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‘Marina Abramovic,’ ‘Your Sister’s Sister,’ ‘Patang,’ ‘The Art of Rap,’ ‘The Girl From The Naked Eye’: Specialty Box Office

Movies Opening This WeekHBO came on board with Sundance 2012 documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present after seeing the Serbian performance artist at MoMA. The company’s maverick non-fiction guru Sheila Nevins gave the lowdown on the premium channel’s association with the documentary, which had already begun shooting before HBO joined the project. Your Sister’s Sister came together with a name cast reminiscent of its director’s previous titles and Patang purposely shot in a documentary style going against convention in India where it takes place. Also opening this weekend is Sundance doc The Art of Rap by rapper Ice-T and The Girl From The Naked Eye, which rolls out in ten markets.

Related: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ Lands Solid And ‘Dark Horse’ Rides
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RFK’s Daughter Rory Kennedy Reflects On ‘Ethel’ And Family: Sundance

By | Sunday January 22, 2012 @ 3:51pm PST

Filmmaker Rory Kennedy is the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and has made over 35 documentaries covering topics ranging from poverty to politics to human rights. Her latest feature Ethel is a personal look at her mother Ethel Kennedy who raised 11 children on her own following the assassination of RFK in Los Angeles in 1968. Yet she told Deadline this weekend at Sundance where her HBO-produced film is premiering that she was initially hesitant to take on a film about her mother. The 97-minute doc includes rarely or never-before seen footage of Robert and Ethel Kennedy and interviews with her brothers and sisters. Subjects include the Cuban missile crisis, the civil rights movement and the assassinations of both President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Rory spoke with me after the film’s debut here:

Deadline: So what changed your mind about taking on a film about your mother?
Kennedy: The idea of a film had occurred to me, but it was really Sheila Nevins at HBO who knows my mother who reached out to me. I had long been resistant to doing a documentary about my mother for personal reasons. And I thought there was no way she’d want to, but then I asked her and she said yes. I was both excited and daunted because of all the implications I had to wrap my head around. I also felt that … Read More »

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West Memphis 3 Freed After Plea Deal, And Toronto-Bound Docu Directors Need Ending Change

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The West Memphis 3, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were just freed in an Arkansas hearing after being in prison 18 years for the murder of three children in 1993. The three were freed after pleading guilty and drawing a sentence equal to the time they already served. The original conviction, which was derived despite any physical evidence tying the trio to the murders, became a cause celebre and the West Memphis 3 have received moral and financial support from the likes of The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. The case has also be the subject of two Paradise Lost HBO documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. A third installment will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, followed by the New York Film Festival and a January airing on HBO.

Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh To Reveal Financial And Legal Support For ‘West Memphis 3′ Freedom Effort

EARLIER, AUGUST 18, 8:20 PM EXCLUSIVE: It’s just days before the directors lock their third documentary on the “West Memphis 3″  for premieres at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. But Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory helmers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky raced to Arkansas to prepare to add a new ending. They’ll bring their camera Friday morning to … Read More »

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Foursome Set For DGA Honors On Oct. 13

By | Friday August 12, 2011 @ 11:02am PDT

Nora Ephron, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, IATSE International president Matthew Loeb and HBO Documentary Films’ Sheila Nevins have been tapped for the 2011 DGA Honors, set for Oct. 13 at the DGA Theater in New York. The evening also well feature a posthumous tribute to pioneering early 20th century filmmaker Alice Guy Blache. The guild said the DGA Honors celebrate “individuals and institutions that have made distinguished contributions to American culture through the world of film and television and recognizes the diversity of achievement — in business, government, labor and higher education — required to produce the best entertainment in the world.”

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Sundance: HBO Acquires Docu ‘Hot Coffee’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO has closed a deal for Hot Coffee, the Susan Saladoff-directed competition documentary which focuses on  how corporations have used the memory of outlandish legal verdicts as a way to press for tort reforms and avoid jury trials through arbitration on cases that actually have merit.

HBO’s Sheila Nevins viewed the documentary after it premiered last Monday. I’m told the deal was mid to high six-figures. HBO licensed the film for broadcast and VOD for 2 years, and will afford the film a qualifying Oscar theatrical run before it airs on the pay channel. Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina brokered the sale. Carly Hugo and Alan Oxman produced with Saladoff.

The film’s title refers to the famous case of a woman”s million dollar judgment from McDonald’s over a spilled cup of coffee. Saladin, a lawyer, focuses on other outrageous cases that illustrated where corporations were negligent or unresponsive. They include a case involving Halliburton, which housed a 19-year old worker overseas in a barracks with men and ignored her concerns. She was gang-raped.

HBO had a busy Sundance, acquiring remake rights to turn the documentary Knuckle into a potential TV series with Rough House Productions, and making a preemptive acquisition of the docu Project Nim and then setting up theatrical distribution through Roadside Attractions.

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Sundance: Roadside Attractions To Release ‘Project Nim’

Mike Fleming

Following the preemptive acquisition of the documentary Project Nim by HBO, there was some question of whether theatrical distributors would be as excited about acquiring the film, when all of its rights were now spoken for. Roadside Attractions has stepped up. Here’s the release:

Park City, UT (January 27, 2011) – HBO has partnered with Roadside Attractions for US theatrical and DVD rights to PROJECT NIM, the 2011 Sundance Film Festival opener in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, it was announced today by Sheila Nevins, President, HBO Documentary Films and Howard Cohen, Co-President Roadside Attractions. The film will go out theatrically through Roadside Attractions, on television through HBO and on DVD through Lionsgate.

From the Oscar©-winning team behind MAN ON WIRE, director James Marsh and producer Simon Chinn, comes the story of Nim, a chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Following Nim’s extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human.

The deal was negotiated by HBO, Submarine’s Josh Braun and Roadside Attractions’ Howard Cohen.

“James Marsh and I are absolutely thrilled to be working with Roadside Attractions and HBO Documentary Films on the US theatrical release of

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