Documentarian Alex Gibney Will Make His Narrative Film Debut With ‘The Action’
There are few filmmakers more inhumanly prolific than Alex Gibney. The documentarian has completed nineteen (as in 1-9) features over the last decade, not including various shorts and contributions to anthology-doc programs such as ESPN’s classic 30 for 30 series. Chances are that he will probably finish another movie by the time it takes you to reach the end of this article. With such powerful, issue-driven films as Taxi to the Dark Side (injustice in militarized Afghanistan), Going Clear (the mysterious evils of Scientology), and We Steal Secrets (the controversial Wikileaks declassifications), Gibney has earned himself a bit of Oscar gold and cemented his reputation as one of the most skilled, popular, and hard-working documentary filmmakers in the world.
Having now ostensibly exhausted his supply of hot-button issues, he has no choice but to retreat into scripted film to find a new challenge. A report from Deadline indicates that Gibney will soon make a departure from his usual schtick and try his hand with a lightly fictionalized narrative picture called The Action, though it’ll cover familiar ground for the director. Set in the ’70s, the politically-tinged thriller chronicles the daring mission of eight anti-war activists who steal and publicize classified documents from J. Edgar Hoover confirming the government spied on and threatened confirmed rabble-rousers. With a script from Contagion’s Scott Burns and backing from Anonymous Content (the recent winners of the Best Picture Oscar for Spotlight), the film will dramatize the true story of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, a group of radical activists who snuck into a Pennsylvania FBI office on the night of the iconic Ali-Frazier fight to snatch documents exposing illegal surveillance practices for anti-war entities.
So Gibney’s not exactly straying too far from his documentary roots, only tiptoeing across the line between reality and fiction. The most intriguing aspect of this project will be the formation of a personal visual style for Gibney, who’s often been beholden to the truth, forced to work with whatever footage he can scrape together. Who knows what a Gibney picture will look like when he’s holding all the cards?