May 26th, 2016
03:15 PM ET

CNN Films to encore BLACKFISH documentary on Friday, May 27 at 9pm Eastern

Blackfish explores the extraordinary nature of Orcas and their decades-long history in captivity.  This revealing film also explores the chilling 2010 incident in which an experienced Sea World trainer was killed by the 12,000-pound Tilikum, a whale previously also associated with the deaths of two other people.

CNN Films will encore this thought-provoking documentary film on Friday, May 27 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN/U.S.

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CNN Films to encore BLACKFISH documentary on Friday, May 27 at 9pm Eastern
HBO Documentary NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper Broadcasts on CNN
April 28th, 2016
01:20 PM ET

HBO Documentary NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper Broadcasts on CNN

CNN Films Presents airs Friday, April 29 at 9:00pm Eastern

CNN will broadcast HBO’s memoir-like documentary, NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, directed by Liz Garbus, on Friday, April 29 at 9:00pm Eastern.  The CNN Films Presents broadcast will air with limited commercial interruption.

Told through intimate conversations shared between mother and son, the film captures the legendary life of Gloria Vanderbilt – her grandfather’s historic industrial achievements, her father’s unexpected death, the famed custody trial between Gloria Vanderbilt’s mother and aunt, and her careers as actress, artist, and designer.

They also discuss Wyatt Cooper’s premature death, when Anderson Cooper was just 10 years old, and the suicide of Cooper’s older brother, Carter, a devastating circumstance that left them with painful, unanswered questions coupled with their grief.  In the film, Cooper partially attributes his ability to report from war zones and witness grand-scale human tragedies like famine or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to having lost people closest to him in his life.

Vanderbilt, now 92, continues to paint and create daily.  She and her son, Anderson Cooper, the award-winning CNN journalist, discuss her turbulent childhood, romances, marriages and children, and career highlights while examining the personal letters, art collections, news clippings and film, home movies, and family photographs that have chronicled much of Vanderbilt’s storied life.

NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper is a CNN Films Presents broadcast of an HBO Documentary film.  The film, a Moxie Firecracker Films production, is directed by Liz Garbus and executive produced by Anderson Cooper.  For HBO, the film is produced by Nancy Abraham and executive produced by Sheila Nevins.   NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in January.  For additional information about this film, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms.

About CNN Films Presents and CNN Worldwide

CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms.  Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, senior director for program development, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects.  For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms and follow @CNNFilms via Twitter.

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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The Orchard to Serve Up CNN Films' JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
April 27th, 2016
11:31 PM ET

The Orchard to Serve Up CNN Films' JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT

Film to have World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 16

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The Orchard has announced an agreement with CNN Films to acquire the worldwide distribution rights to director Lydia Tenaglia’s highly-anticipated documentary JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT.  CNN Films retains North American broadcast rights and will air the documentary on CNN following its theatrical release by The Orchard, to be set for early 2017.  With a worldwide premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival scheduled for this Saturday, the film is produced by Susan Porretta and executive producers are Anthony Bourdain, Chris Collins, Joe Caterini, Tenaglia, Amy Entelis, and Vinnie Malhotra.

THE LAST MAGNIFICENT explores the exceptional, adventurous life of Jeremiah Tower, one of the most controversial, outrageous, and influential figures in the history of American gastronomy, yet his name has largely been obliterated from history.  Featuring interviews with Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Martha Stewart, and Ruth Reichl, this delicious documentary tells the dramatic story of America’s first celebrity chef.

“The story of Jeremiah Tower is the stuff of legends – his brash personality and culinary genius make for a captivating look at the man and the story behind the legend,” said Paul Davidson, The Orchard’s SVP Film and Television. “Not only are we thrilled to be working with Anthony and Lydia, but excited to be partnering with our friends at CNN on this film.”

“CNN Films is so proud to partner with The Orchard and our Anthony Bourdain, Lydia Tenaglia, and the team at ZPZ for this beautiful documentary about Jeremiah Tower,” said Amy Entelis, EVP of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.  “Tony’s and ZPZ’s amazing vision for Parts Unknown has changed how we think about food, culture, and our global community.  Jeremiah changed what it means to eat out in America, and we are so pleased to bring his exceptional story to a wide audience.”

“I am so appreciative of CNN's continued support of Zero Point Zero Production and honored that The Orchard has picked up Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent for distribution,” said director Lydia Tenaglia. “I'm so proud of the entire crew who helped bring this film to life and of Jeremiah, who allowed us in to his magnificent world.”

The acquisition deal between CNN Films and The Orchard was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, Vice President of business affairs, and Courtney Sexton, Senior Director for program development, on behalf of CNN, and by Cinetic on behalf of the filmmakers.

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering independent film, TV and music distribution company that operates in over 25 global markets. The company, founded as a music distributor in 1997, is a groundbreaking leader in the film and television distribution space, known for its innovative technology that provides filmmakers with up-to-the minute trending data and analytics on their projects. The Orchard's film division has enjoyed such recent successes as the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Cartel Land," "The Overnight," "Dior & I" and "What We Do in the Shadows." Upcoming releases include Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville's "The Music of Strangers,” Taika Waititi’s “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” Roger Ross Williams’ “Life, Animated” and Antonio Campos’ “Christine.” The company is currently in theaters with Joachim Trier's "Louder Than Bombs.” For more information on The Orchard, please visit www.theorchard.com.

About CNN and CNN Films

CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms.  Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, senior director for program development, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects.  For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms and follow @CNNFilms via Twitter.

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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March 17th, 2016
12:27 PM ET

CNN Films Picks Up Broadcast Rights for HOLY HELL

Documentary on life inside mysterious spiritual sect directed by Will Allen and executive produced by Jared Leto to come to CNN Films

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Fresh from its stunning world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, CNN Films has acquired HOLY HELL, directed by Will Allen and executive produced by Jared Leto, it was announced today.  CNN Films purchased U.S. domestic broadcast rights to the feature for telecast later this year.

“We are really pleased to bring this electrifying project to CNN Films,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.  “This cautionary story is made uniquely insightful by the deeply personal perspectives of Will Allen – and the film speaks to the broader search we all share for finding fulfillment.”

Allen’s HOLY HELL captures what life was like in the mysterious, California-based spiritual community, the Buddhafield.  Just out of film school, a young, idealistic Allen was introduced to the Buddhafield by his older sister, eventually becoming a personal aide to Michel, “the teacher.”  As a member and unofficial documentarian of the utopian group for 22 years, Allen’s film of his fellow followers and Michel is both revealing and intimate.  Allen’s singular point of view offers a compelling exploration of why the Buddhafield, and its even more mysterious, charismatic leader, are powerfully attractive and terrifying at the same time.

After many painful years, Allen eventually found the courage to leave the Buddhafield – taking hundreds of hours of his footage with him.  Since leaving, Allen has grown increasingly fearful of the guru and the guru’s continuing extreme influence over some followers, voicing his fears even at the film’s festival premiere in January.

Jared Leto, now an executive producer for the film, described HOLY HELL as “relentless, haunting, and unforgettable” to Variety last month.

HOLY HELL is produced by Allen, Tracey Harnish, and Alexandra Johnes.  The CNN Films acquisition of HOLY HELL was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, vice president of business affairs on behalf of CNN, and Andrew Herwitz of The Film Sales Company, and Michael Donaldson and Dean Cheley of Donaldson + Callif, on behalf of the filmmakers.

About CNN Films

CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms.  Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, senior director for program development, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects.  For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms and 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 2nd, 2016
01:18 PM ET

1.35 Million Viewers See CNN Films Presents HISTORY OF THE EAGLES – Premiere #1 on Saturday

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Director Alison Ellwood’s look at the musical legacy of the rock supergroup soars for CNN Films Presents 

Among Viewers 18-34, in 25-54 Demo, and Total Viewers

The CNN Films Presents premiere of History of the Eagles won its time period on Saturday night, and was seen by 1.35 million total viewers Saturday, Jan. 30, beginning 8:00pm Eastern.  The four-hour film premiere also won the time period (8:00pm to 11:55pm Eastern) for cable news viewers with 384k viewers aged 25 to 54 years, as well as among younger viewers aged 18 to 34 years with 67k viewers.

In its time period Saturday night, CNN Films Presents History of the Eagles outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC (726k total viewers for Fox and 304k total viewers for MSNBC) among total viewers and among viewers in the cable news demo of viewers aged 25 to 54 (168k for Fox and 157k for MSNBC).  MSNBC averaged 44k among viewers aged 18 to 34; Fox News averaged 33k among viewers aged 18 to 34.

The film, directed by Alison Ellwood and produced by Alex Gibney first debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and spans the early life of the bandmates, their rise to super stardom, the breakup of the band, and their reunion.  FULL POST

January 6th, 2016
03:11 PM ET

Television Premiere for SUNSHINE SUPERMAN Set For CNN

Film debuts as CNN Films broadcast Sunday, Jan. 17 at 9:00pm and 12:00am Eastern

SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, the immersive love story of Carl and Jean Boenish, the husband and wife team who invented BASE jumping – and their devotion to the freedom and beauty of foot-launched human flight – will make its global television premiere on CNN/U.S. Sunday, Jan. 17 at 9:00pm and 12:00am Eastern, the network announced today. The CNN Films broadcast will be presented with limited commercial interruption by Volkswagen.

Carl Boenish, a trained electrical engineer and experienced skydiver, as well as an innovator of film techniques and film technology, zealously chronicled the pioneering days of BASE in the early 1980’s in exquisitely beautiful 16mm film. Boenish sometimes mounted cameras to his head and the heads of his small band of fellow fliers in order to document a bird’s-eye view of their jumps. Director, writer, and producer Marah Strauch interweaves this archival footage along with new photography and reenacted events (recreated from the Boenishes’ personal audio diary recordings), for a visually stunning feature film debut. Strauch and producer / editor Eric Bruggemann, develop an intimate portrait of the Boenishes as risk-takers who passionately loved both each other and BASE.

BASE, which stands for “building,” “antenna,” “span,” and “earth” was, in its experimental early days, initially opposed by the U.S. Parachute Association. Those first jumps also brought inquisitive fame and attention to the novel sport – along with a risk of arrest. Phil Smith (BASE #1, the first person to ever successfully complete a series of jumps from all four types of objects – in Houston, TX), Phil Mayfield (BASE #2), and the Boenishes (BASE #3 and #4), describe first-person accounts in the film, adding insight into their preparation and collective genius. They also vividly recall their frustrations with the legal obstacles to their adventures, taking viewers on a thrilling emotional ride of beauty and suspense. Cameos of Phil Donahue, Pat Sajak, and Kathie Lee Johnson (later Gifford) yield a glimpse into the excitement of the followers and fans of BASE that some found difficult to understand.

At the pinnacle of Carl’s and Jean’s extraordinary achievements, they together broke the BASE jumping Guinness World Record in 1984 by jumping from Trollveggen, ‘Troll Wall,’ along the western coast of Norway’s Trolltindene mountain range. Incredibly, within hours, that astonishing triumph was followed by heartbreaking disaster.

“We want to feel like we’re astronauts walking on the Moon….it just gives us a feeling of power, and of joy. And, we want to share it with the world…,” says Carl Boenish in the film, describing the allure and exhilaration of BASE.

SUNSHINE SUPERMAN will be available via desktop (www.CNN.com/go), iPad, Apple TV, Roku, and across CNN’s mobile platforms.  After the broadcast premiere, the film will be On Demand for seven days via CNNgo.  The film will encore on CNN/U.S. Saturday, Jan. 23, at 8:00pm Eastern.

SUNSHINE SUPERMAN had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and was produced by Scissor Kick Films, Flimmer Films, and Submarine Entertainment. It was executive produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney and was exhibited nationally by Magnolia Pictures and internationally by Universal Pictures.  For more information about SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, please visit www.CNN.com/cnnfilms and follow @CNNFilms via Twitter and use #SunshineSuperman to participate in conversations about the film.

About CNN Films

CNN Films produces, acquires, and commissions documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms.  Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, oversees the strategy for CNN Films and CNN Films Presents.  Courtney Sexton, senior director of program development, manages the day-to-day operations for CNN Films and works directly with filmmakers to supervise original projects.  For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.cnn.com/CNNFilms and 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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January 4th, 2016
05:45 PM ET

CNN Films STEVE JOBS: The Man in the Machine Premiere #1 on Sunday

Alex Gibney’s look at the life and legacy of the legendary tech innovator helps CNN rank #1 in total viewers, demo, and young viewers during premiere; Encore set for Saturday, Jan. 09 at 9:00pm & 11:00pm Eastern

The CNN Films premiere of STEVE JOBS: The Man in the Machine was seen by more than 1.15 million total viewers Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9:00pm Eastern. The film also won the time period among the cable news nets with 455k viewers aged 25 to 54 years, and had 97k among viewers aged 18 to 34 years for its premiere. In its time period last night, CNN Films outperformed the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC in each demo. MSNBC averaged 255k total viewers, 143k among viewers aged 25 to 54, and 47k viewers aged 18 to 34; Fox News averaged 436k total viewers, 85k among viewers aged 25 to 54, and 10k viewers aged 18 to 34, for the same time period.

Last night’s premiere makes the film the third highest-rated in the franchise among total viewers and viewers aged 25 to 54 years old for CNN (after CNN Films Presents Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me and CNN Films Blackfish).

The strong performance of the CNN Films presentation helped CNN far outpace the cable news competition for the evening in primetime (8:00pm to 11:00pm), with 968k total viewers for CNN (vs. 266k for MSNBC; 494k for Fox News), 358k viewers aged 25 to 54 for CNN (vs. 144k for MSNBC; 89k for Fox News), and 81k among viewers aged 18 to 34 for CNN (vs. 39k for MSNBC; 10k for Fox News). CNN easily outperformed the combined delivery of MSNBC and Fox News in each demo.

STEVE JOBS: The Man in the Machine trounced the competition with 720k total viewers, 312k viewers aged 25 to 54, and 92k viewers aged 18 to 34 for its 11:00pm replay. MSNBC had 352k total viewers, 203k viewers aged 25 to 54, and 61k viewers aged 18 to 34. Fox News came in a distant fourth in each category: 307k total viewers, 71k viewers aged 25 to 54, and 22k among viewers aged 18 to 34.

The critically-acclaimed STEVE JOBS: The Man in the Machine was directed and narrated by Academy® Award-winning director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and sponsored by Volkswagen. The film is set to encore Saturday, Jan. 09 at 9:00pm and 11:00pm.  All times Eastern.

In between the encore broadcasts, viewers can watch the film On Demand and learn more about Steve Jobs, by visiting www.CNN.com/CNNFilms.

Source: The Nielsen Company, Fast Nationals time period-based data for Sunday 01/03/2016, program-based historical data. All data based on Live+SD. FULL POST

December 21st, 2015
11:35 AM ET

THE GNOMIST streaming now for the holiday season

CNN Digital Studios and CNN Films add story of hope during season of peace to digital film series

THE GNOMIST, award-winning filmmaker Sharon Liese’s short film about the mystical power of kindness, and produced by Herizon Productions and Cynthia Wade, is streaming now, here: Watch The Gnomist.

The documentary short, which clocks in at just under 18 minutes, is the true story of the mysterious appearance of fairy dwellings in the suburban forest of Overland Park, Kansas. Visitors to the park began noticing the miniature homes along Tomahawk Creek Trail in the summer of 2013, lovingly decorated with interior furnishings, and even signs of life of their inhabitants – tiny kettles and tea cups, small-scale gardening tools, clothing, and even notes of love and welcome affixed to the diminutive doors of the abodes.

Dubbed “Firefly Forest,” the small community brought joy to its visitors with an immediate mystery: who had erected the gnome homes – and why did they do it? Resplendently presented as a true fairytale, THE GNOMIST explores the psychic healing power of a magical experience shared by three former strangers.

“I love that the film is being released now because its message is a powerful counter balance to recent disturbing events that jeopardize our faith in humanity. I am grateful that I can now share this with the world,” said Liese. FULL POST

December 9th, 2015
12:38 PM ET

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE to make TV Debut on CNN/U.S.

Following successful theatrical and festival exhibitions, film debuts as CNN Films broadcast Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9:00pm ET

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE will make its global television premiere on CNN/U.S. Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9:00pm Eastern with an encore to air on CNN/U.S. immediately following the premiere, the network announced today. The CNN Films broadcast of the acclaimed documentary will be presented with limited commercial interruption by Volkswagen.

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE is a candid biography of the Apple co-founder’s incredible true life and legacy. Directed and narrated by Academy® Award-winning director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), this captivating film features exclusive interviews with people close to Jobs at various stages of his storied life, including Chrisann Brennan, the mother of his oldest child; Daniel Kottke, formerly Jobs’ roommate, college classmate, and Apple’s twelfth employee; former Apple executives Bob Belleville, Jon Rubinstein, and Andy Grignon; other industry contemporaries; and also journalists who covered him throughout the years.

The frank film leverages a mix of the new interviews with archival footage, intimate photos, relatively rare video of Jobs speaking during media interviews – and previously unseen video from a legal deposition as Jobs attempted to explain his role in the Apple stock option backdating scandal.  The story moves from Jobs’ heady rise from Silicon Valley whiz kid to CEO, to his ouster from Apple and triumphant return, the Foxconn and stock option controversies, and the worldwide outpouring of grief upon his untimely death in 2011.  A man who was both revered as an iconoclastic genius and feared by some as a barbed-tongued tyrant, the film also attempts to explain the carefully constructed mythology of Jobs, perhaps the most publicly-admired corporate figure of the technology age.

“I ended up changing my entire life…I lost my wife in that process, I lost my children…the whole structure of my life was just changed forever by going to work on that Mac…work was intense, the commitment needed to do it was intense…,” recalls Belleville, who was lured to the fledgling Apple to engineer the Macintosh.  Yet, Belleville also weeps as he reads a letter he wrote commemorating Jobs’ death, emotionally describing him as “a combination of James Dean, Princess Diana, John Lennon, and maybe Santa Claus.”

At the time of Jobs’ death, his name and image had become synonymous with the sleek, high-tech personal devices that came to define and transform the first two decades of the 21st Century.  The highly secretive creation and careful launching of each new Apple product continue to be the focus of mass media interest and global consumer aspiration.

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE will be available via desktop (www.CNN.com/go), iPad, Apple TV, Roku, and across CNN’s mobile platforms.  After the broadcast premiere, the film will be On Demand for seven days via CNNgo.  The film will also encore Saturday, Jan. 9, at 8:00pm Eastern.

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE had its world premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival and was co-produced by Jigsaw Productions and exhibited by Magnolia Pictures in theaters nationally.  For more information about this film, please visit www.CNN.com/cnnfilms. FULL POST

December 4th, 2015
11:17 AM ET

BLACKFACE Streams Across CNN’s Digital Platforms

Academy® Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams’s new provocative short explores racially-charged Christmas tradition

Academy® Award-winning filmmaker, Roger Ross Williams, takes viewers with him on a provocative exploration of the origins of the curious Christmastime custom of dressing up in blackface, for his latest documentary short film, also titled BLACKFACE, co-produced by CNN Films and CNN Digital Studios, and now streaming across CNN’s digital platforms, the network announced today. BLACKFACE makes its global premiere across CNN’s digital and mobile platforms.

In Holland, “a country of tolerance, forward-thinking, bikes, and Dutch apple pie,” as Williams describes in his narration, dressing up as Zwarte Piet, is as Dutch as “tulips or Gouda cheese.” Each December, as in the United States and many countries around the world, revelers mark the holiday season by dressing up as Santa Claus (“Sinterklaas”). In the Netherlands though, Santa is frequently depicted with a mischievous companion, “Zwarte Piet,” or “Black Pete,” a childlike African caricature dressed in fancy clothes with ruby-red lips, who is sometimes Santa’s helper, sometimes an angry slave that works for Sinterklaas.

Williams discovers that Black Pete is a fiercely – and controversially-defended tradition, but it’s also a tradition that many people see as hostile and offensive – an odd cultural juxtaposition for a society that is globally-known for its avant-garde cultural inclusiveness. Williams speaks with art and cultural historians who outline the history of the tradition – and the political challenges – even extending to the Prime Minister’s defense of the tradition – that are associated with pointing out the hurtful images that remind many of slavery. Along the way, Williams also explores the complicated relationship of the Dutch to their colonial history and the global slave trade.

Williams also speaks with Black Pete protestors, and explores how even today, Dutch children are still learning to practice a custom that seems of a bygone era.

BLACKFACE runs approximately 15 minutes and is available via CNN.com, CNNgo, and across CNN’s mobile properties. For a preview of BLACKFACE, please visit http://cnn.it/1XlouOW. The film is presented across CNN’s digital platforms exclusively by Volkswagen.

CNN’s fall doc short series launched in November with ALL-AMERICAN FAMILY, directed by award-winning filmmaker Andrew Jenks, and produced and directed by Jenks and Daniel Zinn through Andrew Jenks Entertainment. FULL POST

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