HBO Max has greenlit a new docuseries celebrating iconic movie moments executive produced and narrated by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner Ava DuVernay.
“One Perfect Shot,” a half-hour unscripted series inspired by a popular Twitter account of the same name, is produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted Television with DuVernay’s production company Array Filmworks.
Each episode arms one acclaimed director with an arsenal of visual tools to pull back the curtain on their most iconic shots. Using state-of-the-art technology, the directors will literally enter each shot, walking through the scene in 360 moments that allow viewers to join an immersive exploration of moviemaking. Filmmakers will share their obstacles, challenges, lessons and triumphs as they detail how they created their crowning cinematic achievements. Each helmer will also present one shot from an auteur who deeply influenced them.
“There is nothing more fascinating than witnessing the passion and creativity of a filmmaker discussing their craft and dissecting how they pulled off that jaw-dropping shot,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement. “Narrated by the illustrious Ava Duvernay, this series is sure to ignite and inspire film and television enthusiasts at every level.”
“Ava’s concept for ‘One Perfect Shot’ and Array’s attachment to any project intensifies the production value and story quality,” Mike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television, said in a statement.
“As one of today’s most respected filmmakers, Ava is the perfect voice to narrate the journey through the immersive new technology created to showcase the most beloved films of all time,” added Brooke Karzen, EVP and head of Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.
“I’ve long wanted to create a series about the art of directing,” DuVernay said in a statement. “To chronicle the craft of great filmmakers is a dream come true for me and all of us at Array Filmworks. We’re thrilled that our partners at Warner Horizon Unscripted Television embraced this idea and look forward to fully geeking out over movies with our friends at HBO Max,”
Winner of BAFTA, Peabody and Emmy Awards, DuVernay’s directorial work includes the civil rights drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated social justice documentary 13th and the Disney children’s adventure A Wrinkle in Time. In 2019, she created, wrote, produced and directed the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning limited series When They See Us. She is currently producing the fifth season of her acclaimed series “Queen Sugar.” She is the winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Prize for her second independent film, Middle of Nowhere.
The documentary American Experience: The Vote, season seven of “Endeavour,” American Masters: Mae West — Dirty Blonde, Asian Americans, Nova: Eagle Power, and season two of “Poetry in America” are coming to disc and digital from PBS Distribution in August.
Due on DVD and digital Aug. 11 is American Experience: The Vote, honoring the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment of women’s suffrage on Aug. 18, 1920. The documentary tells the story of the crusade waged by American women for the right to vote. Focusing primarily on the movement’s final decade, the film charts American women’s determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path. Mae Whitman voices Alice Paul, Audra McDonald voices Ida B. Wells, Laura Linney voices Carrie Chapman Catt, and Patricia Clarkson voices Harriot Stanton Blatch.
Season seven of “Endeavour” comes out Aug. 25 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. In the seventh installment in “Masterpiece” program, Endeavour and his colleagues enter a new decade and era of change. Opening on New Year’s Eve 1969, normal order has been resumed and the team reunited at Castle Gate CID, with Chief Superintendent Bright back in charge. However, the events of the past year have left their mark: old friendships will be challenged and new relationships will blossom. Amidst the dawn of women’s liberation, social progression and scientific growth, the 1970s begin for Oxford’s finest with the discovery of a body at the canal towpath on New Year’s Day. With the only clue in the investigation being a witness who heard whistling on the night of the crime, the team have their work cut out to uncover their culprit.
Due Aug. 11 on DVD and digital is American Masters: Mae West — Dirty Blonde. The documentary chronicles the life of Hollywood icon Mae West, who achieved great acclaim in every entertainment medium that existed during her lifetime, spanning eight decades of the 20th century. A full-time actress at 7, a vaudevillian at 14, a dancing sensation at 25, a Broadway playwright at 33, a silver screen ingénue at 40, a Vegas nightclub act at 62, a recording artist at 73, a camp icon at 85 — West left no format unconquered.
Also due Aug 11 on DVD and digital is Asian Americans, a five-part documentary program that delivers a new perspective on the Asian American experience. It traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, international relations and cultural innovation.
Nova: Eagle Power, coming Aug. 11 on DVD and digital, explores the bald eagle, a North American legend with a deep connection to Native American cultures and emblematic status that helped it make a remarkable journey back from the brink of extinction. What makes this iconic predator so extraordinary? And how does it fit into the global family of some 60 eagle species spread across six continents? “Nova” takes viewers into the lives of these spectacular birds, revealing their exceptional strength, eyesight and flying skills.
Finally, coming Aug. 25 on DVD and digital, is the second season of “Poetry in America,” which covers poets, public figures and members of various communities who join series creator Elisa New to engage in intimate readings of a single American poem. The poems include “Urban Love Poem” — Marilyn Chin, “One Art” — Elizabeth Bishop, “The Fish” — Marianne Moore, “This Your Home Now” — Mark Doty, “Finishing the Hat” — Stephen Sondheim, “You and I Are Disappearing” – Yusef Komunyakaa, “This Is Just to Say” — William Carlos Williams, and “Leaves of Grass” — Walt Whitman.
The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech will come out on VOD and electronic sellthrough Aug. 25 from Virgil Films.
The film chronicles the life of David Blech, who would be a multi-billionaire — if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years. In his early 20s, David was a pioneer investor in biotech companies and helped create an industry that has grown to be on the cutting edge of the world’s greatest medical cures, saving countless lives. Blech’s wealth grew with the industry. According to Forbes Magazine, he was once worth more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.” But Blech struggled with bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction. He once hoped to be remembered for helping to create an industry that saves lives; instead he ended up $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence.
The Blech Effect follows a protagonist all too self-aware yet still unable to control his worst impulses, a wife and mother who is both a saint and enabler, and a beloved child heartbreaking in his beauty and disability.
A special edition of the documentary 1275 Days will come out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from Filmrise and MVD Entertainment Group.
The film follows 15-year-old Blake who, after a botched home invasion, finds himself facing a virtual life prison sentence for felony murder. With the unwavering support of his single mother and teenage girlfriend, Blake embarks on a David-and-Goliath uphill battle in Elkhart, Indiana, taking on the system in hopes of a second chance.
Extras include deleted scenes, “Experts on Retroactivity,” a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.
It was an official selection at the 2019 Heartland International Film Festival and an official selection and 2019 DOC NYC.
Two uplifting films, the drama Supa Modo and the documentary Don’t Be Nice, are available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and Juno Films.
From first-time feature filmmaker Likarion Wainaina comes the Kenyan drama Supa Modo, about Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl who is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life after being diagnosed with cancer. Her only comfort during dull times are her dreams of being a superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill. With the entire village’s support, they decide to make dreams a reality and turn Jo into the superhero they know she is. Newcomer Stycie Waweru delivers a captivating and earnest performance, imbuing her character with a subtle strength that ignites the screen. The 2018 film was Kenya’s Oscar submission.
In the documentary Don’t Be Nice, the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who pushes them past their personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place, the poets break down, break through, and compose their best work ever. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Lauren Whitehead coaches the Bowery Slam Team with the credo “Don’t Be Nice.” She explains that to “be nice” is to stay on the surface of things, is to perpetuate the status quo, and is, for black people, to be what white culture demands. Her team of poets brave their inner demons and buck societal expectations to write truthful poems, and to ultimately celebrate black joy.
FX and Hulu have partnered to launch the documentary series “The New York Times Presents.”
From the team behind “The Weekly,” which premiered on FX in June 2019, the series will explore breaking news, investigations and character-driven stories featuring reporting from journalists at the paper.
“The New York Times Presents” will feature 10 standalone documentaries that will air on FX and on Hulu on Fridays at 10 p.m., with one episode per month. They include “They Get Brave” on July 10, following doctors and nurses who documented their lives in New York City as the coronavirus hit, and “This Is Dominic Fike: The Next Big Thing?” on Aug. 7, about the making of a pop star in 2020, following a young musician is plucked from obscurity and given a $4 million record deal.
The series will also feature a documentary about the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, Ky., exploring her life and investigating the circumstances of her death.
“The New York Times Presents” is produced by The New York Times and Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company. Executive producers are Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Mary Robertson, Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick and Stephanie Preiss.
The series is from the team behind the documentary series “The Weekly,” a collection of 30 half-hour documentaries and the paper’s first major foray into television news, currently available on Hulu. “The Weekly” won an Overseas Press Club award for its story on two American bicyclists killed by Isis in central Asia. Its reporting on how a predatory lending scheme had corrupted the taxi industry in New York and elsewhere was part of a body of work that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.
The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.
The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).
Washington, about the nation’s first president, is coming to DVD Aug. 25 from Lionsgate.
Narrated by Jeff Daniels, Washington tells the story of a young soldier who becomes the leader of men in a liberty-or-death campaign to forge a new nation. At the zenith of his power, George Washington retires to live out his days as a farmer. But with the young country on the verge of collapse, he is once again called to lead, creating the most powerful democracy in history.
Executive produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and best-selling author Doris Kearns Goodwin, the program features commentary from former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and a number of esteemed historians.
A new season of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” the “Worricker Trilogy,” Secrets of Highclere Castle and several “Walter Presents” series are among the titles available on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel in July.
The subscription rate for the channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“The Worricker Trilogy” is David Hare’s spy trilogy that exposes the battles raging inside the intelligence community in the name of security. It stars Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker, a long-serving MI5 officer whose life, both personal and professional, has just been turned inside out. The three installments of the trilogy are “Page Eight,” “Salting the Battlefield” and “Turks & Caicos,” and each episode features a host of guest stars, including Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Walken, and Winona Ryder.
In Secrets of Highclere Castle, viewers get the insider story about the famous mansion from the multi Emmy award-winning series “Downton Abbey.” Viewers step inside one of Britain’s best-known manor houses. It may be more famous now than any time in its 1,300-year history as the setting of “Downton Abbey,” but England’s Highclere Castle has its own stories to tell. In its heyday, Highclere was the social epicenter of Edwardian England. Viewers see how all the inhabitants of Highclere lived, from the aristocrats who enjoyed a life of luxury to the army of servants toiling “below stairs.” They also find out how the current inhabitants, Lord and Lady Carnarvon, spend their $1 million in annual upkeep funds, and what life in the castle is like today.
“Walter Presents: Imperial” is an Italian series set in 1905. The young and handsome Pietro Neri, from a nearby agricultural town, arrives at the Imperial, a luxury hotel in the Italian Alps. Posing as a waiter, he is there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sister Caterina, who also worked at the hotel. But Pietro is unprepared for what awaits him at the Imperial Hotel. On one of his first days there he crosses paths with the beautiful Adele Alibrandi. She is the aristocratic daughter of the hotel’s owner, Donna Vittoria Alibrandi, a woman with her own secrets, lies and crimes who will stop at nothing to keep them hidden. However, the difference in class will not stop Pietro and Adele from falling in love and starting a tumultuous affair, complicating everything for them.
Nineteen people were hanged and one man pressed to death, while hundreds went to jail during the witch hysteria of 1692. Three Sovereigns for Sarah is a true story based on transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials and stars Academy Award winners Vanessa Redgrave, Kim Hunter and Phyllis Thaxter. Sarah Cloyce (Redgrave), and her two sisters, are accused of being a witches in 1690s Massachusetts. After the trial, her sisters are found guilty and burned at the stake and Sarah is given a life in prison sentence. For years she is kept in brutal and terrible conditions until her family rescues her, after which she sets about trying to clear her family’s name. With real characters and original transcripts woven into the dialogue, the film is a moving story about three sisters accused of witchcraft and what happened to those who were found guilty.
Based on real events, the Italian series “Walter Presents: The Hunter,” which begins streaming July 10, is the true story of the “hunting season” in Italy during the 1990s. In Palermo, after decades of bloodshed and government officials turning a blind eye to the crime and corruption of the mafia, a new lawyer decides it’s time to go after the two rivaling bosses who have been causing the deaths of criminals and the innocent alike for years. Saverio Barone is a young and ambitious prosecutor who is fighting for what’s right through the legal system. When he reports his own boss as being a part of the mob corruption, his colleagues criticize and blame him for the trouble he causes. Barone is uniquely equipped for the job, with a distinct set of skills that will make him known as “The Hunter.” Thanks to a number of brilliant hunches that he follows, spectacular raids and arrests are made, taking 300 Mafiosi into police custody.
In season three of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” which begins streaming July 17, the ladies of the Drake Detective Agency are back solving the crimes the police can’t handle, from cases in London with new mystery novelist friend Agatha Christie, to a mermaid-themed jazz club, to swanky Toronto private schools, to busy telephone exchanges filled with busybody operators. Mary is still at the police station where her newfound confidence at work and life leave her feeling frustrated with her status as a morality officer and push her toward new professional goals. Meanwhile Flo finishes her classroom portion of medical school and is looking forward to her clinical in-hospital training, all while juggling a long-distance beau and the varied demands of Drake Detective cases. As Trudy’s love life with Bill Peters heats up, she also excels at her investigative work, taking on some truly hair-raising risks as she works to solve cases. And finally, Frankie continues to lead the team with aplomb and ingenuity, while exploring a romantic connection with boxer Moses Page.
Mixing political intrigue with personal drama, the Swedish series “Walter Presents: The Inner Circle,” which begins streaming July 17, is a thriller that plays out over the course of several days as enterprise minister David Ehrling is in the running to become the next prime minister, all while his press officer Lena Nilsdotter attempts to keep his past misdemeanors from prying journalists. Adding to his troubles, David must also juggle the demands of his job with his family life, which is under threat of falling apart.
In the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Shiavone,” streaming beginning July 24, due to disciplinary reasons, the unorthodox, weed smoking, foul-mouthed Italian police detective Rocco Schiavone is transferred far from his beloved Rome to the small mountain town of Aosta. The sophisticated but cranky Roman despises the mountains, the cold and the provincial locals as much as he dislikes his superiors and their petty rules. But he loves solving crimes, the only thing that is keeping him from losing his sanity.
Finally, the Ukrainian series “Walter Presents: Hide and Seek” streams beginning July 31. In a small industrial town, a father and daughter love playing hide and seek, but during one of their usual playdates, the daughter mysteriously disappears and is nowhere to be found. Later, a video is released that shows the girl holding a sign with an unusual set of numbers, but no one knows what they mean. She becomes the first of several children to disappear without a trace. Two young detectives, Varta Naumova and Maksim Shumov, take on the complex case and their own demons during the investigation. They are total opposites, but both have experienced trauma and this case affects them each on a deep level. They become personally vested in finding the children and apprehending the kidnapper as they confront their pasts.
Season five of “Grantchester,” the documentary Titans of the 20th Century and American Experience: George W. Bush are among the titles coming to disc and digital in July from PBS Distribution.
In season five of “Grantchester,” available on digital and DVD July 21, it’s 1957, and Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) has settled into his role as the vicar of Grantchester, preaching to a packed church. His best friend, Detective Inspector Georgie Keating (Robson Green), has come to accept (just about) his wife Cathy’s commitment to her job. Mrs. C. happily juggles her roles as the vicarage housekeeper and being a well-to-do married woman, and after a trip to Marrakech, even Leonard has managed to carve out some happiness with Daniel. But Will’s faith will be thoroughly tested as he and Geordie are reminded once more that there’s darkness lurking in their little corner of Cambridgeshire. In addition to Brittney and Green, returning members of the acclaimed ensemble include Tessa Peake-Jones, Kacey Ainsworth and Al Weaver.
Also coming to DVD and digital July 21 is American Experience: George W. Bush, a look at the life and governance of the 43rd president of the United States. The program starts with Bush’s unorthodox road to the presidency through the contested election of 2000, when a Supreme Court ruling resulted in his becoming the president. Then, the film chronicles the tumultuous events, domestically and internationally, that dominated Bush’s eight years in office — the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the subsequent war in Iraq, the search for weapons of mass destruction, Hurricane Katrina, and the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Another “American Experience” title is coming to DVD and digital July 21, Mr. Tornado. The Super Outbreak of 1974 was the most intense tornado outbreak on record, tearing a vicious path of destruction across 13 states, generating 148 tornadoes from Alabama to Ontario, damaging thousands of homes, and killing more than 300 people. Meteorologist Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita spent 10 months studying the tornado outbreak’s aftermath in the most extensive aerial tornado study ever conducted, and through detailed mapping and leaps of scientific imagination, made a series of meteorological breakthroughs. His discovery of “microbursts,” sudden high wind patterns that could cause airplanes to drop from the sky without warning, transformed aviation safety and saved untold numbers of lives.
The documentary The Greatest Bond is coming to DVD and digital July 14. Centered around the Patriot Paws service dog organization based in Dallas, the program follows a group of disabled U.S. veterans who are about to be given a service dog and shows their transformation as the dogs expand the veterans’ world and start to heal them.
Also due on digital and DVD July 14 is Titans of the 20th Century, a biography of some of the most significant politicians of the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, men who caused and men who cured the worlds most troubled times, from the last shot fired in the First World War to the victory of Mao Zedong. This program is a story of the power to lead and mislead, to inspire and to cause mass destruction. These were men who came from different parts of the world, espoused radically different political doctrines and that seem to have had no common characteristics except an ambition to lead, a taste for power and a belief that they had been chosen by destiny.
American Experience: The Man Who Tried to Feed the World debuts on DVD and digital July 28. In 1966, drought and an exploding population confronted India with the imminent threat of a severe famine that many scientists and intellectuals feared was a harbinger of global catastrophes to come. As the world’s population outstripped its ability to produce food, India turned to Norman Borlaug, an unassuming plant breeder from Iowa whose combination of scientific knowledge and raw determination had made him a legend among a small handful of fellow specialists. The Man Who Tried to Feed the World recounts and explores the story of the man who would not only solve India’s famine problem, but also would go on to lead a “Green Revolution” of worldwide agricultural programs estimated to have saved 1 billion lives. He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work, but spent the rest of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire.
Season one of “Somewhere South” comes out on DVD and digital July 28. Celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and award-winning host for the PBS series “A Chef’s Life” Vivian Howard hosts a culinary journey that explores the cultural twists on classic dishes and new traditions that are being formed in the American South. Howard examines some of the popular dishes that unite us all — dumplings, hand pies, porridge and many others — and speaks on how these dishes change from culture to culture. In North Carolina, she tries the collard sandwich, a staple of Lumbee Indian cuisine in the Carolinas. Then she goes to West Virginia to eat pepperoni rolls, a dish inspired by coal miners. Howard travels to Charleston, where rice is king, and enjoys grits along with other rice dishes that are among the favorites of South Carolina’s bustling food scene.
Finally, Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations comes out on DVD and digital July 28. Antisemitism in the United States and Europe is rising and worsening in ways not seen since the 1930s. It comes in the forms of vandalism, social media abuse, assault and murder. Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Goldberg and producer Diana Robinson explore its infectious behavior by traveling through four countries to speak firsthand with victims, witnesses and antisemites, interviewing subjects including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria, George Will, Deborah Lipstadt and others. With opening narration by Julianna Margulies, the film examines the far right in the United States and how it has incited such acts as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Then moving to the far left in England, the documentary explores the traditionally anti-racist Labour party conflating Israel and Jews, causing tremendous harm to the Jewish community. In France, the program delves into the seemingly endless wave of violence against Jews by Islamists and radicals.