HBO has confirmed a diverse array of timely and thought-provoking documentaries for the first half of 2018, including: Peter Kunhardt’s KING IN THE WILDERNESS, about the last years of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Judd Apatow’s two-part, four-and-a-half-hour documentary THE ZEN DAIRIES OF GARRY SHANDLING; Rebecca Miller’s ARTHUR MILLER: WRITER, an intimate portrait of one the greatest playwrights of the 20th century; and I AM EVIDENCE, produced by Mariska Hargitay, about the untested rape kit backlog in the U.S.
Upcoming HBO documentaries include (in chronological order):
THE NUMBER ON GREAT GRANDPA’S ARM (debuts Jan. 27). When ten-year-old Elliott asks his 90-year-old great-grandfather, Jack, about the number tattooed on his arm, he sparks an intimate conversation about Jack’s life that spans happy memories of childhood in Poland, the loss of his family, surviving Auschwitz, and finding a new life in America. Drawing on haunting historical footage, photos and hand-painted watercolor animation, the short film tells a heartbreaking story of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before and during the Holocaust. Debuting on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this gently powerful documentary centers on Elliott’s love for his beloved great-grandfather and his wish to keep Jack’s memories and lessons from that terrible time alive. Directed and produced by Amy Schatz.
MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS (Jan. 29). From longtime fans Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, and filmed with extensive access over the course of more than two years, this intimate portrait of the acclaimed North Carolina band charts their decade-and-a half rise, while chronicling the Avetts’ present-day collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin on the multi-Grammy-nominated album “True Sadness.” With the recording process as a backdrop, it depicts a lifelong bond and unique creative partnership, as band members experience marriage, divorce, parenthood, illness, and the challenges of the music business. More than just a music documentary, the film is a meditation on family, love and the passage of time. An Apatow Production in association with RadicalMedia.
ATOMIC HOMEFRONT (Feb. 12). This timely film shines an urgent light on the lasting toxic effects nuclear waste can have on communities. Focusing on a group of moms-turned-advocates in St Louis, it follows them as they confront the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and the corporations behind the illegal dumping of dangerous radioactive waste in their neighborhoods. Directed by Rebecca Cammisa.
ARTHUR MILLER: WRITER (March 19). This intimate portrait of one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century is told from the unique perspective of his daughter, Rebecca Miller, who filmed interviews with her father over decades. Drawing on a wealth of personal archival material, the film provides new insights into Miller’s life as an artist and explores his character in all its complexity. Directed by Rebecca Miller.
THE ZEN DIARIES OF GARRY SHANDLING (March 26 and 27). Judd Apatow’s two-part, four-and-a-half-hour documentary explores the remarkable life of the legendary comedian, who was Apatow’s mentor and friend. It features interviews from nearly four dozen friends, family and colleagues; four decades’ worth of television appearances; and a lifetime of personal journals, private letters and home audio and video footage that reveal Shandling’s brilliant mind and restless soul.
KING IN THE WILDERNESS (April). Drawing on stories from the people around him, this film follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the last years of his life, from the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in 1968. The documentary provides a clear window into King’s character, showing him to be a man with an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence in the face of an increasingly unstable country. With the U.S. currently in one of the most divided periods in 50 years, King’s words underscore why nonviolence is still vital today. Directed by Peter Kunhardt and produced by George and Teddy Kunhardt.
TRAFFIC STOP (April). This film tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped for a routine traffic violation that escalated into a dramatic arrest. Caught on police dashcams, King was pulled from her car by the arresting officer, repeatedly thrown to the ground and handcuffed. En route to jail in a squad car, she engaged in a revealing conversation with her escorting officer about race and law enforcement in America. The documentary juxtaposes dashcam footage with scenes from King’s everyday life, offering a fuller portrait of the woman caught up in this unsettling encounter. Directed by Kate Davis; produced by David Heilbroner.
I AM EVIDENCE (April). Produced by Mariska Hargitay, this documentary reveals the shocking number of untested rape kits in the United States today. Despite the power of DNA to solve and prevent crimes, hundreds of thousands of these kits, containing potentially crucial DNA evidence, languish untested in police evidence storage rooms across the country. The film tells stories of survivors who have waited years for their kits to be tested, as well as the law enforcement officials who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice. Directed by Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir.
THE FINAL YEAR (May). This documentary is a unique insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team during its last year in office. Featuring unprecedented access inside the White House and State Department, the film offers an uncompromising view of the inner workings of the Obama administration as it prepares to leave power after eight years. Directed by Greg Barker.