HBO’s always impressive summer documentary series is underway, with a new documentary airing every Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Today, The New York Times profiles Sheila Nevins, HBO’s president of documentary films who, at 71, has “figured out how to use her editor’s eye, knack for zeroing in on viewers’ appetites, competitive drive and outrageousness to build a successful empire,” and now, “her influence is greater than ever.” She’ll broadcast 45 documentaries this year, and the paper says that in 2009, “the channel originated 60 percent to 70 percent of its documentaries, provided finishing funds to 15 percent and acquired the remainder”; an anonymous executive told the paper that HBO pays “mid to high hundreds of thousands per hour, equal to the highest end of PBS.”
Tonight’s offering is For Neda, filmmaker Antony Thomas’ look at the life of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot and killed during protests in Iran last summer, when footage of her death went viral. HBO’s synopsis says that the production was done “without official approval and at great risk, [as] Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan worked secretly inside Iran to locate and film interviews with Neda’s family for the first time.” The network calls the film “a portrait of a young woman whose ordinary desires for personal freedom and self-expression were confined by living in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and notes that “[e]ven as a young girl, Neda strove to lead her life in opposition to the regime’s restrictive treatment of women”