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If sports stories often fascinate for the ways in which they form distilled metaphors for human existence -- the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and everything in between -- the saga of Lance Armstrong is particularly intriguing as an examination of public deception, conspiracy and how we are all susceptible to believing our own hype.
The first trailer for Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Armstrong Lie” finds the Oscar-winning filmmaker sparring with the disgraced cyclist. Gibney originally set out to make a film called “The Road Back” that would chronicle seven-time-winner Armstrong’s comeback to the Tour de France in 2009 after having survived cancer.
Armstrong didn’t win but Gibney nevertheless pressed on with the project, more or less completing his film. Then, in the face of growing evidence and accusations, in early 2013 Armstrong confessed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was guilty of all the cheating he had previously denied. Gibney suddenly had more work to do.
“He had lied to me,” Gibney says in the trailer. “He owed me an explanation.”
In an interview when “The Armstrong Lie” recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Gibney recalled his feelings regarding Armstrong’s revelations. “I was angry that I felt that I’d been part of a PR campaign. That made me angry … and the fact that he’d looked me in the eye and lied to me any number of times.”
Earlier this year, Gibney also released the documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks,” which dovetailed the stories of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and convicted leaker/whistleblower Bradley Manning. Where Gibney maintained access to Armstrong even after his confession, landing two additional interviews after his interview with Winfrey, on the “Wikileaks” film he never had access at all to Manning and negotiations over an interview with Assange broke down.
“The Armstrong Lie” opens Nov. 8 in New York and Los Angeles.
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