Brian Knappenberger’s documentary Nobody Speak snagged a $2 million Netflix deal during the Sundance Film Festival, one of the docus that made waves in Park City at the just-wrapped fest. The latest pic from the documentarian, last at Sundance in 2014 with The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story Of Aaron Swartz, features interviews with Gawker founder Nick Denton, journalists and other in-the-know commentators who chronicle the epic court battle between Hulk Hogan and Gawker Media. It resulted in an astounding $140 million verdict in favor of Hogan, sending Gawker into bankruptcy.
Emphasizing the vital role a free press plays in our democracy, Knappenberger’s film pits privacy rights against the First Amendment, while examining the dangerous influence some extremely wealthy and powerful individuals—like in this case, Peter Thiel—have brought to bear.
“It was a crazy trial. It was salacious, and at times it was highly principled. You never quite knew when it would be either…I was captivated in the trial—really, really interested—and then suddenly, at the end of this trial, there was this $140 million, unheard of kind of verdict against Gawker, which caused their bankruptcy,” Knappenberger explained when he dropped by Deadline’s Sundance Studio.
“And then, as if it wasn’t shocking enough, it was revealed that Peter Thiel was funding Hulk Hogan’s case. So right then I understood, I really want to try to tell this story. And what that meant at that point was really just kind of hanging on for dear life, and understanding how things were turning and shifting in a year that’s a very divisive, obviously, election.”
On President Donald Trump’s election, Knappenberger spoke to his fascination with capturing stories as they unfold, the film’s relation to our times, and his own concerns about the 45th President of the United States.
“Candidates and politicians and presidents, they don’t have to like the press. They never do—that’s the point, right? We have an adversarial press. The point is speaking truth to power,” he said. “That’s what it’s about. I think if this film reinforces that notion, and calls people to action to keep standing up for that basic notion—that you have the right to free speech, that you have the right to criticize power—I think we’ll have done a pretty good thing.”
Check out our interview above.
Actors, directors, filmmakers and special guests visiting the Deadline Studio at Sundance 2017 enjoyed sweet and savory treats, custom cocktails and more at Applegate’s REEL FOOD CAFE. Find out more about Applegate and their mission to change the meat we eat at www.applegate.com