MTV has unveiled the first two projects to emerge from its Documentary Films division, headed by heralded, multi-award-winning former HBO Documentary Films chief Sheila Nevins.
The feature-length 17 Blocks (pictured) from Davy Rothbart and doc short St. Louis Superman from directors Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan will be released this fall by MTV with an aim to qualify them for awards consideration. The films will also be part of the slate for Michael Moore’s upcoming Traverse City Film Festival.
Rothbart’s 17 Blocks, executive produced by Nevins and produced and financed by Big Beach’s Alex Turtletaub, Michael B. Clark and Marc Turtletaub alongside Rachel Deniz and Rothbart, spans 20 years in the lives of the Sanford family, an African American family living blocks away from the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. It took the honors for Best Documentary Film Editing at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Audience Award and Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, Best North American Documentary Feature at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival and the Excellence in American Profiles Award at the San Francisco Documentary Festival.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Superman focuses on Representative Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected into the predominantly white, Republican Missouri House of Representatives. It’s produced by Mundhra, Khan and Poh Si Teng, executive produced by Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker, and has already claimed the jury prize for Best Documentary Short at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs and the Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival.
“At the heart of American democracy, there is an injustice that gnaws at the soul of the have-nots and Davy Rothbart’s 17 Blocks and Smitri Mundhra and Sami Khan’s St. Louis Superman are two films that expose both the injustices and courage of Americans who survive against almost insurmountable odds,” said Nevins in a statement. “MTV Documentary Films’ foray begins with these two impactful films.”
Nevins’ appointment as head of MTV’s nascent Documentary Films division, under the MTV Studios umbrella, was announced in May of this year.