National Geographic has added Feras Fayyad’s “The Cave,” the latest non-fiction effort from the director of Oscar-nominated “Last Men in Aleppo,” to its 2019 feature documentary slate.
The new film will be released in theaters this fall and compete in an increasingly crowded documentary feature field for the Oscar.
“The Cave” unveils the harrowing true story of an underground Syrian hospital and the team of civilians and medical professionals led by women who risk their lives to provide medical care to the besieged local population of Al Ghouta.
With documentaries on the rise and multiple backers and outlets for non-fiction films, two veteran filmmakers — married producer-financier Dan Cogan and producer-director Liz Garbus — have decided to launch their own production company, Story Syndicate.
Clearly, it’s a terrific time: The public’s appetite for non-fiction stories has never been greater, as movies ranging from last year’s “RBG” and Oscar-winner “Free Solo” to “Apollo 11,” “Amazing Grace,” and “The Biggest Little Farm” hit big at the box office.
The move means that in the coming months, Cogan will step down from daily management of 12-year-old Impact Partners, which has financed over 100 films, including the Oscar-winning “Icarus” and “The Cove” and Oscar nominees “Fathers and Sons,” “How to Survive a Plague,” and “Hell and Back Again.”
He will join forces with Garbus, director of the Emmy-nominated “The Fourth Estate” and Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated “What Happened Miss Simone?,” by creating a Brooklyn headquarters for multiple filmmakers to create documentary series, features, shorts, and podcasts.
Newsweek magazine intends to start Newsweek Studios, a film and distribution company that will focus on newsworthy and documentary content from filmmakers around the world.
Pierce Cravens, a producer and actor, has been named president and will lead the operation.
“We’re interested in acquiring and developing projects from emerging and established filmmakers. Our mandate includes short form and long form projects on subjects about international issues, technology, business, culture, and politics,” Cravens said via email.
Cravens cited examples such as “Period. End of Sentence,” the short-form documentary that empowers women in India to shed the taboos surrounding menstruation that was picked up by Netflix, and “Running With Beto,” a 2019 documentary film that followed former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke from Texas in his campaign against Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate that aired on HBO.
The New York Times is expanding to a journalistic platform it has never tackled before: television. Each half-hour episode of its new docuseries “The Weekly,” which debuted Sunday on FX, will focus on a different reporter and story.
The 30-episode first season will spotlight such New York Times stories as the investigations into Louisiana’s T.M. Landry College Prep—which exposed transcript fraud, physical violence, and emotional abuse at the school—and New York City’s yellow cab industry, which has trapped thousands of immigrants in reckless loans.
“The Weekly” is the The New York Times’ first attempt at a TV series. The outlet was the subject of last year’s Showtime docuseries “The Fourth Estate” but did not produce it.
New episodes of “The Weekly” will debut Sundays on FX and will then be available on Hulu the following day.
Sheila Nevins, former President of HBO Documentary Films, is heading to Viacom to launch MTV Documentary Films, a new division under MTV Studios that “will embrace a new generation of filmmakers exploring the social, political, and cultural trends and stories important to young people,” according to a press release.
Nevis is tasked with building a programming slate not only for MTV’s platforms, but for third-party streaming services as well.
“Throughout her stellar career, Sheila has elevated documentaries into one of the most compelling, culturally influentially forms of modern storytelling,” said Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, in a statement. “As we grow and expand MTV, we’re excited for Sheila to bring a new generation of filmmakers to the forefront and continue to extend our creativity and cultural impact.”
Nevins, who left HBO in 2018, has been a pioneer in bringing documentary films to the mainstream in a meaningful way with projects including “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “Citizenfour,” and “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.”
Over the course of her 38-year-career at HBO, her films won 28 Academy Awards, 44 Peabody Awards, and 34 Primetime Emmy Awards.