Though he didn’t become a household name until the release of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room in 2005, Alex Gibney was copping Emmys for his TV documentaries as early as 1992. His Taxi to the Dark Side won the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award in 2007; Enron got an Oscar nomination and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer got shortlisted. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, The Armstrong Lie and, most recently, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief have all upped the ante for the documentary form, provoking outrage from the individuals and institutions in his cinematic crosshairs while stirring up spirited public discussion about oft-buried issues. Gibney does not pull his punches; perhaps that’s why Esquire in 2010 called him “perhaps the most important documentarian of our time.”
The release of a new Alex Gibney work is a buzzworthy event, so it’s quite a coup for the Woodstock Film Festival to be getting the chance for a special preview screening of his latest opus this Friday night at Upstate Films Woodstock, a month ahead of the film’s general theatrical release. The next victim of Gibney’s unflinching scrutiny is a modern icon once deemed untouchable and still revered – indeed, practically deified – by users of Apple products worldwide: the late MacIntosh inventor and IT empire-builder Steve Jobs himself.
“Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine is no corporate-sanctioned hagiography and was made without Apple’s cooperation or that of Jobs’s immediate family,” note Magnolia Pictures’ press materials accompanying the new film’s release. “Gibney’s film is a laser-sharp and balanced assessment of the technology mogul, who was part iconoclast, part savvy corporate chieftain, part genius and part tyrant. Even if Apple’s products carried a small ‘i,’ the ego behind them was writ large.”
Along with an examination of the lasting legacy of the Jobs regime on the culture of Silicon Valley, the film is said to focus attention on the many contributions to Apple of Jobs’s talented colleagues, long eclipsed by the larger-than-life personal mythmaking that was an integral part of his marketing brilliance. It’s a piece of the picture that needs to fall into place, even for committed Mac acolytes.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine will screen at 9:30 p.m. this Friday, August 14 at Upstate Films Woodstock. Tickets at the door will cost $15; advance tickets are available for $10 at https://woodstockfilmfestival.com/events/stevejobs.php.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine screening, Friday, August 14, 9:30 p.m., $15/$10, Upstate Films, 132 Tinker Street, Woodstock; (845) 679-6608, https://woodstockfilmfestival.com/events/stevejobs.php.