Philip Alexander "Alex" Gibney (born October 23, 1953) is a documentary filmmaker and producer. His production company, Jigsaw Productions, is based out of New York City. While arguably not as recognized a name as Michael Moore or Errol Morris, Gibney has had increasing success since 2005 creating many highly-acclaimed documentaries on a variety of subjects.
His first film to receive wide-spread public exposure was Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which chronicled the rise and fall of the Houston, TX commodities broker Enron and of its corrupt chief executives, Jeffery Skilling and Kenneth Lay. The film, based on the book of the same name written by Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind, was nominated for an Oscar. note
Some of his other note-worthy films and TV series include:
- The Pacific Century (1992), a PBS-commissioned ten-part documentary series. Co-written with his father, journalist Frank Gibney (who was a veteran of the Pacific Theatre of World War II), the series delves into the long history of East and Southeast Asia (with particular focus given to China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Singapore)—focusing on how their experiences during the Pacific War and the Cold War (not to mention the big role American interventionism played in those) have driven their then-contemporary economic, business and political upheavals. While definitely useful in terms of historicizing the previous century (and documenting the conflicts of Asian nations in the 1990s), much of its predictions have since become Dated History. The whole series is made available for free online here.
- Taxi To The Dark Side (2007), concerning the torture and murder of an Afghan taxi driver by American soldiers while being held in detention at the Parwan Detention Facility in Afghanistan. It also focuses on America's increasing use of torture in its post-9/11 policies. It went on to win both a Peabody Award and the Best Documentary Oscar, and received even more mainstream exposure when it was broadcast by HBO in 2008. It currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Casino Jack And The United States Of Money (2010) a documentary on super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion in 2006 (12 others who associated with Abramoff, including a member of the House Of Representatives, were also fined or jailed) who eventually would be paroled for good behavior at the end of the year (he does not participate directly in the film). It also uses Abramoff's story to highlight the larger role lobbyists have taken in American politics in the past few decades.
- Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) details the story of the former New York governor, who ultimately resigned the position in the fallout of a sex scandal, after only spending less than 15 months in office. The film was based on a book written by The Smartest Guys In The Room co-author Peter Elkind. The film also theorizes that the scandal, considering the timing, was less about upholding moral fortitude than it was an act of political sabotage of Spitzer's progressive policies, and to derail what many believed would be a future presidential bid.
- Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) concerns the culture of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, centering on the story of four deaf men abused as boys when attending a Catholic school in Milwaukee in the 1960's. The story also details the Church's tendency to relocate or ignore problem priests rather than to excommunicate them, and of the varying tactics the church have used to cover-up multiple cases of abuse that have been discovered throughout the world, of which some have included even high-ranking priests and bishops within the Vatican itself. It was nominated for six Emmy awards, winning three.
- Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015) based on the 2013 book by Lawrence Wright (also known for his Pulitzer Prize winner The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (now a series on Hulu), chronicles the life of author L. Ron Hubbard and his founding of the Church of Happyology. It includes interviews with several prominent former members. It also uses rare footage of Church of Happyology events (including a music video), news clippings, documents from his naval service, and diary entries from Hubbard's ex-wife to document his transformation from sci-fi author to religious figurehead. It also covers the tactics the Church used to reach tax-exempt status and how it disciplines problem members. It won the 2015 Emmy Award for Best Documentary. note
- Dirty Money (2018-), a Netflix series focusing on greed, corruption, fraud, crime, and abuse of power within the global economy. Gibney is the series' executive producer and directed its first episode, which details Volkswagen's emissions fraud. Other episodes focus on Donald Trump's business history; payday lending; price-gouging by pharmaceutical companies; money-laundering by American banks for Mexican drug cartels; and a $18 million maple syrup heist (yes, seriously).
- Totally Under Control (2020) covers the Trump administration's response to and handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic in America.
Common tropes found in the films of Alex Gibney:
- Production Posse: Musician Will Bates has scored a number of his films.