THE ARMSTRONG LIE
About the Production
"I didn't live a lot of lies. But I lived one big one. You
know, it's different I guess. Maybe it's not. But yeah,
it's... And what I said in there with just how this story is
all over the place and there are these two... you know, these
just complete opposite narratives. You know... The only
person that can actually start to let people understand
what the true narrative is, is me. And you should know that
better than anybody else to the get into the... the real
nature and the real detail of the story. Because we haven't
heard it yet is the truth."
-- Lance Armstrong; January 14, 2013
In The ARMSTRONG Lie, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney turns
his camera on one of the most riveting stories in the history of sports, the impossible rise
and spectacular fall from grace of former cycling champion and inspirational hero, Lance
Born and raised in Texas, Lance Armstrong entered the world of professional
cycling at the age of 21 in 1992. For the next four years he displayed prominence in
several key races including a 1st
place finish in the 1993 UCI Road World Championship
in Norway. Diagnosed with life-threatening metastasized cancers in October 1996, he
underwent testicular and brain surgeries, and extensive chemotherapy treatments. By
early 1997, however, Armstrong had emerged victorious in his battle with cancer
(establishing the Lance Armstrong Foundation later that year). Remarkably, by 1998,
Armstrong against all odds had returned to professional racing.
Lance Armstrong went on to become one of the most remarkable figures in sports 6
history, winning his first Tour de France (cycling's greatest race and one of the world's
most grueling athletic competitions) the following year, in 1999. From there his legend
Armstrong published his bestselling memoir: "It's Not About the Bike: My
Journey Back to Life," in 2000. Between 1999 and 2005 he would go on to win the Tour
de France a record seven times in a row. Though dogged (as were other cyclists) by
persistent rumors of using illicit performance enhancing drugs, Armstrong, during this
phase of his career, was consistently certified as drug-free by cycling's governing bodies
and continued to race -- and win.
With his remarkable tale of personal triumph and racing victories, Armstrong
brought a never before seen prominence to the sport itself and raised vast sums for
charity (with millions alone though the sale of yellow 'Livestrong' bracelets). Basking in
the glow of international celebrity, he also remained an inspiration to cancer patients and
survivors, symbolizing the potential of the human spirit. Through sponsorships, product
licensing and endorsements, he had also amassed a vast personal fortune.
In the spring of 2005, Armstrong, approaching his 34th
birthday, announced his
retirement from professional cycling. It would follow his seventh back-to-back Tour de
France victory later that summer (completing the event, notably, at the fastest pace in the
race's history), citing his desire to spend more time with his children. ""My children are
my biggest supporters," said Armstrong at the time. "But at the same time, they are the
ones who told me it's time to come home."
By September 2008, however, Lance Armstrong announced that he would return
to cycling - with no less a goal than competing in the 2009 Tour de France. With the
promise of unfettered access and a remarkable story in the making, acclaimed filmmaker,
Alex Gibney, signed up to go along for the ride.
A veteran documentarian, Gibney is the filmmaker behind the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side and the 2006 Oscar-nominated Enron: The
Smartest Guys in the Room. Heralded by Esquire magazine -- "[Gibney]...is becoming
the most important documentarian of our time" -- his remarkable list of credits includes:
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks; Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer;
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and the Jack Abramoff
documentary, Casino Jack and the United States of Money.
Given unprecedented access to Armstrong and the world of professional cycling,
Gibney turned his cameras on the sports legend, his teammates and trainers (including
the controversial Italian physician and coach, Michele Ferrari) in 2008-2009, embarking
on what he believed would prove the ultimate comeback story under the working title:
"The Road Back." Joined by his production team, he followed Armstrong's progress for
a little over a year (joining Armstrong for the 2009 Tour de France and again for the 2010
Tour) and all but completed his edit in 2011. But what Gibney, along with most
observers, couldn't anticipate were the events which would unfold -- a US Federal
criminal inquiry (subsequently dropped without charges), and more crucially, an
investigation by the regulatory body, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA),
which would ultimately end Armstrong's career.
Gibney's project was suspended as the story of the doping scandal supplanted that
of Armstrong's comeback in the public eye. It was re-opened as Armstrong stepped
forward to make his public confession in 2013. Envisioned as the ultimate comeback
story, The ARMSTRONG Lie instead presents a riveting, inside view of the unraveling of
one of the most extraordinary legends in the history of sports.
"Ultimately, it's a cautionary tale," says the legendary producer and five-time
Academy Award-nominee, Frank Marshall (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button;
Seabiscuit; The Sixth Sense; The Color Purple; Raiders of the Lost Ark), who had
remained determined for years to make a film about Armstrong.
"It's also a riveting story," says Marshall's producing partner and former President of Columbia Pictures, Matt Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man; The Amazing
Spider-Man 2). "It's a deep dive into the psyche of Lance Armstrong, what this man did,
what this story was that he told and why -- and why we all believed it."
"It was just such a good story. Who wouldn't want to believe in that story," says
Alex Gibney of the Armstrong legend and his new film. "But it just didn't happen to be
Gibney discusses his new film in detail, its circuitous route to the screen, and his
relationship with Lance Armstrong in the following director's statement - prepared as he
readied The ARMSTRONG Lie for its international premiere at the Venice Film Festival
from his edit suite in New York.
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