HBO Documentary Films reveals its summer doc slate

The consequences of natural gas drilling, profiling the first American paparazzo and the controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian are all subjects of HBO documentaries set to air this summer, beginning with Smash His Camera on June 7.
April 22, 2010

The consequences of natural gas drilling, profiling the first American paparazzo and the controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian are all subjects of HBO documentaries set to air this summer, beginning with Smash His Camera on June 7.

Smash His Camera, directed by Leon Gast (When We Were Kings), is a documentary exploring the work of Ron Galella, photographer of stars from Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol and Jackie Onassis, which debates freedom of the press versus privacy rights. The doc gained Gast a Best Director award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Next up is For Neda, about Neda Agha-Soltan, who became the face of Iran’s post-election protests in June 2009, after she was fatally shot and her death was captured on camera. The doc explores Agha-Soltan’s story, speaking to her family inside Iran. It is directed by Antony Thomas and will air on June 14.

On June 21, Sundance’s Special Jury Prize winner Gasland will debut. Directed by first-time filmmaker Josh Fox, Gasland looks at the natural gas industry’s method of hydraulic fracturing and its effects on the surrounding water supply. If you haven’t seen someone light the water coming out of their tap on fire, here’s your chance.

The controversial Dr. Kevorkian, sometimes dubbed ‘Dr. Death’ for his involvement with assisted suicides, is the subject of June 28′s doc offering, the Matthew Galkin-directed Kevorkian. The film features interviews with family, friends, journalists and ‘Dr. Death’ himself to give a fuller picture of Kevorkian, who is also a painter, composer and inventor. (HBO also gives Kevorkian the fictional treatment, with a Barry Levinson-directed biopic, You Don’t Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.)

On the subject of death, No One Dies in Lily Dale is the next doc in HBO’s summer slate. Set to air on July 5, the Steven Cantor-helmed documentary looks at the small village of Lily Dale in New York, which has the largest collection of mediums. Mediums and those who flock to the village to hear messages from beyond the grave are chronicled.

A Small Act, airing on July 12, is the product of paying it forward. The film follows Kenyan Chris Mburu’s journey to find the woman who sponsored him as a young man, paying for his education and thus changing his life. The film is directed by Jennifer Arnold and was both an official selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and Hot Docs.

Winning the lottery isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in Jeffrey Blitz’s Lucky, airing on July 19. The filmmaker goes across the country to find lottery winners and those dreaming to win the lottery, to find the consequences of living the American dream. Attorneys, security guards, strained friendships are all part of the prize’s package.

HBO moves from the suddenly wealthy to those down on their luck, with Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County. Directed and produced by Alexandra Pelosi, the film documents a summer with a class of homeless kids who live in one of the richest place in the U.S. It will air on July 26.

August will see two documentaries debut, one on the abortion rights battle and the other about learning to salsa in Spanish Harlem. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady direct 12th and Delaware, about the Florida street corner named in the title that houses both an abortion clinic and across from it, a pro-life center. The directors get unprecedented access to both places and spotlight the women caught in the middle of the battle. It airs on August 2, while on August 9, El Espiritu De La Salsa broadcasts. The film, directed by Jon Alpert, Francisco Bello, Matthew O’Neill and Timothy Sternberg, looks at the various people from all walks of life who join together at a dance school in Spanish Harlem to learn salsa. The dancers have a timeline of six weeks to prepare for a public performance.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.