OWN: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK is producing five OWN original two-hour documentaries with Julia Roberts, Forest Whitaker, Goldie Hawn, Gabriel Byrne and Mariel Hemingway, OWN announced Monday.
The films will be presented as part of OWN’s monthly documentary film club, along with the original acquisitions LIFE 2.0 and SONS OF PERDITION. The documentary club will spotlight these films and the previously announced FAMILY AFFAIR, focusing on cinematic documentaries that encourage emerging creative voices to bring their stories to a mainstream television audience on OWN.
“All of these documentaries fundamentally explore human interaction, relationships and emotions,” said Lisa Erspamer, chief creative officer, OWN. “We’re excited to provide viewers with new perspectives and new ways of looking at core themes that shape and affect their lives.”
Presented and executive produced by Julia Roberts’ Red Om Films, EXTRAORDINARY MOMS explores the power of mothers, featuring courageous, brilliant and awe-inspiring women who share a powerful connection: the love they have for their children combined with a fierce desire to protect the future of all children. These women are living proof that a mother’s strength can fight armies, outwit politicians, demand that corporations change their priorities and work to preserve the ecological balance of the world. One mom can change the course of history. The film is produced by Creative Visions Productions and Red Om Films, with executive producers Kathy Eldon, Lisa Gillan and Philip Rose and producers Jacoba Atlas and Kyra Thompson.
Narrated and executive produced by Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker, ONE LAST SHOT takes viewers inside Louisiana’s maximum security prison at Angola, where the average sentence is more than 90 years. The prisoners within its walls are the worst of the worst – rapists, kidnappers and murderers. With prison sentences so long, 85 percent will never again live in the outside world. Instead, they will grow old and die in Angola. ONE LAST SHOT documents an extraordinary hospice program where hardened criminals care for their dying fellow inmates. In doing so, they embark on a journey that may end in personal rehabilitation. “One last shot reveals the humanity that exists inside each and every one of us,” said Whitaker. “In the Angola prison’s hospice, we meet inmates who decide to take an opportunity for redemption, reminding us of the connection that exists between each and every human being.” The volunteers are trained, pushed and tested. Some fail, but some succeed and discover that the human touch can reach the soul. “I thought maybe if I helped somebody else,” one inmate says, “that would help relieve some of the guilt.” This film is produced by Lightworks Pictures in association with KPI. Executive producers are Nick Stuart and Molly Fowler. The film is produced and directed by Lisa R. Cohen.
Goldie Hawn executive produces, hosts and narrates SEARCHING FOR HAPPINESS, a documentary that examines the age-old quest that has motivated civilization and technological progress: the pursuit of happiness. The secret to a truly happy life is an elusive mystery, and statistics show that as society progresses, people are becoming less and less happy. This film shines a light on the revolutionary field of positive psychology, which proves we have the power within us to choose happiness. “My curiosity on the subject of happiness and optimism started in adolescence, when the main goal in my life was to be and stay happy,” says Hawn, an Academy Award®-winning actress, author and producer. “After many years of exploring positive psychology, neuroscience and human behavior, I am thrilled to share valuable factual information from experts around the world, as well as my own personal experiences, to give our audience tools to live happier lives.” Ms. Hawn will executive produce along with Mark Ford and Kevin Lopez of Creature Films.
Executive producers Gabriel Byrne and Leora Rosenberg, producer/director Steven Cantor and Stick Figure Productions present TENT CITY, a documentary exploring homelessness in Nashville, Tenn. With the economic recession, a growing number of people are finding themselves in a position they never imagined, homeless. TENT CITY explores a community of nearly 100 homeless individuals who live under a downtown bridge. The group is self-sustained and self-governed. They work to stay together after a devastating flood destroys their land and forces them to evacuate. As a result of the disaster, for the first time in Nashville history, the municipally run Homeless Commission has opened one seat on its council to a resident of Tent City. This opportunity will allow the winning Tent City individual the chance to spearhead the search for a new location. TENT CITY will follow the four candidates as they vie for election and the process of moving the camp and keeping the community together. “Shelter and home are the most basic human and fundamental human rights, yet increasingly in one of the world’s wealthiest societies, more and more of us are losing our homes. How we address this social epidemic may very well determine our future. This isn’t an abstract concept but a reality millions of Americans confront every day. Our sons, our daughters, our fathers and mothers are the homeless,” says executive producer Gabriel Byrne.
SEVEN SUICIDES is an original documentary following Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she explores the legacy of suicide and depression in one of America’s foremost literary families. She reflects on her family history and the path she has built to avoid the same troubling depression suffered by so many of her relatives. Mariel lost her sister Margaux to suicide, and her other sister, Muffet, has moved in and out of mental institutions since the age of 16. Mariel revisits painful moments from her past, and takes a difficult journey to reconnect with her one surviving sister, Muffet.
In addition, three films LIFE 2.0, SONS OF PERDITION, and FAMILY AFFAIR have been acquired through OWN’s partnership with ro*co films international, a leader in the national and international documentary distribution world.
Every day more than half a million users log onto Second Life, a virtual online world not entirely unlike our own. They enter a new reality populated by avatars, where escapism abounds, relationships are formed and a real-world economy thrives. LIFE 2.0 explores the lives of several Second Life residents, whose real lives have been drastically transformed by the new lives they lead in cyberspace. Mixing high drama and humor, LIFE 2.0 uniquely explores the promise, perils and implications of virtual worlds for society at large. An Andrew Lauren Productions and PalmStar Entertainment presentation, LIFE 2.0 is produced, directed and edited by Jason Spingarn-Koff; produced by Andrew Lauren and Stephan Paternot; co-produced by Jonathan Shukat; with Dan Krauss as director of photography; music by Justin Melland; and additional editing by Shannon Kennedy.
SONS OF PERDITION takes viewers inside the lives of three teenage boys after they escape from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound on the Utah/Arizona border, the oldest polygamist community in the United States. Here men have plural wives, donate their property to the church and swear obedience to their prophet. In 2003, a new leader came to power: Warren Jeffs, the despised son of the former prophet. A student of Hitler, Jeffs attempted to cleanse his flock by banning public schooling, “gentile” books and recreations like sports, movies and television. He excommunicated hundreds of prominent elders, giving their wives and children to other men. Hundreds of teenage boys were exiled to the streets of neighboring communities. Many more fled, giving up their families and salvation for the hope of freedom. Like many of the boys, the film’s three young exiles find themselves suddenly penniless and adrift, and searching for meaning in a strange new world, mainstream America. Impact Partners and BBC Storyville present A Left Turn Films production in association with Motto Pictures and Cactus Three. The film is directed by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten and produced by Julie Goldman, Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten.
The previously announced FAMILY AFFAIR, an independent feature-length documentary film written and produced by Chico David Colvard, is an intensely personal documentary that examines Colvard’s compelling family history. At 10 years old, Chico Colvard shot his older sister in the leg. This seemingly random act detonated a chain reaction that exposed unspeakable realities and shattered his family. Thirty years later, Colvard ruptures veils of secrecy and silence again. Dan Cogan and Abigail Disney serve as executive producers, Rachel J. Clark as editor, Academy Award®-nominated Liz Garbus as producer and Miriam Cutler as composer.
About OWN: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
A joint venture between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, OWN: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK is a multiplatform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut in January 1, 2011, in approximately 80 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel. The venture also will include the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com. For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own.