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Alex Gibney Tackles Trump’s Coronavirus Response in Documentary ‘Totally Under Control’

Neon will release the film from the Oscar-winning filmmaker in October ahead of the election

Alex Gibney has a new documentary film called “Totally Under Control” aimed at President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Neon will release the movie this October ahead of the general election, the distributor announced Thursday.

Gibney, an Oscar winner for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” has been quietly filming the documentary alongside co-directors Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger for the past four months. In “Totally Under Control” they ask the simple question as deaths — which currently number 190,000 in the U.S. — have continued to rise, “How did this happen?”

Gibney criticizes carelessly designed lockdowns and how the economic effects of those lockdowns have led to 23 million job losses, not to mention widespread hunger, dislocation and a runaway federal deficit. The documentary asserts that much of this destruction could have been avoided if the federal government had followed guidelines and acted properly, even as the Trump administration makes a case for a job well done.

“Totally Under Control” dates back to January 20 when the U.S. and South Korea both discovered their first cases and how nine months later the coronavirus pandemic has told two completely different stories across the two countries. The film includes testimony from public health officials and aims to be the definitive account of the Trump administration’s failure in the face of the pandemic.

“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,” Gibney said in a statement. “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,’ Trump said) in hopes that voters wouldn’t notice any problems until after the 2020 election.”

He continued: “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.”

“Totally Under Control” was written by Gibney and produced and directed by Gibney, 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 executive produced by 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.

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 is a producer on Showtime’s Jamal Khashoggi documentary “Kingdom of Silence” and most recently is directing “Agents of Chaos” for HBO. Gibney is represented by UTA.