Samantha Schoenfeld, RR.com Original
For 10 consecutive Mondays this summer, HBO will air a new original documentary that illustrates an important issue, person, or concept in the director’s own words. Take a break from the fictional summer blockbusters for these true life stories.
Documentaries air Mondays on HBO at 9pm ET.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer — June 10
In February 2012, this relatively unknown art collective became a worldwide phenomenon after Russian police arrested and tried its members for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” This film, a Sundance Film Festival Award winner, stitches together footage of rehearsals, concerts, public appearances and court proceedings featuring the trio to make up a sympathetic, illuminating tale.
Love, Marilyn — June 17
The world’s most iconic woman reappears on the screen in this documentary featuring recently discovered first-hand material from Marilyn Monroe, including audio and video tapes, handwritten letters and diaries. For such a public figure, it will be interesting to see how all of her sordid affairs played out in her own view. The letters will be read by modern day celebrities, including Uma Thurman, Glenn Close, and Jeremy Piven. In addition, the film will show “interviews and rare archival footage” of her most famous loves, Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio.
Miss You Can Do It — June 26
In 2004 Abbey Curran, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, created the Miss You Can Do It Pageant for young women with disabilities, and then in 2008 she became the first woman with a disability to participate in the Miss USA Pageant after being named Miss Iowa USA. The documentary shows why it’s important to always look beneath the surface, even if the surface is “beautiful.”
Gideon’s Army — July 1
You don’t need to wear brightly-colored spandex to be a hero; in the South, public defenders are just everyday people trying to make a difference. This documentary, which was an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, highlights the difficulties that “idealistic young public defenders” face, including mandatory minimum sentencing, enormous caseloads and low pay.
Gasland Part II — July 8
Controversy makes for great entertainment, and this sequel to the Academy Award-nominated Gasland is no exception. The first documentary looked at how hydraulic fracturing — a process used to extract natural gas and oil from shale in an attempt to eliminate our country’s reliance on foreign oil — contaminates the water supply and is dangerous to residents’ health. The sequel shows how fracking leads to “the contamination of democracy,” according to director Josh Fox.
The Crash Reel — July 15
What are you willing to do to follow your dreams? That is the question that this documentary, which follows the life of Kevin Pearce, a champion snowboarder who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his training for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, asks. Besides looking at Pearce’s life and interviewing his friends and family, the film also delves into the “soul” of this extreme sport, and the passion felt by its participants.
The Cheshire Murders — July 22
Although there are thousands of murders in the United States each year, just a few end up being followed nationally. A recent example was the triple rape-arson-homicide in Cheshire, Conn. in 2007. What started as a home invasion ended with a mother and two daughters dead and a father left alone. This documentary offers exclusive interviews that reveal new details about the crime, and shows that there’s more to every story, even “open and shut cases.”
First Comes Love — July 29
Director Nina Davenport opens up about her journey into motherhood as a single, 41-year-old woman hoping to have a baby. Davenport shows the plights of many women, from biological clocks, to hormone injections, to a traditional family’s reaction. Every family is different, and this is just another example.
Casting By — August 5
Have you ever wondered how movies are cast? If so, don’t miss this insightful documentary that looks at two casting directors — Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster — who were revolutionary in their day. In a time when actors were chosen for a part because they were under contract by the studio, these two women helped bring stars like Dustin Hoffman and Bette Midler to our screens, forever changing Hollywood.
Americans In Bed — August 12
What makes your relationship tick? Ten interviews with American couples lying in bed illustrate that age, nationality and sexuality don’t matter when it comes to love. The couples openly discuss what love really is, and how their relationships function on a day-to-day basis, showing a range of emotions, dynamics and scenarios that all end in one place: love.