HBO profiles the life of murdered Iranian protester Neda as part of its summer doc series

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”

The entire film is on YouTube (below), and there are also versions in Farsi and in Arabic.

The Force Behind HBO’s Documentaries [New York Times]

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.