HBO has always had documentaries airing through the Fall but this year they market the programming like they do its Summer Documentary Season. Once again there are a total of ten (10) documentaries. They are on various topics that HBO will air from 10.07 through 12.09. The series will include documentaries from recognizable talent like Whoopi Goldberg and Alec Baldwin as well as award-winning filmmakers whose work has already been seen on HBO. We don’t have a Fall Documentary Series Preview trailer to show or, at least, not yet. HBOWatch will post it when we do and, of course, review all these films as they air. Here is a brief look at the 10 documentaries coming to HBO this fall.
VALENTINE ROAD – debut 10.07.13. This film unravels the school shooting of a young teenager who had begun exploring his gender identity, detailing the circumstances that led to his murder by a fellow student, as well as its complicated aftermath. Directed and produced by first-time filmmaker Marta Cunningham and produced by Sasha Alpert (HBO’s AUTISM: THE MUSICAL) and Eddie Schmidt (HBO’s TWIST OF FAITH), the powerful and disturbing documentary raises questions about the safety of LGBT teens, while challenging the efficacy of the country’s educational and juvenile justice systems to prevent these kinds of tragedies.
MONDAYS AT RACINE, OPEN HEART and REDEMPTION – debut back-to back on 10.14.13. This trio was all nominated for a Documentary Short Subject Oscar earlier this year. Marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MONDAYS AT RACINE, directed by Oscar Winner Cynthia Wade, visits a Long Island beauty salon that opens its doors to women diagnosed with cancer. OPEN HEART, directed by Kief Davidson, follows an Italian cardiologist in Southern Sudan as he fights to save the lives of young patients who have traveled from Rwanda for high-risk heart surgery. REDEMPTION, directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill, Emmy winners for directing HBO’s BAGHDAD ER, looks at the growing army of jobless New Yorkers whose treasures are found in trash through collecting five-cent bottles and cans.
LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM – debuts 10.21.13. This film explores the remarkable world of 16-year old Sam Berns, spotlighting his family’s courageous fight to save their son from the extremely rare and fatal disease Progeria, a progressive aging disorder. An official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it chronicles their inspiring, relentless pursuit of a treatment and cure as they empower Sam to enjoy the fullest life possible. It is directed by Sean and Andrea Fine Oscar winners for Inocente.
SEDUCED AND ABANDONED – debuts 10.28.13. This one follows Alec Baldwin and James Toback as they attempt to make a deal to produce their version of “Last Tango in Paris” at the Cannes Film Festival. From intimate chats with Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Roman Polanski, to the pursuit of high-profile names like Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain, to an expose of backroom wheeling and dealing, this cinematic romp is a humorous ode to everything alluring about cinema. It is directed by James Toback.
TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE debuts 11.04.13. It is an unflinching descent into the shadowy world of black-market organ trafficking: the brokers, the rogue surgeons, the impoverished men and women who are willing to sacrifice an organ for a quick payday and the desperate patients who face the agonizing choice of obeying the law or saving their lives. Directed by Ric Esther Bienstock, narrated by David Cronenberg; produced by Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev and Simcha Jacobovici.
DIAL ONE FOR VETS – debuts 11.11.13. This documentary explores the epidemic of suicide among American war veterans. According to the VA, one veteran dies by suicide in America every 80 minutes, and while only 1% of Americans has served in the military, former service members account for 20% of all suicides in the U.S. Since 2001, more veterans have died by their own hand than in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Directed by Ellen Goosenberg (HBO’s Emmy-winning I HAVE TOURETTE’S BUT TOURETTE’S DOESN’T HAVE ME) and produced by Dana Perry.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG PRESENTS MOMS MABLEY – debuts 11.18.13. This film celebrates the iconic African-American standup comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley, who broke racial and sexual boundaries. Recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians, entertainers and historians underscore her profound influence. It is directed by Whoopi Goldberg.
TOXIC HOT SEAT – debuts 11.25.13. This documentary follows a courageous group of firefighters, mothers, journalists, scientists, politicians and other activists as they fight to expose a shadowy campaign of deception that left a toxic legacy in America’s homes and bodies, and has taken nearly 40 years to unravel. It is directed by James Redford.
THE BATTLE OF AMFAR – debuts 12.02.13. The work shows how Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim fought to create America’s first national AIDS research foundation. An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it chronicles the organization’s history and continuing importance in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (HBO’s Sundance award-winning THE CELLULOID CLOSET).
SIX BY SONDHEIM – debuts 12.09.13 This is an intimate look at the prolific career of renowned Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim (“Company,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd”). A story about both his life and work, the film highlights his experiences writing six of his most celebrated songs: “Something’s Coming,” “Opening Doors,” “Send in the Clowns,” “I’m Still Here,” “Being Alive” and “Sunday.” Told primarily by Sondheim himself, it draws on his extensive personal archive and dozens of interviews from all stages of his career, underscoring his honesty and passion for his art. New performances by such stars as Audra McDonald, Jarvis Cocker, Darren Criss, Jeremy Jordan, America Ferrera and Sondheim himself have been produced exclusively for the feature documentary. It is directed by Tony winner James Lapine, with musical segments directed by Todd Haynes, Autumn de Wilde and James Lapine.
There you go. HBOWatch hopes that you catch those documentaries throughout the Fall that might interest you and check back with us to catch a “gut reaction” to each.