Monday Memo: Nevins to Leave HBO After Nearly 40 Years

After a week off, I’ve returned to a short stack of doc news that packed quite a punch over the last few days. Most notably, Sheila Nevins, the 78-year-old president of HBO Documentary Films, has revealed that after 38 years of devout service she has decided to leave HBO, reflecting, “I have deprived my life of a life. All I did was work. I was, like, born at HBO and I don’t have to die there. If I stayed any longer, I probably would have died at my desk. I just regret that there’s so little time left.” In Maureen Dowd‘s revelatory feature in The New York Times, she notes, “With a storytelling style that grabs viewers by the throat, Ms. Nevins helped change the image of documentaries from stodgy to provocative. And she helped HBO amass such a pile of Emmys, Peabodys and Oscars that there’s a roomful of glittering laurels at headquarters that’s known as the Holy Shrine of Sheila. She received the first Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award given to a documentarian.” In a separate piece, Dowd played Confirm or Deny with Nevins.

Another sudden departure came as a surprise when filmmaker Morgan Spurlock published a confessional piece titled “I am Part of the Problem,” in which he reveals that in his past a women he had a one night stand with believed that she had been raped, and a former coworker was paid a settlement to keep silent about his history of verbal sexual harassment toward her. Christine Hauser reported the news in The New York Times, while at Realscreen, Daniele Alcinii followed the aftermath of the revelations, seeing Spurlock exit Warrior Poets, the New York-based studio he founded with producing partner Jeremy Chilnick, and NBA superstar LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment cutting ties with the filmmaker on a planned docuseries focusing on the opening of James’ “I Promise School” — a new public school dedicated to supporting at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

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Monday Memo: The Documentary ELENA Lands at Theaters

The film ELENA from director Petra Costa hit theaters this week.

This week the expressionist doc ELENA from Brazilian director Petra Costa bowed at the IFC Center for a theatrical run. At the New York Times, Stephen Holden reviewed the film. John Anderson of Indiewire also wrote a review of the doc.

Writing for the New York Times, Brooks Barnes reported on a new short film series from Morgan Spurlock and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen focused on the economy. Melina Gills of Indiewire also reported on the new project. And Variety’s Todd Spangler reported that American Express had sponsored a doc about families struggling in the current economic climate set to debut on the Young Turks YouTube and Hulu channels.

This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of the Doug Block film 112 WEDDINGS on Tuesday, June 3 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. The film visits several couples for whom Block shot a wedding video. Following the screening Block and several film subjects will be in attendance for a Q&A. You can find more information and purchase tickets here. Writing for Canada’s POV Magazine, Marc Glassman penned a review of the film.

Stranger Than Fiction has also confirmed THE LAST MOGUL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LEW WASSERMAN for its June 10 screening. The film, directed by Barry Avrich, is a doc biopic of Wasserman. Avrich will be in attendance following the screening for a Q&A. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.

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