HBO has confirmed a fresh array of thought-provoking documentaries for early 2019, including: Oscar® winner Alex Gibney’s THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY, exploring the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos, Oscar® nominee Amy Berg’s THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED, a four-part series offering a fresh look at a story that received global attention, and Dan Reed’s two-part LEAVING NEVERLAND, which explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys who were befriended by Michael Jackson, and crafts a portrait of sustained abuse.
Upcoming HBO documentaries include (in chronological order):
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (debuts Feb. 9). One of the most celebrated theatrical releases of 2018, this documentary takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers. It tells the story of a soft-spoken minister, puppeteer, writer and producer whose show was beamed into homes across America daily for more than 30 years. In his beloved television program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Rogers and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues in a simple, direct fashion. Directed by Morgan Neville.
UNITED SKATES (Feb. 18). When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battles in a racially charged environment to save an underground African-American subculture. This documentary celebrates a phenomenon that has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talents. Directed by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown.
IT’S A HARD TRUTH, AIN’T IT (Feb. 25). Filmed during the production of the HBO Films drama O.G. in Indiana’s Pendleton Correctional Facility, an active maximum-security prison, this companion documentary is co-directed by Madeleine Sackler and 13 of its inmates, several of whom were also cast as first-time actors in O.G. These men study documentary filmmaking as a vehicle to explore their memories and examine how they ended up with decades-long sentences.
LEAVING NEVERLAND (March 3 and 4). This two-part documentary explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own. Directed by Dan Reed.
THE CASE AGAINST ADNAN SYED (March 10). This four-part documentary series explores the 1999 disappearance and murder of 18-year-old Baltimore County high school student Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Oscar® nominee Amy Berg casts a fresh eye on the case first brought to global attention by the hugely popular “Serial” podcast. Bringing the story to life visually, she revisits the crime and follows developments from 2014 to today. Presenting new information that questions the state’s case and featuring exclusive access to essential characters, the series examines how Syed’s trial and subsequent conviction in 2000 raised as many questions as they answered.
THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY (March 18). Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning director/producer Alex Gibney’s riveting documentary traces the meteoric rise and precipitous decline of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. With a new invention that promised to revolutionize blood testing and provide low-cost early detection of diseases and infection, Holmes became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Within a few months, her $9-billion company was worthless. The documentary tells a Silicon Valley tale that was too good to be true.
ONE NATION UNDER STRESS (March 25). Stunned by reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that life expectancy in the United States is declining for the first time in more than a century, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sets out to see what’s happening and why. While looking at society through the state of its health, he discovers an epidemic of self-inflicted deaths of despair (caused by drug overdoses, chronic liver disease and suicide) that are driven by an increasingly stressed America. Directed by Marc Levin.
ON TOUR WITH ASPERGER’S ARE US (April). Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, this six-part series follows the first all-autistic comedy troupe as it navigates its first cross-country tour. Crammed into a relic of an RV that’s on the verge of explosion, the team of four hits the road for six weeks, testing their understanding of friendship, comedy and carburetors. Directed by Alex Lehmann.
ICE ON FIRE (April). This eye-opening film explains the present-day effects of excess carbon on planetary systems large and small, and explores the ways people can reduce carbon input to the atmosphere, as well as “draw down” the existing excess. Shot in nine countries around the world, the documentary visits visionaries and scientists young and old who are innovating cutting-edge efforts to mitigate climate change and minimize climate-related events, despite a rapidly warming planet. Directed by Leila Conners.
AT THE HEART OF GOLD: INSIDE THE USA GYMNASTICS SCANDAL (April). An inside look at the sexual abuse scandal that shook the sports world in 2017, this film examines how Dr. Larry Nassar, the osteopathic physician for the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, went undeterred for so many years. Featuring exclusive interviews with survivors and offering insights going beyond the headlines, the documentary shines a light on the brave gymnasts who share their stories and whose courageous efforts reveal a dangerous system that prioritized winning over everything else. Directed by Erin Lee Carr.
FOSTER (May). Drawing on unprecedented access, this film traces a complex path through the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. Oscar® winners Deborah Oppenheimer and Mark Jonathan Harris upend some of the most enduring myths about foster care, going beyond the sensational headlines and stereotypes. Interweaving first-hand stories of those navigating the child protection system with insights from social workers, lawyers and other advocates, the film offers a realistic but hopeful perspective on a community that needs society’s support.
RUNNING WITH BETO. This behind-the-scenes documentary follows Beto O’Rourke’s rise from virtual unknown to national political sensation through his bold attempt to unseat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Embedded with the campaign for a year, the film follows his journey through intimate access to O’Rourke, his family and a team of political newcomers who champion a new way of getting to know a candidate — one Texas county at a time. Directed by David Modigliani.
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