After the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, popular culture struggled to find its bearings. Some proclaimed the death of irony, of satire, of humor. For documentary filmmakers, it was a different kind of struggle: wrestling with objectivity and trying to understand the enemy.
Among those documentarians was Alex Gibney, who won an academy award for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” a film about the United States use of torture in the War on Terrorism.
Some of Gibney’s other films include “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” a film about Jack Abramoff. Gibney’s self-stated goal is to seek out abuses of power and expose them.
His latest film, which premiered this week on HBO, is a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright. It’s based on Wright’s one man play, entitled “My Trip to Al Qaeda.”
In it, Wright examines the origins of Al Qaeda and his own effort to maintain journalistic objectivity while investigating the roots of terror. Need to Know’s Alison Stewart sat down with Gibney to discuss the film, and the role of the documentarian in today’s society.