This writer is ready to go on a wild ride with the documentaries slated for the Summer Series on HBO! Are you? There are a total of ten (10) films on a diverse set of topics that will air every Monday from 06.10 through 08.12 this summer. We are going everywhere from Hollywood’s past to its present and from Iowa to Russia. Plus, there are hot topics like crime, environmental concerns and even sex as well. If that hasn’t piqued your interest then, think, I might be able to get you pumped up with the little video HBO has made about the slate. Watch this.
Below is a brief description of each of the documentaries in the series this year. We are sure to find something we like. After that we move on to some other news about future films coming to the channel under the HBO Documentary film banner. Note that each description comes from an HBO press release. HBOWatch will save any commentary for a review after each film airs.
- PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER – debuting 06.10.13. This film tells the story of Nadia, Masha and Katia of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot. In Feb. 2012, they performed a 40-second “punk prayer” inside Russia’s main cathedral, which led to their arrest on charges of religious hatred, followed by a trial that reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society. With unparalleled access and exclusive footage, this timely film looks at the real people behind the colorful balaclavas. Directed and produced by Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin and a Sundance Film Festival Award Winner.
- LOVE, MARILYN – debuting 06.17. This documentary, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, presents remarkable footage and audiotapes along with her recently discovered handwritten letters, diaries, notes, poems, journals and notebooks, which set the icon’s private life against the backdrop of her very public life and loves. The film includes readings and appearances by an all-star cast, including F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Jack Huston, Stephen Lang, Lindsey Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Interviews and rare archival footage feature Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, Amy Greene, Molly Haskell, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Elia Kazan, among others. Directed by Oscar® nominee Liz Garbus.
- MISS YOU CAN DO IT debuting 06.24. This next film spotlights Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa USA 2008, the first woman with a disability to compete at the Miss USA Pageant, as well as eight girls and young women from around the country living with special needs, who participate in the Miss You Can Do It Pageant. Created in 2004 by Curran, the pageant offers them and their families a chance to bond and participate in a special event where inner beauty and abilities reign. Directed by Ron Davis.
- GIDEON’S ARMY debuting 07.01. An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, this documentary follows idealistic young public defenders in the deep south who face particularly difficult challenges due to high bonds, mandatory minimum sentencing and a culture that is traditionally “tough on crime.” Despite low pay, long hours and staggering caseloads, these young professionals, with the help of the Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC), take on the job in the name of public service. Directed by Dawn Porter.
- GASLAND PART II debuting 07.08 This is the provocative follow-up to Josh Fox’s 2011 Academy Award®-nominated “Gasland,” about the controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Employing his trademark dark humor, Fox’s new effort shows how the stakes have been raised on all sides of one of today’s most hotly debated environmental issues.
- THE CRASH REEL debuting 07.15. This sport documentary is directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Lucy Walker, is an exhilarating ride through the life of Kevin Pearce, the American snowboarding champion who suffered a traumatic brain injury while preparing for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. In addition to interviews with Pearce’s close-knit family and friends, the powerful documentary includes footage from hundreds of sources, recorded over two decades that captures the soul of the sport and questions the price people pay for their passions.
- THE CHESHIRE MURDERS debuting 07.22. This film explores the triple rape-arson-homicide that rocked the quiet town of Cheshire, Ct. in July 2007, culminating in a politically charged death-penalty trial. Debuting in conjunction with the sixth anniversary of the murders, the documentary draws on exclusive interviews spanning half a decade, uncovering the shocking, previously untold drama behind the story and revealing a family and community changed forever. Directed by Emmy® winner Kate Davis and David Heilbronner.
- FIRST COMES LOVE debuting 07.29. It follows director Nina Davenport’s quest to have a baby on her own, ranging from hormone injections to post-natal chaos while highlighting her conventional family’s reaction to her unconventional decision. Unsparingly honest, occasionally hilarious and ultimately moving, the documentary offers a fresh take on parenthood.
- CASTING BY debuting 08.05. This one spotlights one of filmmaking’s unsung heroes – the casting director – viewing the last half-century of Hollywood history from a different perspective. Iconoclastic casting pioneers like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster used their exquisite taste and gut instincts to reject traditional Hollywood typecasting and bring new kinds of leading men and women to the screen, such as Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman. In the process, they helped change the old studio system and usher in a new Hollywood through movies like “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Graduate,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” Directed by Tom Donahue
- AMERICANS IN BED debuting 0812. This documentary features candid interviews with ten American couples – captured in the comfort of their own beds – as they openly discuss sex, infidelity and love. From young New Yorkers who have split up 26 times, to spouses in their 90s who have been married 71 years, this touching, funny and often surprising film offers intimate insights into what makes or breaks a relationship. Directed by Phillipa Robinson.
But, that is not all. Here also, as promised, are additional HBO Documentary Films obtained by or commissioned to be filmed for HBO.
- A Frank Sinatra Documentary
Documentarian Alex Gibney, behind such works as Taxi to the Dark Side and MEA CULPA MAXIMA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD, will now be taking on the subject of Frank Sinatra in what will surely be an intimate look of the man and his music.
It is said that never before seen footage, both home movies and on set moments, will be used along many scenes from both private and professional performances. Though still untitled this is looked upon as an official documentary on his life as it is co-produced with Frank Sinatra Enterprises.
- A Nora Ephron Documentary
The late celebrated writer/producer of many a Hollywood film gets a full documentary feature for HBO. Produced by her son, journalist Jacob Bernstein, this film will take an intimate look behind the mind of such movies as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle.
News of the doc comes nearly a year after Ephron — at once a journalist, novelist, playwright, director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter — died of pneumonia at the age of 71. Just recently actor Tom Hanks, who has performed in a few of her works, teared up after performing one of her plays in New York.
- A Robert De Niro Documentary
In a new documentary from director Perri Peltz (”The Education of Dee Dee Ricks”), Robert De Niro will actually be able to examine the life of his father, Robert, a painter and bohemian figure who died in 1993 at the age of 71. Apparently Robert Sr. would find success as an Abstract Expressionist painter, exhibiting in galleries and museums around the world.
The actor, De Niro Jr. will produce the work and will surely appear in the film with recollections about his father and his influence on his own life.
- James Toback’s SEDUCED AND ABANDONED
HBO has acquired all television rights for the U.S. and Canada to director James Toback’s feature documentary SEDUCED AND ABANDONED, which will make its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival.Guided by Alec Baldwin and James Toback, this documentary is a cinematic exploration of several interconnected subjects: The Cannes Film Festival and cinema art, money, glamour and death. Shot during the 65th Anniversary Festival in 2012, it features fascinating and original portraits of Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo, Diane Kruger and James Caan.
- Whoopi Goldberg’s MOMS MABLEY: I GOT SOMETHIN’ TO TELL YOU
MOMS MABLEY: I GOT SOMETHIN’ TO TELL YOU is a feature-length documentary about the iconic stand-up comedienne. The documentary was obtained by HBO at the Tribeca Film Festival and is directed by Whoopi Goldberg.
Breaking racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the African-American stand-up comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. In the documentary Goldberg explores Mabley’s legacy through recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians, entertainers and historians.
Finally, on that note, we conclude our look at upcoming HBO Documentary Films. They are a vital part of HBO’s programming and HBOWatch will watch and review them all. Whenever you catch a documentary or two from the lineup how about stopping by here to pass comment? We’d love to hear from you.