CNN launches CNN Films documentary division

Michelle Clancy | 09-10-2012

CNN has created CNN Films to handle production and distribution of feature-length documentaries for air on CNN and CNN International, alongside theatrical distribution. The move is part of a wider strategy to acquire original non-fiction content to complement CNN's news programmes, the company said.

"CNN Films will bring distinguished, thought-provoking documentary programming to our global audiences on all our television, online, and mobile platforms," said CNN Worldwide Managing Editor Mark Whitaker. "We want these documentaries to tell compelling stories and stimulate important discussions across CNN's other programmes and Web sites."

Girl Rising, the first documentary acquired by CNN Films, will air in spring 2013. The film, which inspired a global action campaign to promote girls' education called 10x10, tells the extraordinary stories of several girls from around the globe fighting to overcome impossible odds to realise their dreams. The film includes voice performances by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington and Selena Gomez.

CNN Films has also signed development deals with director and producer Alex Gibney "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer) and director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times).

CNN Films' original, feature-length documentaries will examine an array of political, social and economic subject matter. The films will premiere in primetime and will re-air in order to increase exposure. Surrounding the premiere of each documentary, CNN programmes will run dedicated programming that sheds light on the topics and issues discussed in each film. In-depth interviews, expert commentary, roundtable discussions, debates and behind-the-scenes footage will be featured across all of CNN's broadcast and online platforms.

Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, will oversee the acquisition strategy of documentaries under the CNN Films banner. Malhotra will manage the day-to-day operation of CNN Films, and work directly with filmmakers to develop original projects.

CNN Films also plans to bring the documentaries beyond the small screen by developing strategic partnerships to leverage distribution opportunities at film festivals and in theatres.