Sony Hack Movie in the Works from Oscar-Nominated Team (Exclusive)
Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer have begun working on a documentary that explores the culprit behind the cyberattack that captivated Hollywood.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
It only was a matter of time.
The first film to address the Sony Pictures hack is in the works, from the team behind 2013’s Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning documentary The Square from Netflix. Spouses Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer quietly are working on a documentary that explores the cyberattack, whose twists and turns captivated Hollywood late last year, culminating with Sony’s Amy Pascal stepping down from the co-chairman post under CEO Michael Lynton in February.
The untitled film is expected to drop new bombshells. Sources say director Noujaim and producer Amer will put forth alternative theories about the hack’s culprit. (Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer’s Mike Lerner also is producing.) After the breach was detected Nov. 24, focus immediately shifted to North Korea, which had expressed outrage over The Interview. On Dec. 19, the FBI and President Obama fingered the rogue nation as the perpetrator.
But many in the cybersecurity community believe that the attack likely was an inside job given that the hackers exhibited intimate knowledge of the architecture of Sony’s servers. Others are skeptical about how an isolated regime could pull off such a sophisticated media campaign (outlets like THR that received direct missives from the hackers appeared to have been carefully targeted). And North Korea has denied culpability. To date, the only group officially to take credit for the attack is the so-called Guardians of Peace, whose identity remains shrouded in mystery.
Amer and Noujaim, whose The Square chronicled the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and won three Emmys, already were working on a doc about international cyberattacks when the Sony story began unfolding, and they decided to use that hack — one of the largest and most damaging in corporate history — as an entry point for a broader look at the phenomenon of cyber aggression. But sources say that when John Sloss, whose Cinetic Media repped The Square at Sundance two years ago, approached several power brokers entangled in the hack about speaking on camera, he repeatedly was rebuffed.
“The Sony story is an important chapter in this larger issue,” says Amer, who declined to discuss any roadblocks encountered or the film’s narrative specifics. “The analysts and experts we speak to see it as the 9/11 of cyberattacks, and the implications will be felt for years to come.”