Theranos and Silicon Valley get bloodied in Alex Gibney’s ‘The Inventor’

Alex Gibney has made more than two dozen features in his award-winning documentary filmmaking career, which includes an Academy award for “Taxi to the Dark Side” and a nomination for “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” But he still feels a thrill when a stunning piece of new audio or video comes in.

Gibney’s latest film about Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” benefitted from leaked footage late in the production, offering a rare look the inside of the troubled Silicon Valley lab that promised to require less blood for advanced medical tests – including Holmes and other executives celebrating with an unforgettably awkward dance to the MC Hammer song “Can’t Touch This.”

“It feels like you died and went to heaven,” Gibney said, describing the first time his filmmaking team looked at the hubris-filled video. “… (They were acting) like they had invented penicillin or something like that. It was crazy.”

The fall of Theranos has been well documented since Holmes’ tech legend aspirations imploded in 2015, in the wake of whistleblower-aided reporting about possibly fraudulent testing procedures in the company’s labs. Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, who broke the story, wrote the superb best-selling novel “Bad Blood.” The podcast series “The Dropout” offered more Holmes-related content.

But “The Inventor,” which premieres at 9 p.m. Monday, March 18, on HBO (with a one-week run beginning Friday at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco), asks and answers different questions. Gibney, who has directed films about Scientology, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and corrupt lobbyist Jack Madoff, seems once again fascinated by the human motivations behind alleged fraud.

“When people come to me and say, ‘You should really do something about X subject,’ my first question is usually, ‘What’s the story?’ ” Gibney said, during a recent interview in San Francisco. “There are plenty of subjects that are interesting and important, but maybe that’s a better print article or magazine article. … (What) I tend to look for are interesting and dramatic characters and situations, and stories that are riveting in and of themselves.”

Gibney has been through Silicon Valley before, directing, writing and narrating his Steve Job film “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine.” But he admitted he hadn’t been following the rise of Holmes, and was alerted to the documentary potential by former HBO chairman Richard Plepler and former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

Holmes was a 19-year-old Stanford dropout when she founded Theranos, a company that promised to revolutionize health care, by creating mobile testing centers that could diagnose diseases and manage health with just a drop a blood. At one point, the company was valued at $9 billion, with blood-testing centers built in dozens of Walgreens locations. But Holmes and company president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were accused of lying to investors and their board – which included heavyweights George Shultz, Henry Kissinger and future U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

After lawsuits and criminal investigations, the company shut down in 2018.

“Silicon Valley very consciously uses the script …read more

Source:: Daily times


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