Alex Gibney — the prolific documentary filmmaker behind "Dirty Money" and "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" — showcased his upcoming Theranos documentary on Friday evening at SXSW.
The film, which debuted at Sundance, gives a stunning behind-the-scenes look into the now-disgraced startup that set out to revolutionize blood testing but, in fact, did nothing of the sort.
"The Inventor" runs about two hours and features new interviews with former Theranos employees, the journalists who were among the first to cover the startup, and the WSJ reporter who brought the company's truth to light.
In a brief Q&A after the screening at SXSW, Gibney said he was first "convinced" by HBO executive Richard Butler and former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter to take on Theranos in 2017. (CNN and HBO share parent company WarnerMedia.)
It was initially difficult to get employees to talk, he said, because they were afraid of being sued. Eventually, Gibney and his team were able to obtain 100 hours of previously shot footage from inside Theranos (including founder Elizabeth Holmes and former Theranos COO Sunny Balwani dancing as they enter a room for a company all-hands after receiving FDA approval for one test).
Gibney said the story began with interviewing the journalists who felt duped:
This is a story about getting fooled."
"The Inventor" isn't out on HBO until March 18th, but I'll be chatting with Gibney about the film Saturday morning and will let you know what else I learn....