HBO Unveils Documentary Slate for Second Half of 2019


HBO has confirmed its slate of documentaries for the rest of the year, including Roger Ross Williams’ The Apollo, an insider’s look at the history and legacy of the legendary Apollo Theater.

The slate’s other highlights include Emmy winner Susan Lacy’s Very Ralph, the intimate story of fashion icon Ralph Lauren; Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Diane von Furstenberg’s Liberty: Mother of Exiles, a revealing look at one of the most beloved icons in the world; and McMillions, a documentary series from executive producer Mark Wahlberg chronicling the stranger-than-fiction story of how an ex-cop rigged McDonald’s Monopoly game promotion for over a decade and stole millions.

Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist is set to bow on the network on July 31. It follows the life of Mohammed Emwazi, better known as “Jihadi John,” who is notorious across the globe for broadcasting his brutal executions of Western hostages. Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America, debuting August 14, explores the changing attitudes, rituals and mechanics of death, including the ways it is recognized and how the end of life is approached.

Further, In the Shadow of the Towers: Stuyvesant High on 9/11, which was directed and produced by Emmy winner Amy Schatz and premieres on the anniversary of the event, offers a different perspective on the September 11 attacks, interviewing eight adults who were students at Stuyvesant High School—just blocks away from Ground Zero—on that fateful day. Meanwhile, Buzz follows Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Buzz Bissinger as he experiences a sexual awakening while collaborating with Caitlyn Jenner on her tell-all memoir. It’s set to bow on September 25.

The documentary news series Axios has four more episodes set for an October release. The series will continue to work with leading Axios journalists to highlight the week ahead in politics, business and technology, as well as other big topics shaping the future. Letter to the Editor—composed entirely of newspaper photographs—is also set for October and is acclaimed filmmaker Alan Berliner’s personal journey through 40 years of pictorial history culled from daily printed editions of The New York Times.

Torn Apart: Separated at the Border (October) follows the story of two mothers who were each separated from their children in the U.S. for months after fleeing from danger in their homelands to seek asylum. The Bronx, USA, also debuting in October, features members of producer George Shapiro’s graduating class of 1949 from DeWitt Clinton High School, as well as students from 2017’s graduating class. Set against the sociocultural history of the Bronx, the film interviews Robert Klein, Gen. Colin Powell, Melissa Manchester, Chazz Palminteri, Alan Alda, Melle Mel, Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner.

Ernie & Joe chronicles the daily life of Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, as they put compassionate policing practices into action. Art of Political Murder, based on Francisco Goldman’s book of the same name and executive produced by Oscar-winning actor George Clooney and Grant Heslov, tells the story of the 1998 murder of Guatemalan human rights activist Bishop Juan Gerardi. Both are slated for November releases.

Lastly, set for December premieres are: Saudi Women’s Driving School, which follows Saudi women as they embrace a new way of life and the freedom that comes from being behind the wheel; Moonlight Sonata, an intergenerational tale of deafness that chronicles the life of 11-year-old Jonas, who has a cochlear implant and is struggling to learn Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata; and Finding the Way Home, which showcases J.K. Rowling’s LUMOS foundation as it reveals the distressing circumstances for the eight million children living in orphanages and other institutions around the world.