January 18th, 2013

CNN Films Announces Acquisitions, Production Deals at Sundance

Collaborations with Directors Steve James, Andrew Rossi, and Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein with Executive Producers Justine Nagan, Martin Scorsese, Gordon Quinn, Steve Zaillian

CNN Films, a production and acquisition unit of CNN Worldwide, will announce three new projects from filmmakers Andrew Rossi, the co-directorial team of Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, as well as a third project directed by Steve James to be executive produced by Justine Nagan, Gordon Quinn, Martin Scorsese, Steve Zaillian, at a reception co-hosted tonight by CNN Films and the Sundance Institute in Park City on Friday, Jan. 18.

CNN is acquiring the U.S. broadcast rights to a documentary about the life of Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, film critic and screenwriter, based upon Ebert’s own memoir, Life Itself.  The film is being produced by Kartemquin Films and Film Rites with James directing and Nagan, Scorsese, Quinn and Zaillian as executive producers.  It will be theatrically released prior to the CNN airing in 2014.

The projects associated with Tucker/Epperlein and Rossi are expected to air on CNN in 2013.  The untitled Tucker/Epperlein-directed project uses the prism of still photography to reconstruct the events at Ground Zero, and around the country, in the days immediately after the September 11th attacks.  The film reveals secret stories behind some of the most extraordinary pictures from that horrific day, and examines how images help us heal and understand.

The yet untitled film to be directed by Rossi examines the historic transformation underway in higher education. Told through the stories of students, educators, and administrators, from the Ivy League to community colleges across the country, the film looks at the costs – and questions of relevance and innovation – that are shaping the future of college as we know it in America.

“CNN is proud to announce these production agreements at this festival which has done so much to support independent storytelling,” says Mark Whitaker, managing editor for CNN Worldwide.  “Our aim at CNN Films is to showcase the work of exceptional documentary filmmakers and to build conversations around the issues they raise across our global platforms.”

CNN Films acquired “Girl Rising” in spring 2012.  The documentary is directed by Richard E. Robbins and executive produced by Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon of the Documentary Group and Paul G. Allen of Vulcan Productions.  A sneak peek of a segment of “Girl Rising” will take place at Sundance on Monday evening, Jan. 21.  The film portrays the inspiring stories of nine girls from around the world, struggling to overcome incredible odds to achieve an education.  Vocal performances by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway, and actresses Selena Gomez and Kerry Washington for the film were announced in October.  At Sundance, it was also announced that Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, actress Priyanka Chopra, Academy Award winner Salma Hayek, musician Alicia Keys, actresses Freida Pinto and Chloë Moretz, and actor Liam Neeson will also contribute vocal performances to the documentary.  The film’s theatrical debut in March and broadcast premiere on CNN in June 2013 will follow the Sundance sneak preview.

About CNN Films

CNN Films brings documentaries beyond the small screen by developing strategic partnerships to leverage distribution opportunities at film festivals and in theaters.  Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, oversee the acquisition strategy of documentaries for CNN Films.  Malhotra manages the day-to-day operation of CNN Films, and works directly with filmmakers to develop original projects.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively-syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.


CNN / CNN Films