CNN Films, the feature doc arm of news giant CNN Worldwide, has picked up the forthcoming doc on U.S. film critic Roger Ebert, directed by Steve James (pictured, left) and backed by Martin Scorsese (right).
CNN Films has acquired U.S. broadcast rights to the previously reported on documentary, which is being exec produced by Scorsese and Steve Zaillian, and is based upon Ebert’s own memoir Life Itself.
The film is being produced by Kartemquin Films with Zaillian and Garrett Basch’s Film Rites, and will be released theatrically prior to airing on CNN in 2014.
In addition, CNN unveiled two new projects in Park City, from filmmakers Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times) and from the co-directorial team of Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein (Fightville), both of which are expected to air on CNN this year.
The as-yet-untitled Tucker/Epperlein-directed project “uses the prism of still photography to reconstruct the events at Ground Zero, and around the country, in the days immediately after the September 11 attacks,” according to CNN, which added that the film “reveals secret stories behind some of the most extraordinary pictures from that horrific day, and examines how images help us heal and understand.”
Meanwhile, Rossi’s as-yet-untitled film “examines the historic transformation under way in higher education.” The film will use stories from students, teachers and administrators “from the Ivy League to community colleges across the country” to look at the state of education in America.
As previously reported, Rossi – along with Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney – penned a development deal with CNN Films to make original content for the division, which launched last October.
“CNN is proud to announce these production agreements at this festival, which has done so much to support independent storytelling,” said CNN Worldwide managing editor Mark Whitaker. “Our aim at CNN Films is to showcase the work of exceptional documentary filmmakers and to build conversations around the issues they raise across our global platforms.”
The news comes after CNN Films previously acquired Richard E. Robbins’s Girl Rising last spring. A sneak peek segment of the doc will screen at Sundance on Monday evening (January 21).