September 12th, 2014
06:51 PM ET

Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films Acquire North American Rights to "Sunshine Superman"

World Premiere at the 2014 TIFF; U.S. Premiere at the New York Film Festival on Monday, Oct. 6

The Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films announced today that they have acquired North American rights to SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, a heart-racing documentary portrait of Carl Boenish, "the father of BASE jumping," whose early passion for skydiving led him to ever more spectacular — and dangerous — feats of foot-launched human flight by first-time feature filmmaker Marah Strauch at the Toronto International Film Festival.   Magnolia Pictures has acquired the theatrical, VOD and home entertainment rights; CNN Films has acquired the television broadcast distribution rights.

“Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films are the perfect partners for Sunshine Superman, a film about taking risks and following your dreams,” said Director Marah Strauch. “We are very excited to share our film with people all across the country and to be working with a team that understands the power of documentaries that not only change the world, but also entertain.”

A Scissor Kick Films, Flimmer Films, and Submarine Entertainment Production, SUNSHINE SUPERMAN will make its U.S. debut next month at the prestigious New York Film Festival. CNN Films will broadcast the film exclusively on the network in 2016, following a 2015 theatrical release by Magnolia. FULL POST

September 3rd, 2014
04:53 PM ET

Was Boston’s Most Notorious Gangster an Informant?

WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger set to premiere on CNN on Thursday, Sept. 18

Long before he became the top dog of the “Winter Hill Gang” mob, James “Whitey” Bulger’s ‘resume’ already included tenure as an inmate at Alcatraz – an infamous maximum security federal penitentiary that was reserved for the nation’s most dangerous felons. Later, for nearly 30 years, Bulger frightened, threatened, intimidated, murdered, extorted, dealt drugs to, and robbed residents of Boston. The South Boston native is suspected of taking part in 19 murders – seven by his own hand – executed with such brutality that Bulger was at one point second only to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.

CNN Films’ WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is a revelatory nonfiction feature film that follows the sensational 2013 trial of the notorious mob boss. Produced by Radical Media, in association with Third Eye Motion Picture Company, this riveting, two-hour film is directed and produced by Joe Berlinger and produced by Caroline Suh. It will premiere at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern on Thursday, Sept. 18, on CNN/U.S..

Using the courtroom action as a springboard to examine accusations of multifaceted corruption within our nation’s law enforcement and legal systems, the film explores new evidence that Bulger may have been aided and abetted by our nation’s top law enforcement agencies that knew about his crimes – and even helped cover them up.

The film includes the voice of James Bulger himself, in his first-ever media interview. Bulger, who responds to questions via telephone with his defense attorney J.W. Carney, Jr., for the film, discusses his relationships with investigators, his negotiations with prosecutors, and his proposal to plead guilty in an attempt to absolve his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig, with whom he lived as a fugitive for more than 15 years.

“The goal of including Bulger in the film was not to take sides or to diminish his crimes,” says director Joe Berlinger. “Bulger is a brutal killer and deserves to be behind bars. However, the families of the victims deserve to hear why Bulger was allowed to kill with impunity.”

The production team embedded for months with victims’ families, FBI agents, Massachusetts State Police, federal prosecutors, Bulger’s defense attorneys, and former gangsters, for extraordinary access to explore the allegations of corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement. The film pulls back the curtain on long-held Bulger mythology, detailing shocking, new allegations of collusion, and accusations of federal and police corruption.

“What makes this trial extraordinary – and really crazy – is the defense is defending him from an assertion that he was an informant– even though it is not a charge...It’s not about guilt or innocence in this trial. It’s about his legacy – of wanting to establish he wasn’t a tout, a rat, an informant…,” David Boeri, senior reporter for Boston’s WBUR radio says in the film.

“We commissioned this film as a way to present – and challenge – the allegations of conspiracy and government and police corruption that have surrounded this case,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president for development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide.   “Berlinger and his team have masterfully woven multiple perspectives of the Whitey Bulger case into a provocative story of crime and punishment.” FULL POST

August 13th, 2014
11:39 AM ET

Her new mission: retired U.S. Navy SEAL fights for transgender acceptance in new CNN Film

World television premiere of LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story is Thursday, Sept. 4

Despite 20 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, including 13 tours of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kristin Beck says that her struggles for acceptance and respect as a transgender American represent her most difficult mission.  Beck is a highly-decorated veteran who once stood atop Saddam Hussein’s palace, trained in special tactical warfare, and served on SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 5, and SEAL Team 6 as senior chief Christopher Beck of the U.S. Navy.

Executive produced by Herzog & Company (HCO) in association with Easy Day Media Group, LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story, is produced by Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowen and directed by Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog.  The two-hour film will premiere on CNN/U.S. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm Eastern.

In 2013, approximately 18 months after her retirement from active service, Beck was the first person to come out publicly as a transgender former Navy SEAL in an extended profile on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° – surprising friends, colleagues, and family.  She also disclosed her identity on LinkedIn.   While many around her have been supportive, some have expressed more bigotry than she ever expected.

“CNN Films is proud to have commissioned such a unique and important film.  LADY VALOR is a powerful statement on our preconceived notions and prejudices of transgender Americans.  Kristin Beck is a dynamic individual, whose outspoken voice allows us a deeper understanding of such an emotionally intense, personal transformation,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide. FULL POST

August 6th, 2014
01:24 PM ET

Watergate at 40: CNN Films airs 'Our Nixon' – Friday, Aug. 8 at 9pm

Throughout Richard Nixon’s presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. This unique and personal visual record, created by H.R. Halde­man, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years.

OUR NIXON presents those home movies to the public - along with other rare footage and rare audio recordings - creating an intimate and com­plex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before.  As the 40th anniversary of Nixon's historic resignation approaches, CNN Films will broadcast this unique film.

The special presentation of OUR NIXON will air on Friday, August 8 at 9:00pm Eastern on CNN/U.S.

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July 15th, 2014
12:45 PM ET

CNN Honored with 11 News and Documentary Emmy Nominations

CNN Worldwide has been honored with eleven nominations for the 35th Annual News and Documentary Awards. CNN’s diverse nominations include:

Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast

Anderson Cooper 360

Boston Bombing Victim Vows to Dance Again

 

Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis

Anderson Cooper 360 

Guns Under Fire: An AC360 Town Hall

 

Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story

CNN Newsroom

CNN's Coverage of Typhoon Haiyan

 

Outstanding Science and Technology Programming

CNN Films

Escape Fire

 

Best Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast

Anderson Cooper 360

Rehab Racket

 

Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Long Form

CNN Films

Girl Rising

 

Outstanding Video Journalism: News

Mark Phillips, CNN – Reporting from Afghanistan and the Philippines

 

Outstanding Lighting Directions & Scenic Design

CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute

 

Outstanding Newscast or News Magazine in Spanish

CNN en Español

Panorama Mundial

 

Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in Spanish

CNN en Español

Pope Election

 

Outstanding Promotional Announcement – Episodic

CNN Films: Blackfish 

In addition to these eleven News and Documentary Emmy nominations, Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy have been nominated for a combined nine Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy Awards. FULL POST

July 3rd, 2014
08:42 AM ET

DOCUMENTED encores Saturday, July 5 at 9:00pmET

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in a 2011 essay for The New York Times Magazine, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.”  Vargas had come to the U.S. at the age of 12 when he was sent from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, Calif.  He attended San Francisco State University, and pursued a career in print journalism, working at newspapers in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, DC – all the while, managing to keep his citizenship status secret. 

In his emotional journey he chronicles in his film DOCUMENTED, Vargas describes his legal struggles, his new role as an activist to raise awareness to immigrant rights, and his complicated reconnection with his mother, half a world away.

DOCUMENTED encores on Saturday, July 5 at 9:00pm Eastern on CNN/U.S.

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CNN Films Acquires 41ON41 for Broadcast as 41st President Celebrates 90th Birthday
June 2nd, 2014
10:42 AM ET

CNN Films Acquires 41ON41 for Broadcast as 41st President Celebrates 90th Birthday

Compelling film uniquely profiles President George H. W. Bush with 41 voices of those closest to him

for premiere Sunday, June 15 at 9:00pmET

CNN Films announced today that it will premiere 41ON41, a unique, multidimensional profile of President George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, from 41 extraordinary storytellers who know the president best. The revealing, two-hour film weaves first-person accounts that explore the historic policy decisions and personal life experiences that shaped President Bush’s life and distinguished his presidency. The two-hour film will debut Sunday, June 15 at 9:00pm and encore at 11:00pm Eastern.

Three days prior to the Father’s Day evening broadcast, on June 12, 2014, President Bush will celebrate his 90th birthday in Kennebunkport, Maine, with family, friends, and former colleagues from his White House years.

41ON41 is executive produced by President Bush’s former White House speechwriter, Mary Kate Cary, and Rick Kaplan, formerly of CNN and ABC News. The award-winning film team also includes Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax at Lookalike Productions who produced and directed the film. FULL POST

May 22nd, 2014
02:05 PM ET

DOCUMENTED to Bow June 29 After Successful Festival, Theatrical Runs

Television premiere of critically-acclaimed film, DOCUMENTED, debuts at 9:00pm on Sunday, June 29 on CNN/U.S.

CNN announced today that it will broadcast the critically-acclaimed DOCUMENTED, a biographical film that also explores themes of identity and unauthorized immigration through the personal journey of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas.  DOCUMENTED, which will debut on Sunday, June 29, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm ET on CNN/U.S., premiered at the 2013 AFI Docs Film Festival and is currently in distribution in theaters.

“DOCUMENTED exemplifies CNN’s new strategy for long-form nonfiction films: the in-depth examination of major issues of our time.  Jose’s personal, revealing narrative, puts faces – including his own – on a major issue, showing what living in the shadows is like for undocumented immigrants across America,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development.

Written and directed by Vargas, with technology entrepreneur Sean Parker, Matthew Hiltzik (Paper Clips), philanthropist Liz Simons, Scott Budnick (The Hangover series), Janet Yang (The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt), and Kevin Iwashina as executive producers, DOCUMENTED opens with Vargas describing how his journey began to other young people, many of whom live in mixed status immigrant families.

In 2011, Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in a personal essay in The New York Times MagazineAt the age of 12 years old, Vargas was sent from the Philippines to live with his mother’s parents in Mountain View, CA.  Vargas attended high school and college in California, and pursued a career in journalism, living and working in newsrooms in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC.  In 2008, Vargas earned a Pulitzer prize with his colleagues at The Washington Post for coverage of the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University.

While accumulating professional successes, Vargas kept his citizenship status a secret until publishing his groundbreaking essay.  He then began traveling around the country telling his story and listening to others, in part, reigniting the national debate on what defines “American.”  Self-reflection during these connections with others,  influenced Vargas’ emotional reconnection with his mother, whom he had not seen in 20 years.

As a writer and a filmmaker who is not legally recognized by the country he calls his home, Vargas says his film is an act of civil disobedience and meant to show how “a broken immigration system means broken families and broken lives.”  He added, “Immigration is about families and DOCUMENTED is a love story between a mother and son.”

DOCUMENTED will be available, in simulcast, through CNNx for iPad, as well as through “Watch CNN” via www.cnn.com and CNN’s mobile applications.   The two-hour film will also encore on CNN/U.S. on Saturday, July 5, at 9:00pm and 11:00pm ET.

Personal stories from Vargas’ travels and own reflections, and more information about DOCUMENTED will be published on CNN.com before the premiere of the film on CNN/U.S.  More information about the film may be found by visiting www.cnn.com/cnnfilms.

Other upcoming CNN Films include LADY VALOR: The Kristin Beck Story, a film about the personal journey of former U.S. Navy SEAL Christopher Beck, now Kristin Beck; DINOSAUR 13, about paleontologist Peter Larson’s multiyear odyssey to bring his history-making find of the Tyrannosaurus rex “Sue” to the world; IVORY TOWER, which examines the financial value of a traditional college education; WHITEY: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger, about the crimes, capture, and conviction of the notorious Boston gangster; and LIFE ITSELF, a biographical profile of renown film critic Roger Ebert.

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, acquiring films for broadcast on CNN, and providing finishing funds for collaborative film productions.  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 strategy for documentaries for CNN Films.  Malhotra manages the day-to-day operation of CNN Films, and works directly with filmmakers to develop original projects.  For more information on CNN Films, please visit: www.cnn.com/cnnfilms or follow @CNNFilms via Twitter.

 

About CNN

CNN Worldwide is a portfolio of two dozen news and information services across cable, satellite, radio, wireless devices and the Internet in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Domestically, CNN reaches more individuals on television, the web and mobile devices than any other cable TV news organization in the United States; internationally, CNN is the most widely distributed news channel reaching more than 271 million households abroad; and CNN Digital is a top network for online news, mobile news and social media. Additionally, CNN Newsource is the world’s most extensively utilized news service partnering with hundreds of local and international news organizations around the world. CNN is division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company.

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February 19th, 2014
02:00 PM ET

As Hollywood gears up to the Oscars, CNN Kicks Off Oscar Programming

Thursday, February 20th  at 10pm ET, CNN Spotlight:  And the Nominees Are…  (encores at 1am, ET)

Hosted by Krista Smith, Senior West Coast Editor of Vanity Fair and CNN contributor, the hour will feature Smith’s interviews with Academy Award® nominees Amy Adams, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jonah Hill. 

Amy Adams reveals that when she signed on to work with David O’Russell again for American Hustle they “didn’t have a script until like a week before. So you started to build not from the material, but from the character in such a true way.” Jared Leto tells Smith that he stayed in his Dallas Buyers Club character Rayon while filming: “I was walking through Whole Foods and I got looks from people…and it was a real look of condemnation, of judgment, of disgust.  And that was powerful to get, to understand…  Because I'm sure Rayon and the Rayons of the world get that look all the time– and have to deal with that in a much more real way than I did.” 12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o was still a drama student at Yale when she auditioned for the role: “the one thing I discovered through playing Patsey and through just meditating on this time in history and her condition is that despite the fact that she didn't– she wasn't free one day in her life, she still had an instinct for freedom as does every person.  That freedom is a human instinct.” Jonah Hill, who earned his second Oscar® nomination by the age of thirty, tells Smith about the surreal morning he got his second nomination: “How am I on a phone call, you know– getting my second Oscar® nomination, and I'm with Leonardo DiCaprio conferencing in my hero, Martin Scorsese." FULL POST


Topics: CNN • CNN Films • Nischelle Turner • Piers Morgan • Press Releases
January 17th, 2014
11:25 AM ET

CNN FILMS and Lionsgate Pick Up ‘DINOSAUR 13’ on Opening Night of Sundance Film Festival

UnknownFilm to broadcast on CNN/U.S. in second half of 2014, following theatrical exhibition

Park City, UT – CNN Films and Lionsgate announced today the acquisition of the North American rights to the film DINOSAUR 13, on the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival.  DINOSAUR 13 is a documentary by filmmaker Todd Miller, who followed the odyssey of paleontologist Peter Larson of South Dakota’s Black Hills Institute of Geological Research after his history-making find: a nearly intact 65 million year-old fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, they named “Sue.”  The film will be released theatrically, with a North American broadcast premiere on CNN/U.S.

Two years after Larson’s team made the world’s greatest dinosaur discovery – the National Guard and FBI showed up.  Larson and his team spent a decade engaged in an epic “David and Goliath” battle, defending their rights to the discovery – and, at times fighting for their own freedom – battling competing paleontologists, Native American tribal nations, and museums.

The Sundance Film Festival described Miller’s film as one made “with consummate skill.”  Miller reveals the personalities behind the epic controversy over who owned the rights to Sue by “exposing human emotion in a dramatic tale that is as complex as it is fascinating.” FULL POST


Topics: CNN • CNN Films • Press Releases
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