Topic: Alex Gibney
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September 9, 2013 at 9:21 AM
TORONTO — Funny how the insane crowds at the Toronto International Film Festival never seem to show up for the 8:30 a.m. screenings. (An unfortunate side effect to watching a movie that early: You sit in the darkened theater, waiting for the movie to begin, and it can be a little tricky to keep the eyes open.) Anyway, a small but stalwart group of us gathered for an early screening of Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Armstrong Lie.” Gibney, a prolific and acclaimed documentarian (“Taxi to the Dark Side,” “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks” and many more), had been working on a film about cyclist Lance Armstrong’s 2009 “comeback,” when it suddenly became a different kind of film: a story about a lie, and the village it took to tell that lie, and the consequences when it was finally revealed. Gibney comments that he was one of many who found Armstrong, a cancer survivor and multiple winner of the Tour de France, inspiring and heroic — until the evidence that he was using banned performance-enhancing drugs became too hard to ignore. The film’s a little overlong (Gibney’s got a bit too much footage of the 20o9 Tour de France crammed in), but it’s a meticulous, thoughtful presentation of a story that should have lost its power to shock, but still does.
“People loved the beautiful lie,” says Gibney, pondering on how he and others were so taken in, “more than the ugly truth.” (more…)