Docs

CNN Films, HBO Max team on “Navalny,” doc thriller on Russian opposition leader

CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Fishbowl Films, Raefilm Studios and Cottage M, are partnering on Navalny, a new documentary about Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei ...
January 14, 2022

CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Fishbowl Films, Raefilm Studios and Cottage M, are partnering on Navalny, a new documentary about Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny.

Described as a “fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller,” the film depicts a tense period in which Navalny survived a 2020 assassination attempt by poisoning with a lethal nerve agent, which resulted in a months-long recovery process in a German hospital. Despite the risks to his safety, he returned to Russia in Janary of 2021 and was immediately arrested upon landing in Moscow. He has been imprisoned ever since on a prior suspended sentence.

Navalny is directed by Daniel Roher (Once Were Brothers) and produced by Odessa Rae for Raefilm Studios, Diane Becker and Melanie Miller for Fishbowl Films, and Shane Boris for Cottage M. Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton of CNN Films, along with Maria Pevchikh, serve as executive producers. CNN will broadcast Navalny in North America, with HBO Max and CNN+ retaining streaming rights. Other distribution rights for the film are still available.

The deal for Navalny was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs for CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films and CNN+.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to share Alexei’s gripping story with the world,” said Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films. “With unmatched access to Alexei himself, Daniel and the entire team have masterfully delivered a fascinating, raw thriller.”

Added Roher: “Having a front seat to history while shooting this film was a life-changing experience. I am grateful to CNN Films and HBO Max for their unwavering support and their commitment to amplifying the unbelievable story of one man and his fight against an authoritarian regime.”

CNN Films recently released Julia, about chef and TV star Julia Child, with Imagine Documentaries for Sony Pictures Classics, which was recently shortlisted for the Academy Awards in the documentary feature category.

Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images

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 HMV.com. 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.

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