Philip Alexander Gibney
October 23, 1953
New York City, United States
|Alma mater||Yale University|
UCLA Film School
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
|Relatives||Frank Gibney (father)|
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. In 2019 he released his newest documentary, Citizen K, about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian billionaire exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Gibney was born in New York City, the son of Harriet (Harvey) and journalist Frank Gibney. 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."
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.
[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.
"Objectivity is dead. There's no such thing as objectivity. When you're making a film, a film can't be objective.
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.
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.
Gibney is president of Jigsaw Productions, which produces independent films, music documentaries, and TV mini-series. He has been honored by the Yale Film Studies program for his contributions to film culture. In 2010, Utne Reader listed Gibney as one of "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World."
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.
In 2015, Gibney received the inaugural Hitchens Prize, awarded in honor of the late writer Christopher Hitchens. 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.
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. He is suing for over a million dollars in damages. He stated that the film has grossed only $280,000.