With Anderson Cooper (Anderson Cooper 360⁰) introducing, CNN will air an anthology of four documentary short films during two Saturdays in July and August.
Produced by Scheme Engine, a minority-owned studio and production company, each 25-minute title focuses on a slice of Americana: stories of Americans living very different lives, that ultimately remind viewers of the universality of the desire for community, and for finding acceptance for individual identity.
“Scheme Engine is proud to partner with CNN Films to spotlight stories told from diverse perspectives in front of and behind the camera. During a time of increased isolation, our goal with these short films is to challenge the audience to consider the role of community in solving the issues that our country faces,” said Bayan Joonam, an executive producer for Scheme Engine.
The schedule of the CNN Films summer shorts anthology for CNN and CNNgo is as follows:
Saturday, July 31, beginning at 9:00pm Eastern
58 Hours: The Baby Jessica Story
On October 14, 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure fell into a well while playing in a relative’s backyard in Midland, Texas. A captivated nation watched on live television while rescuers worked around the clock for 58 hours to save her. The tense and dramatic twists in the crisis were a unifying event for Americans as the fears and jubilations of one family where shared by people across the country. Director Mark Bone reveals the even more surprising, frightening, and complicated story of what happened to ‘Baby Jessica’ during her long wait in that well, and explores the impact of her ordeal on her community and her rescuers, particularly after the cameras left town.
Super Reviewers: Rate, Review, Repeat
Some people have an opinion about everything. And then there are the ‘super reviewers,’ people who influence our decisions on everything from what toothbrush to buy, to where to go on vacation. Super reviewers leave hundreds, or even thousands of reviews a year at online websites, sparking feuds and affecting reputations. Though they are complete strangers, their often intimately personal dispatches can seem like the best evidence we have to go on when making decisions…but who are the people behind these reviews? Directors Yu Gu and Arianna LaPenne wade into the subculture of super reviewers who are not only prolific, but are also emotionally invested and addicted to the competitive nature of producing reviews that are themselves rated. The film captures an idiosyncratic group portrait of the lengths people are willing to go to feel like somebody.
Saturday, August 7, beginning at 9:00pm Eastern
The Bunker Boom: Better Safe Than Sorry
In rural South Dakota, xPoint is a subterranean neighborhood that is home to what may be the world’s largest residential community of ‘preppers,’ people who live ‘off the grid.’ Whatever they seek to avoid or escape, the survivalist real estate market is booming. Director Arianna LaPenne peers into the motivations of middle class families uprooting their lives to live in converted military bunkers in response to society’s collective anxieties. LaPenne finds a fledgling community around shared ideas, neighborly celebrations, and self-determination. The film investigates the compelling questions surrounding what problems human beings bring along with them when they seek to leave society behind.
Lessons From the Water: Diving With a Purpose
What do deep sea divers seek, both literally and spiritually, in the oceans? For the Black scuba divers who formed the organization, Diving With a Purpose, their goal is to restore the nearly 500 voyages shipwrecked during the slave trade, to the historical record. Their mission is to uncover who was onboard these vessels, and learn where they came from and where they were headed. Director Charles Todd takes viewers into this intergenerational journey, while exploring the intimate relationship between student and instructor. Todd finds both a search for identity, and a communal bond developed through a shared mission.