Docs

CNN Films, Time Studios team for Gabrielle Giffords doc from “RBG” filmmakers

CNN Films and Time Studios are partnering with Emmy-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG, Julia) and producers Lisa Erspamer and Sam Jinishian for Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, a documentary about ...
January 26, 2022

CNN Films and Time Studios are partnering with Emmy-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG, Julia) and producers Lisa Erspamer and Sam Jinishian for Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, a documentary about former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in a 2011 assassination attempt that left her with partial paralysis and the language impairment aphasia.

Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt by a lone gunman during an outreach event in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. She was shot in the head during the attack, which left 13 other people injured and six dead, including a nine-year-old girl.

The film, which is currently nearing completion, will chart Giffords’ miraculous recovery and her path to becoming an advocate for the prevention of gun violence. It will include home movies taken at the hospital during Giffords’ recuperation, as well as interviews and cinema verité-style content shot in the present. Among those interviewed are former president Barack Obama, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. James Clyburn, as well as Giffords’ family and friends, her surgeon, and other survivors of the shooting.

The documentary will also focus on Giffords’ relationship with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly — who gave up his job at NASA to support his wife during her recovery — and features footage of Giffords on the 2020 campaign trail supporting Kelly’s successful run for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.

The project marks the latest collaboration between CNN Films and Storyville Films, who previously partnered on Julia, a documentary about chef, TV star and author Julia Child, which was recently shortlisted in the Documentary Feature category for the Academy Awards. They also teamed on the Oscar-nominated doc RBG, about the life and legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“We are so pleased to collaborate again with Betsy and Julie to tell the story of a remarkable woman,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide. “They have beautifully showcased Gabrielle Giffords’ journey, one of strength and resilience in the face of tragedy.”

Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down is executive produced by Entelis and Courtney Sexton for CNN Films, with Ian Orefice and Alexandra Johnes serving as executive producers for Time Studios, and Oren Jacoby for Storyville Films. Cohen and West are producing the film under their Storyville Films banner, along with Lisa Erspamer of Lisa Erspamer Entertainment and Sam Jinishian of Storyville Films.

The deal for Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, both of CNN Worldwide, on behalf of CNN Films. CNN Films retains worldwide television rights, while other rights for the film remain available. CAA Media Finance and UTA are co-representing worldwide rights.

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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