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Alex Gibney, ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room’

The Nominees: Documentaries

For Gibney, who adapted Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind’s book for his doc “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” the biggest challenge was how to structure the complicated issues involved in the scandal in an understandable way.

“For a while I thought I might include myself in the film,” he says, “in which case I would’ve written it in a more personal tone. There was even a wacky moment where I imagined — and he didn’t agree — that because we had so many Tom Waits songs in the film, that I would get him to narrate. He would be speaking and then suddenly he would break into song. ‘Enron the Musical.'”

In the end, Gibney chose Peter Coyote’s “Henry Fonda-like voice from the heartland” to relate the knotty story of Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skillings, Andrew Fastow and one of the biggest bankruptcies in American history. “I knew that no one was going to follow the detail of some of these complex financial transactions,” says Gibney, “so I kept two ideas in mind simultaneously: Follow the money, follow the characters: Fastow, Lay, Skilling.”

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