct. 2013. Web.
  9. ^ Nichols, Bill, 1942- (December 7, 2010). Introduction to documentary (Second ed.). Bloomington. ISBN 978-0-253-00487-1. OCLC 695998458.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Cole, Williams (February 2008). "How We Torture: Alex Gibney in conversation with Williams Cole". The Brooklyn Rail. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 16, 2020). "Imagine Entertainment Makes "Substantial Investment" In Jigsaw Productions As Alex Gibney Becomes Cornerstone Filmmaker In Documentary Growth Plans". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on September 14, 2020. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Alex Gibney: The Smartest Guy in the Room". Archived from the original on October 23, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  13. ^ "Annotated Transcript of 'We Steal Secrets' by Alex Gibney". May 23, 2013. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  14. ^ Greg Kilday (November 19, 2013). "Alex Gibney Fires Back at Julian Assange: 'People Are Finally Seeing the Darker Side'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  15. ^ "2015 Prize - Alex Gibney". The Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation. Archived from the original on July 29, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Alex Gibney | Jigsaw Productions Archived May 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Bio.
  17. ^ Tsai, Martin. "Alex Gibney's latest documentary corners Eliot Spitzer" Archived October 15, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, The Star-Ledger, November 10, 2010. Accessed October 14, 2018. "Even though Alex Gibney has an Oscar, an Emmy, a Peabody and a Grammy sitting on his mantel, his life seems pretty much that of an ordinary Jersey guy. He commutes daily from Summit to his Manhattan office via the Lincoln Tunnel."
  18. ^ Christine Kearney (June 26, 2008). "US documentary maker seeks damages over Oscar film". Reuters. Archived from the original on October 3, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  19. ^ Charles Lyons (June 26, 2008). "Filmmaker Says Distributor Failed Him". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  20. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (September 10, 2020). "'Totally Under Control': Neon To Release Alex Gibney Docu About White House's Failed Response To Pandemic". Deadline. Archived from the original on September 13, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  21. ^ "'It's soul-crushing': the shocking story of Guantánamo Bay's 'forever prisoner'". The Guardian. December 7, 2021.

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