A few weeks ago I got to see Alex Gibney’s new documentary Zero Days.  I recollect how quiet the theatre was once the end credits finished and the lights came on. Most of us were trying to process the film and the impact it had on each of us. Afterwards Gibney along with 2 computer security experts did a Q&A, where we got our questions answered.

To use a hackneyed phrase Zero Days is an absorbing watch about the Stuxnet virus and how it was unleashed in the world. “We are,” Gibney said, “in a whole new arms race” to Steven Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times. And the film does remind you of that long forgotten 20thc spectre of a nuclear arms race and cold war.

In 2010 the Stuxnet virus was discovered in Iran, where it had infected their industrial machines. How did it happen, and how did this malware come to infect Iran’s industrial machines especially the uranium enrichment plan is the story that Gibney tracks in this film. The Stuxnet virus was a very sophisticated one that attacked only Windows computers. It is believed that nation-states may have been involved in the creation of this virus as the film points out.

Zero Day refers to the fact that there is no notice given once hackers discover a zero day vulnerability in the computer system. Once hackers discover the zero day exploit they can introduce worms and malware into the system and create havoc.

Zero Day  makes for a gripping watch and leaves you thinking and scratching your head about what really goes on in the world of cyberspace. Do regular folks have the foggiest notion? “Zero Days is a cold, two-hour, sky-is-falling case designed to make everyone agree, ” writes Jordan Hoffman in The Guardian. I suspect pretty much that is how you’ll feel after you watching Zero Days.

You can read interviews with Gibney on Zero Days in Reason and in The Guardian newspaper.

Zero Days releases on July 8, 2016 in the USA. It is also available on demand and on Amazon and iTunes.


Photos: San Francisco Internatonal Film Festival

The 58th San Francisco Internatonal Film Festival is underway, and this year they have a really terrific lineup.The opening night film was Alex Gibney’s much talked about documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.” The film explores our collective fascination with Jobs, and delves into what values shaped this iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur.


Rachel Rosen, Alex Gibney & Noah Cowan on the opening night of San Francisco International Film Festival, 2015

Rachel Rosen, Alex Gibney & Noah Cowan on the opening night of San Francisco International Film Festival, 2015

Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: Man In The Machine,” was the opening night film at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival.

In this 120 minute long documentary we get to see Steve Jobs up close and personal and discover facets of him like his obsession with Zen Buddhism. Jobs apparently wanted to be a monk ever since he was a teenager. Kobun Chino Otogawa was his Zen teacher. This fact is normally mentioned in passing, and not many people have looked at the influence of Zen Buddhism on Jobs as Gibney does in the film. Zen is derived from the Sanskrit tern “dhyana” or meditation.

The film deconstructs and reconstructs Jobs personality in an interesting way with an eye on the influence of Zen Buddhism and Japan. How did these Buddhist and Japanese values and way of work influence Jobs at a personal and professional life? He was a monk without the empathy of a monk Gibney points out at one stage in the film.

Gibney also looks at how Jobs influenced our lives especially our relationship with computers and machines.

Gibney wants us to “Think Different” about Jobs. We see Jobs in various avatars from being stressed and uncertain to being very happy, intense and defensive on protecting his first love – Apple. You will have to watch the film to find out if you come out thinking differently about Jobs.

A prolific and an award winning filmmaker Gibney has 3 films out this year: “Going Clear: Scientology, and the Prison of Belief,” “Sinatra: All or Nothing at All” (a TV mini series) and “Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine.”

You can follow Alex Gibney on Twitter.



Our Obsession With Steve Jobs – “The Man In The Machine”

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

We are obsessed with Steve Jobs. We just can’t seem to get enough of him. There is a new book out about Jobs and two different films about the iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. This is not including the 2011 book by Walter Isaacson and the 2013 Hollywood film “Jobs,” with Ashton Kutcher that did not do well at the box-office.

Jobs” was the book Isaacson wrote with inputs from Jobs himself. The story goes that Jobs reached out to Isaacson to write this authorized biography. Released in 2011 right after Jobs passed away, the book became an instant hit. Folks made a beeline to buy the book, and so did I. This was the book to read to find out the story of Jobs, and his obsession with technology, fonts and his trip to India.

What we have come to learn since the publication of Isaacson’s book is that folks in Apple were not exactly happy with it. Earlier this year Sir Jonathan Ive had this to say in an interview with Ian Parker of the The New  Yorker magazine:

“In a later conversation, Ive said that he’d read only parts of the book, but had seen enough to dislike it, for what he called inaccuracies. “

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook seems to share Ive’s feelings about Isaacson’s book. This is what Cook says in a new book on Jobs, excerpts of which were published in Fortune.

“I thought the Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice,” says  Cook, speaking out three years later. “It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality.”

So, now there is a new book on Jobs with inputs from key people in Apple and Laurene Powell-Jobs. “Becoming Steve Jobs,” by Rick Tetzeli and  Brent Schlender was released last month. You can read reviews of the book here and here.

Besides this new book there are two new films on Jobs. The first is a film by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle who just wrapped up the shooting of the film in San Francisco bay area. Boyle’s film is due to release by the end of this year. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winselet and others. The film is based on  Isaacson’s biography on Jobs.

Then there is a new documentary by Alex Gibney called “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” that made its debut at South By South West earlier this year. This film looks at Jobs with a critical eye at his leadership and legacy.

Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” has created quite a bit of buzz here in San Francisco bay area. It is the opening night film for the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival, where Gibney will be in attendance. This is the film I am looking forward. What new dimensions of Jobs will we discover in this film? Jobs changed our world and how we experience the world in so many different ways. But, how did he do that? Perhaps that is what this film is about. I don’t know. I will find out tomorrow when I watch the film.

And one more thing – if  you want to see every Steve Jobs video there is a YouTube channel for that. Here is a candid interview with Jobs on his legacy from a 1994 interview.

 Photo: Jon Snyder/