Oscar Winner Gibney Visits UAlbany (May 2009)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
May 6, 2009
Barnes, AJRL 475
Extra Credit: Alex Gibney Seminar

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The New York State Writer’s Institute hosted Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney in the UAlbany Science Library on Friday, April 24.
Don Faulkner, Director of the Institute, introduced Gibney to the crowd of about 30 people. Gibney’s credits include “Taxi to the Darkside,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”

Amidst talk of his films, three of which were screened at the University’s Page Hall prior to his speaking engagement, Gibney fielded questions from the audience. Inquiries ranged from “What’s next?” to “How’s your lawsuit coming?” and “How do you feel about Michael Moore?”

Gibney was most playful when answering one woman’s question about how he felt regarding Conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity’s offer to be waterboarded for charity. It was obvious by the conversation that followed which political ideology Gibney is aligned with.
Gibney said he finds it appalling that people continue to joke about it because “waterboarding is drowning. And drowning is not a pleasant experience,” but he would “be happy to go and administer it to him.”
“MSNBC versus Fox News… That’s a network rivalry we’re all going to enjoy in the future,” he added with a laugh.

This segment re-opened the talk of his Oscar winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side.” Popular entertainment search-engine IMDB describes the film as “an in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.” “Taxi to the Dark Side” is comprised of archive footage, soldier’s personal videos and interviews, in which many speakers “lament the loss of American ideals in pursuit of security.”
When A.O. Scott of the New York Times reviewed the film, he commented that “Plenty of moviegoers would happily pay not to think about the issues raised… But sooner or later we will need to understand what has happened in this country in the last seven years, and this documentary will be essential to that effort.”

Gibney acknowledged that in today’s market, even documentaries need to be entertaining.
He said, “What’s the point of making a film that’s not entertaining?” and that he aimed to show viewers an “intimate connection with consequences of corruption” in his most recent work. He related this to the question about Michael Moore, mastermind of such films as “Bowling for Columbine” and “Sicko;” stating that Moore “opened doors for documentary filmmakers” because of his own commercial success.

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