As film and TV try their best to get back into production amidst the constraints of a global pandemic, Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney has been quietly filming a documentary for the past four months with Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger. The project, titled Totally Under Control puts a spotlight on the White House’s failed response to the global pandemic and how it could have been prevented. Neon announced today that they will be releasing the docu in October.
Gibney, Harutyunyan and Hillinger dive deep into how this happened and the pandemic’s devastating impact. The film gives damning testimony from public health officials and hard investigative reporting, Gibney exposes a system-wide collapse caused by a profound dereliction of Presidential leadership.
“With an extraordinary team of collaborators, I was compelled to mount this production when I saw the scale of incompetence and political corruption by the Trump Administration in the face of a global pandemic,” said Gibney. “Now we know that by Feb. 7, Trump knew that COVID was, in his words, ‘a deadly virus.’ But instead of working to protect the American people by containing the virus, the current administration was willfully blind to the growing contagion (“it’s like a miracle; it will disappear,” said Trump) in hopes that voters wouldn’t notice any problems until after the 2020 election.”
He added, “While the current administration tries to frame the situation as an unavoidable crisis, it is really closer to a crime of negligence. Weirdly enough, I don’t see this as a political film; it’s a film about incompetence and corruption that is totally out of control.”
As of the publishing of this article, nearly 190,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and the number keeps growing. From July 15 to August 31, the death toll was running at an average of 1000 per day — which is double the number of those who perished on 9/11 every week. The carelessly designed lockdowns and their long-lasting economic effects have led to massive job losses, widespread hunger, dislocation and a runaway federal deficit.
If the federal government done its job properly and followed clear guidelines in place based on past pandemics, much of this could have been avoided. While the current administration makes its claims for a job well done, the fact is that the US response to COVID-19 is one of the worst, with 4% of the world’s population and 21% of the deaths. Totally Under Control looks to put the Trump administration on blast by holding them accountable for its incompetence, corruption and denial in the face of this global pandemic.
The announcement of the release of this film comes after Donald Trump admitted he wanted to play down the pandemic during an interview with Bob Woodard. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” he said in an interview.
Prior to that, Trump publicly said in February that the virus would go away. He said: “We’re in very good shape. We have 11 cases, and most of them are getting better very rapidly.”
Totally Under Control was written by Gibney. He also produces alongside fellow directors Harutyunyan and Hillinger. The film was edited by Lindy Jankura and Alex Keipper, cinematography by Ben Bloodwell and music by Peter Nashel. The film is backed by various well known producing teams with Stacey Offman, Richard Perello of Jigsaw Productions, longtime Gibney/Jigsaw collaborators Alison Ellwood and Maiken Baird, Jeffrey Lurie and Marie Therese Guirgis of Play/Action Pictures, Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant, Tom Quinn, Dan O’Meara and Jeff Deutchman of NEON and Andrew Morrison, Mark Lampert and Michael Sacks of Yellow Bear Films all executive producing.
Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for Neon with Nick Shumaker from UTA Independent Film Group and Jackie Eckhouse from Sloss Eckhouse LLP on behalf of the filmmakers. Altitude is handling foreign sales.
Gibney recently announced that he will next be addressing Russian collusion in the 2016 U.S. election with Agents of Chaos, a two-part film which is set to debut on HBO on September 23. He previously collaborated with HBO on Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief and The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley. Gibney’s credits also include a slate of critically acclaimed relevant docus that have a long-lasting impact on society including We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Taxi to the Dark Side and the recent Citizen K.
Gibney is represented by UTA.