Starting June 10, HBO kicks off its summer documentary series, where ten weeks of non-fiction films air on Monday nights. Included in the program are buzzy festival titles like Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin's "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," Liz Garbus' "Love Marilyn" and Lucy Walker's "The Crash Reel." Full list below, with summaries of each film.
PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (June 10), an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit, 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.
LOVE, MARILYN (June 17), 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 (June 24) 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 (July 1), an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received an editing award, 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 (July 8) 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 (July 15), 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. An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
THE CHESHIRE MURDERS (July 22) 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 (July 29) 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 (Aug. 5) 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 (Aug. 12) 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.