Less than a week before Comcast and Department of Justice lawyers will face off against Byron Allen in the Supreme Court in the Entertainment Studios boss' $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against the NBCUniverisal owner, a prominent member of Congress now wants the telecommunications giant brought down to size.
AP “Comcast has enjoyed the largesse — as has the cable industry, in general — of the AfricanAmerican and other minority communities and has reached such prominence that it now disregard these communities with a cold, callous corporate insensitivity that is stultifying, arrogant, harmful, and intensely painful,” writes Rep. Bobby Rush in a letter last night to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts that Deadline has obtained.
“Simply put, it is my belief that the Comcast Corporation needs to be broken up,” declares the long serving Illinois Democratic Congressman, who sits on the influential Energy and Commerce committee and chairs its consumer protection subcommittee.
Similar to statements by Presidential hopefuls Senator Kamala Harris D-CA and Senator Cory Booker D-NJ and other members of Congress, Rep. Rush is dismayed that Philadelphia-based Comcast in its battle with Allen has gotten in bed with the Trump Administration to force a potentially pivotal change to Civil War era passed civil rights enhancing legislation in the case that is to be heard before the nine justices on November 13.
While Congress doesn't directly have the power to shatter corporate empires, they certainly have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas and shine a very bright spotlight on the likes of Roberts and Comcast. Of course, such a spotlight can put pressure on the executive branch to take action too, regardless of if it is a Republican or Democrat in the White House. Known to be close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it also wasn't' an accident that Rep. Rush cc'd Attorney General Bill Barr, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission in his correspondence to CEO Roberts of November 7, if you know what I mean?
In a dust-up with long term political, civil rights and corporate implications in which the likes of the NAACP, the ACLU, National Urban League and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among others, have come out swinging against Comcast, the symbolism of Rush's declaration could hold great weight.
“Comcast's actions today call into question why it signed Memoranda of Understanding hereafter, memoranda on diversity with the Asian American Justice Center, East West Players, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, Japanese American Citizens League, Media Action Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Action Network, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Urban League, and Organization of Chinese Americans,” Rush notes in his letter to Roberts. “Further, we must note that these memoranda were instrumental in securing the support of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus for its acquisition of NBC Universal. The contradictory nature of its legal argument leads me to believe that these memoranda were signed merely for political expediency.”
Once a very vocal proponent of Comcast's acquisition of an initial majority stake in NBCUniversal almost a decade ago, the turn of Chicago Congressman Rush, who is known to joke that he is the only person to ever beat Barack Obama in an election, puts the company clearly on the defensive.
“There is no major media company in America that has done more to promote diverse programming than Comcast,” a spokesperson for the company told Deadline in response to Rep. Rush's letter. “We've gone above and beyond the MOUs from the NBCUniversal transaction in every case. While Byron Allen chose not to participate in the MOU process that brought four African American owned networks on to our cable lineups, entrepreneurs who started the channels ASPiRE, REVOLT, AFRO, and CLEO TV, have all launched with our support. Our film divisions are making films like Us, Get Out, Straight Outta Compton, Harriet, Girls Trip, Little, and Queen and Slim, all with African American directors and stars. We've dramatically increased on air and behind the camera diversity across all of NBCUniversal.”
“We believe that the civil rights laws are an essential tool for protecting the rights of African-Americans and other diverse communities,” Comcast further states. “We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument narrowly focused. We are not seeking to roll back any civil rights laws — all we are asking is that section 1981 in our case be interpreted the same way it has been interpreted for decades across the country.”
While Comcast avoided Rush's throwing down of the gauntlet of corporate disintegration, Byron Allen has a much more concise reaction.
“I am highly confident that if Comcast shows up in the U.S. Supreme Court next week to challenge the civil rights of over 100 million Americans, Comcast will be broken up,” the mogul asserts.
Entertainment Studios Having first sued Comcast and a number of other companies a few years back on the premise that they had violated the Civil Rights Act after he unsuccessfully tried for years to get the cablers to carry his networks, Allen saw mixed results. Now WarnerMedia-owning AT&T settled, but in the cases with Comcast and Charter, Entertainment Studios suffered a series of losses in other cases. However, in February, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Comcast and Charter's motion to toss the multibillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit against them. Quickly, Comcast moved to take the matter before Chief Justice John Roberts no relation to CEO Brian Roberts before it went back to the trial courts.
With lobbyists galore in the nation's capital, Comcast suddenly was handed an early Christmas present from the Trump administration on August 15, when the DOJ filed a brief in the matter that seeks to tighten the definitions of the Reconstruction Era statute in the City of Brotherly Love-based corporation's favor.
The feds' brief frames the statute to require that Entertainment Studios has to prove race was not merely a motivating factor, as the 9th Circuit interpreted the statute earlier this summer, but the only factor — a near impossible standard, especially without direct access to corporate documents. In a very rare move, Comcast are handing over 10 minutes of their time before the SCOTUS for Solicitor General Noel Francisco and DOJ lawyers argue the matter before the increasingly conservative court.
All of which makes the stakes all the greater next Wednesday.
Allen and Entertainment Studios are represented in the case by a team from Miller Bardondess LLP and University of California Berkeley School of Law's Erwin Chemerinsky. Attorneys from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP are working for Comcast in the matter.
Megyn Kelly announced a comeback on Friday, teasing an interview that will be posted on Instagram and YouTube — an interview with a woman who was fired after she was suspected of leaking a video hot mic moment of ABC News' Amy Robach, complaining that the network didn't jump on the Jeffrey Epstein story three years ago.
“We just sat down with her, and we got the full story, and I think you are going to be fascinated by it,” Kelly said in an Instagram post.
The woman, a producer, had since moved to CBS News, but after right-wing site Project Veritas posted the footage, ABC News reportedly informed their rival network of what had happened. Kelly said that the employee was fired because she had “marked” the video of Robach, but they “suspected that she leaked” the video.
Spokespersons for ABC News and CBS News did not immediately return requests for comment.
Inthe video, which was from last summer, Robach says, “I had this interview with Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told, 'Who's Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story. Then the palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways. We were so afraid we wouldn't be able to interview Kate and Will that we, that also quashed the story.”
After the video was posted at Project Veritas, Robach issued a new statement. She said that she was caught “in a private moment of frustration.”
“I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn't air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC's editorial standards about her allegations.” she said. “My comments about Prince Andrew and her allegation that she had seen Bill Clinton on Epstein's private island were in reference to what Virginia Roberts said in that interview in 2015. I was referencing her allegations — not what ABC News had verified through our reporting.
“The interview itself, while I was disappointed it didn't air, didn't meet our standards. In the years since no one ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, and we have continued to aggressively pursue this important story.”
Kelly left NBC in January, after her daytime series Megyn Kelly Today was cancelled. She appeared last month on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, Kelly's first interview since exiting NBC. She criticized the network for the way it handled the Harvey Weinstein story, which was the subject of Ronan Farrow's book, Catch & Kill.
CBS has put in development dramas Vanishing Point, from writer Breen Frazier Criminal Minds, and The Honorable from Everybody Hates Chris co-creator Ali Leroi and Michelle Amor Playin' For Love. Both hail from Jay and Phil McGraw's Stage 29 Productions and CBS Television Studios, where Stage 29 is under a first-look deal.
Your Complete Guide to Pilots and Straight-to-Series orders
Written by Frazier, Vanishing Point revolves around a cavalier but brilliant behavioral psychologist and his methodical FBI agent ex-wife, who are forced to re-team together on a missing persons case that may in fact be the spark they need to rekindle their relationship and finally locate their own teenage son who disappeared years before.
Frazier executive produces with Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw, Julia Eisenman for Stage 29 Productions, along with Marc Provissiero and Bob Odenkirk for Odenkirk Provissiero, and Lee Schneller and Jeremy Evans.
Chicago mayoral drama The Honorable is written by Leroi and Amor. In The Honorable, for the young, idealistic new mayor of Chicago, winning the election will seem like a cakewalk compared to the challenges of running one of the most politically fraught cities in the world, balancing her own tangled personal life, and navigating an old rivalry with a powerful family.
Leroi executive produces with Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw, Julia Eisenman for Stage 29 Productions. Amor is co-executive producer. CBS Television Studios is the studio for both projects.
Frazier has been with Criminal Minds since the series' launch, starting as producer and rising through the ranks to his current role as executive producer. Frazier also was a co-producer on Ghost Whisperer and worked on Alias and Roswell.
LeRoi co-created Everybody Hates Chris, which aired from 2005-2009, first on UPN then moving to the CW for its final three seasons. He also created TBS comedy Are We There Yet, which aired for three seasons, and was an executive producer on Survivor's Remorse.
Amor's writing credits include features Of Boys and Men and Playin' For Love.
On the Netflix Hollywood compound recently, a capacity crowd gathered in an amphitheater for an event with the crackling energy—and almost the look—of a UFC title bout.
The contenders in the ring at Real to Reel: A Netflix Documentary Showcase Presented by Deadline were all heavyweights, not in MMA but nonfiction filmmaking—Oscar nominees, Emmy winners and Sundance honorees all with important new work streaming on the Netflix platform.
“Documentary filmmaking is about capturing truth,” declared Karim Amer in round 1 of Real to Reel. He and Jehane Noujaim directed The Great Hack, a film untangling the complex Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal that exploded after the 2016 presidential election.
Deadline's Awardsline editor Joe Utichi refereed the discussion, asking Amer and Noujaim about the truth they capture—that information shared by people through social media is “being bought and sold like stocks.”
“In many ways I think people will look back at this time like this was the grand theft, where we gave up so much of our autonomy without fully realizing by [skipping over] the terms and conditions” of social media apps, Amer observed.
The Great Hack has triggered “a really strong reaction,” Noujaim commented. “Everybody who has a cell phone and uses social media...cares about this. From women that have seen it and have decided to delete apps because they've read the terms and conditions and realized they don't want their kid near it to the reaction that we got in Trinidad and Tobago because they realized that their election was manipulated, to here.”
“I think that no matter what happens with the data, we have to mobilize people,” responded Rachel Lears, director of Knock Down the House, which documents the 2018 insurgent primary campaigns of four Democratic women candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“I think that our democracy is stronger the more people believe that their voice matters,” Lears continued. “That's very much what we were trying to do with Knock Down the House is make everyone feel at multiple levels—emotionally, intellectually—that their voice matters and not just their vote but that you can work and organize and come together with your neighbors and friends, colleagues and really build a movement that can challenge established power structures.”
The theme of round 1 of Real to Reel was “The World of 2019.” No film speaks to contemporary times more directly than American Factory, from directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. Issues related to globalization, U.S.-China relations and, indirectly, immigration come up in the documentary about a billionaire Chinese auto glass entrepreneur who built a factory in Dayton, Ohio in the shell of an old GM plant.
Bognar addressed how he and Reichert gained the trust of so many characters—Chinese and American factory workers, managers and even the billionaire chairman himself, Cao Dewang.
“It is an ongoing relationship,” Bognar noted. “Someone can say, 'Yeah, you can hang out with me for awhile,' but if you are not a good person in the room...and say that stupid thing that was in your head you can easily derail a relationship and then the film can go off the track... Access is one thing; trust is a whole other level, and trust is an everyday kind of question.”
Filmmaker Nadia Hallgren developed trust by empathizing with subjects of her short documentary After Maria, about people from Puerto Rico who sought refuge in New York after Hurricane Maria wiped out their island home.
“They're still struggling in the ways that many people do when they don't have active employment,” Hallgren revealed. “There are deep trauma issues from the storm and the way that they were treated while they were in Puerto Rico, having no access to food, having no access to water and then coming to the United States and losing their dignity in a lot of ways, the way that the government handled them. So those experiences don't just go away.”
A year ago the Camp Fire incinerated Paradise, California, killing dozens of residents and displacing tens of thousands of others. Filmmaker Drea Cooper, who had spent time in the community as a boy, returned with cameras to document the devastation for his Netflix short documentary Fire in Paradise.
“What we found was a lot of these people hadn't really told their story yet,” Cooper shared. “This was just an amazing testament to the documentary process where it becomes this therapeutic process and can be very positive and revelatory. It's a chance for a lot of people for the first time to just verbalize what they'd gone through. And just in doing that you could see this weight kind of lift off people.”
Identity was the theme of round 2 of Real to Reel. African-American identity and the struggle to share in American opportunity come into focus in The Black Godfather, about Clarence Avant, a behind-the-scenes power broker who quietly advanced the careers of black entertainment, sports and political figures. While making the film, producer Nicole Avant—Clarence's daughter—discovered how her father helped NFL great Jim Brown transition from the gridiron to movie stardom.
“I did not know the Jim Brown story,” Avant commented. “My dad [had told me] he knew him and helped him with something and then I see the footage. 'Helped him with something? You created a whole career for this person! And helped change civil rights in this country based on him trying to get into Hollywood and get into these films.' I just didn't realize the layers of humanity, the layers of the human soul that we were going to catch...It's about civil rights, social justice, dreaming against all odds, dreaming through adversity, dreaming for other people, serving other people.”
The identity at stake in The Edge of Democracy is an entire country's. Petra Costa's film questions whether her native Brazil is heading back towards dictatorship.
“One of the main things I learned making The Edge of Democracy was how Brazil as a nation decided to forget its past, the time of the military dictatorship and the crimes committed during the military dictatorship,” Costa observed. “As many other nations—Portugal, Spain—they thought that that was the best way to deal with the pain because otherwise it would re-traumatize, it would create anger. The United States did that with slavery to a certain extent and when you do that your past comes back to haunt you.”
The challenge of putting subjects at ease was a constant refrain for filmmakers at the Real to Reel event, whether Brazil's ex-president Dilma Rousseff in The Edge of Democracy or the families in Life Overtakes Me, the short doc by Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas.
“We ate a lot of cookies, we had a lot of cups of coffee. I did magic tricks for the siblings in the families,” Haptas explained. “But it just took a lot of time of being there before some of these parents could tell their very difficult stories.”
The difficult stories in Life Overtakes Me involve refugee children in Sweden. Hundreds of them have mysteriously fallen into a coma-like state, all kids from families traumatized by war in the Middle East.
One such child Samuelson and Haptas filmed eventually awoke, but remembered nothing.
“Basically she said, 'Was I sleeping?' But she just picked up her life as if she'd gone to bed the night before even though she was a year older,” Samuelson stated. “That is not always true for children who undergo this. Sometimes they have some memories. Some of the things they talk about is feeling like they were in a glass cage underwater or if they moved they would die.”
All of the films in the Netflix Real to Reel showcase are contenders this awards season and many have already claimed prizes, including Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. That feature, about a rollicking Dylan tour of 1975, won the Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold & Innovative Filmmaking at the Traverse City Film Festival and it's up for three awards at this weekend's Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.
“Dylan's been such a touchstone for [Scorsese], just the music and the poetry and also the trickster kind of nature of Dylan,” producer Margaret Bodde noted, adding that Dylan—true to form—wasn't the most eager of interviewees. “We have a subject who really was not interested in being there...He didn't want the hundred days [of shooting]. He wanted the least amount of time. 'Get me out of here. I don't remember anything.'”
Dylan wears a mask of white greasepaint at times in Rolling Thunder Revue, in keeping with his desire to remain opaque. The subjects of the Netflix short Ghosts of Sugar Landconcealed their identities behind masks for different reasons—to speak about a fellow Muslim-American friend who left the U.S. to fight for ISIS.
“They wouldn't agree to do it without the masks,” stated Farihah Zaman, the film's producer. “It became really like their avatars. Like, 'Okay, I'll do it but only if I can be Ironman.' We were a little bit surprised to see how much it conveyed emotionally.”
A terrible secret is unmasked in Ed Perkins' film Tell Me Who I Am, the extraordinary story of twins Marcus and Alex Lewis. After Alex sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident, he remembered only his twin Marcus and nothing else. His brother helped Alex reconstruct his memory, but intentionally omitted their devastating childhood of physical and sexual abuse. Over the course of the film, the brothers eventually confronted what really happened.
“That's one of the paradoxes of the story we were lucky enough to tell,” Perkins noted, “which is so often the importance of talking about our past and learning from it is key and yet the human experience also suggests that sometimes it's easier to believe a lie than to admit the truth.”
In recent years Netflix documentaries have claimed multiple Oscars and Oscar nominations, including Icarus, The White Helmets and The Square the latter film directed by The Great Hack's Amer and Noujaim. Nonfiction filmmaking is in the streamer's blood, said Lisa Nishimura, vice president of independent film and documentary features, as she introduced the Real to Reel showcase.
“From the very inception of Netflix...documentaries have always been core and essential to the Netflix experience,” she affirmed. “Our commitment to the craft and to the unique filmmakers who bring these incredible stories alive only continues to grow.”
Documentary group Cinema Eye on Thursday unveiled nominations for the 2020 Cinema Eye Honors, with Netflix’s American Factory and Neon’s Apollo 11 leading the way with five nominations each. Netflix tops all distributors with 17 noms, the most ever in a single year.
Winners will be revealed at a ceremony January 6 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.
American Factory, which counts Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground among its executive producers, and Todd Douglas Miller’s deep dive into the 1969 moon mission Apollo 11 were nominated in the marquee Outstanding Nonfiction Feature category. They are joined there by For Sama, the PBS/Frontline Syrian drama from Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watt; Neon’s Honeyland, the Sundance-winning Macedonian beekeeper tale from Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevsk; 1901 Media’s Mexico City ambulance industry pic Midnight Family; and Amazon Studios’ Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize-winning One Child Nation.
Last year, Hale County This Morning, This Evening took the top award.
Netflix’s record haul todaay included three noms for Beyonce’s Homecoming. Neon, with Apollo 11, Honeyland and The Biggest Little Farm, had 10 noms, and HBO had nine noms including two for its Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland.
Here’s the full list of nominees:
Outstanding Nonfiction Feature
American Factory Directed and Produced by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert Produced by Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello
Apollo 11 Directed and Produced by Todd Douglas Miller Produced by Thomas Petersen and Evan Krauss
For Sama Directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts Produced by Waad al-Kateab
Honeyland Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska Produced by Atanas Georgiev and Ljubomir Stefanov
Midnight Family Directed and Produced by Luke Lorentzen Produced by Kellen Quinn
One Child Nation Directed and Produced by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang Produced by Christoph Jörg, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements and Carolyn Hepburn
American Factory Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
The Cave Feras Fayyad
Cold Case Hammarskjöld Mads Brügger
Honeyland Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
The Hottest August Brett Story
One Child Nation Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang
17 Blocks Jennifer Tiexiera
American Factory Lindsay Utz
Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller
Letter to the Editor Alan Berliner
Mike Wallace is Here Billy McMillin
Aquarela Aimara Reques, Sigrid Dyekjær and Heino Deckert
Apollo 11 Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen and Evan Krauss
The Cave Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær
For Sama Waad Al-Kateab
Midnight Family Luke Lorentzen and Kellen Quinn
Midnight Traveler Emelie Mahdavian and Su Kim
Aquarela Victor Kossokovsky
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch Nicholas De Pencier
Honeyland Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
Midnight Family Luke Lorentzen
What You Gonna Do When the World's On Fire? Diego Romero
Outstanding Original Score
American Factory Chad Cannon
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch Rose Bolton and Norah Lorway
Apollo 11 Matt Morton
Aquarela Eicca Toppinen
Black Mother 4th Disciple
Symphony of the Ursus Factory Dominik Strycharski
Outstanding Graphic Design or Animation
The Great Hack Ash Thorp, Matthew Hornick and Patrick Cederberg
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley Hazel Baird
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements Brian Kinkley and Ben Luce
Our Time Machine Ryan Wehner
The Disappearance of My Mother Directed by Beniamino Barrese
Jawline Directed by Liza Mandelup
Scheme Birds Directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin
Searching Eva Directed by Pia Hellenthal
Swarm Season Directed by Sarah Christman
Symphony of the Ursus Factory Directed by Jasmina Wójcik
Outstanding Nonfiction Short
Crannog Directed by Isa Roa
Fast Horse Directed by Alex Lazarowich
Ghosts of Sugar Land Directed by Bassam Tariq
Lowland Kids Directed by Sandra Winther
Stay Close Directed by Luther Clement and Shuhan Fan
Subject to Review Directed by Theo Anthony
Audience Choice Prize
17 Blocks Directed by Davy Rothbart
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary Directed by Ben Berman
American Factory Directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Apollo 11 Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
Ask Dr. Ruth Directed by Ryan White
The Biggest LIttle Farm Directed by John Chester
The Cave Directed by Feras Fayyad
For Sama Directed by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Knock Down the House Directed by Rachel Lears
Maiden Directed by Alex Holmes
Always in Season Directed by Jacqueline Olive
Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World Directed by Hans Pool
Dark Suns Directed by Julien Elie
Present.Perfect Directed by Shengze Zhu
The Raft Directed by Marcus Lindeen
The Unforgettables Non-Competitive Honor
Advocate Lea Tsemel
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary The Amazing Johnathan
Ask Dr. Ruth Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The Cave Dr. Amani Ballour
The Disappearance of My Mother Benedetta Barzini
For Sama Waad and Hamza al-Kataeb
Hail Satan? Lucien Greaves
Honeyland Hatidze Muratova
Knock Down the House Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Maiden Tracy Edwards
Midnight Family Juan Ochoa
Midnight Traveler Fatima Hussaini and Hassan Fazili
What You Gonna Do When the World's On Fire? Judy Hill
XY Chelsea Chelsea Manning
2020 Shorts List Films
All on a Mardi Gras Day Directed by Michal Pietrzyk
In the Absence Directed by Seung Jun-Yi
Life Overtakes Me Directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
St. Louis Superman Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Outstanding Broadcast Film
Apollo: Missions to the Moon Directed by Tom Jennings | National Geographic
At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal Directed by Erin Lee Carr | HBO
Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists Directed by John Block, Jonathan Alter and Steve McCarthy | HBO
Homecoming Directed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter | Netflix
Leaving Neverland Directed by Dan Reed | HBO
The Sentence Directed by Rudy Valdez | HBO
Outstanding Broadcast Series
The Case Against Adnan Syed Directed by Amy Berg | HBO
The Family Directed by Jesse Moss | Netflix
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle Directed by Shan Nicholson and Richard Lopez | SundanceTV
Last Chance U: Season 4 Directed by Greg Whiteley | Netflix
Salt Fat Acid Heat Directed by Caroline Suh | Netflix
Tricky Dick Directed by Mary Robertson | CNN
Outstanding Broadcast Editing
Apollo: Mission to the Moon David Tillman | National Geographic
Homecoming Alexander Hammer, Andrew Morrow, Nia Imani and Julian Klincewicz | Netflix
Leaving Neverland Jules Cornell | HBO
Tricky Dick Benji Kast, David Mehlman, Diana DiCilio and Seth Skundrick | CNN
Outstanding Broadcast Cinematography
Homecoming Mark Ritchie, Julian Klincewicz, Dikayl Rimmasch and Irie Calkins | Netflix
Into the Okavango Neil Gelinas | National Geographic
Salt Fat Acid Heat Luke McCoubrey | Netflix
Tigerland Matt Porwoll and Ross Kauffman| Discovery
Atlantics Directed by Mati Diop
Honey Boy Directed by Alma Har'el
The Infiltrators Directed by Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra
The Souvenir Directed by Joanna Hogg
Vitalina Varela Directed by Pedro Costa
Koyaanisqatsi Directed and Produced by Godfrey Reggio Cinematography Ron Fricke Editing Ron Fricke and Alton Walpole Original Score Philip Glass
British sailor Tracy Edwards has faced some major obstacles in her time, like ocean swells of stunning size.
“You've got these big following waves,” she says of the southern ocean, “these massive waves which sort of blot out the sky at some point and it feels like it's chasing you.”
Edwards faced obstacles of a different sort in 1989 when she formed the first all-female crew to compete in the dangerous Whitbread Round the World yachting race. Doubters predicted the team would fail to complete a single leg. One sailing journalist, Bob Fisher, dismissed them as a “tin full of tarts.”
“I realized very quickly that people didn't think women could do it,” she tells Deadline. “That's when I thought I'm doing this for everyone. I'm doing this for every woman everywhere.”
Sony Pictures Classics
The dramatic story of how Edwards got into the race and defied expectations on the open seas is told in the documentary Maiden, directed by Alex Holmes. The film has earned more than $3 million since its theatrical release in June and won multiple prizes including audience awards at film festivals from the Hamptons to Dublin, Ireland. This weekend it competes in three categories at the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Documentary.
Holmes drew from sunken treasure for his film, a wealth of archival material that had disappeared from view.
“The fact that this stuff existed was absolutely the most wonderful news,” Holmes recalls. “When I heard Tracy tell her story I had imagined it as a narrative feature, as a dramatic representation because I just thought how else can you tell this story? And then Tracy said, 'Well, we did have two cameras on board the whole way round.' And that's what started the search for this footage and it was a real piece of detective work, tracking down any lead of where stuff might come from.”
Maiden dials back to Edwards' youth in the U.K. After she was expelled from school at age 15 she decided to travel the world, and learned to sail while working on charter yachts in Greece. Edwards got her first—unsatisfying—taste of Whitbread competition aboard the Atlantic Privateer in the 1985-86 race.
Sony Pictures Classics
“The only way you could get on a [Whitbread] boat at that time as a woman was to be a cook and out of that entire fleet of 230 people only four of us were girls,” she remembers. “So I got to the end of the race and I thought, 'This is crazy. Why aren't more women doing this?'”
That's when she set about making history.
“I thought, 'If I put a team of guys together it'll still be awful,'” Edwards reveals. “I decided, 'If I put a team of girls together and then we prove we can do it, I can navigate, I'll find a skipper—I was never going to skipper the boat—and then instead of living in a world I don't want to live in, I'll just change the world that I'm living in and make it suit me.'”
Edwards found a suitable boat, albeit in need of repair, and dubbed it Maiden.
“I was so full of doubt and fear,” Edwards says of embarking on the 33,000-mile competition. “All I was thinking was, 'Am I the right person to do this?'”
The crew set sail from Southhampton in September 1989, surprising 'experts' by completing the first leg. But a bigger challenge loomed, on a treacherous stretch of the race through frigid waters from Uruguay to Australia. With Edwards as both skipper and navigator Maiden pulled off the unthinkable, winning that brutal leg. When the team reached harbor in Freemantle, western Australia, thousands of fans cheered them into port.
Sony Pictures Classics
“I can't describe how satisfying it was,” Edwards admits. But plenty of observers called it a fluke. “Everyone sort of said, 'Oh, they've won that leg. Oh, that's luck.' Then we had to win the next leg to sort of cement it.”
Which the Maiden crew promptly did, forcing doubters to eat crow.
“I think my favorite moment was opening Yachts and Yachting magazine and reading Bob Fisher's article,” Edwards shares. “[He wrote], 'I'm now putting salt and pepper on my hat as we speak, dear reader. They're not just a tin full of tarts. They're a tin full of smart, fast tarts.' At the time we thought, 'Yay! We've arrived!' We didn't think, 'Would he stop using that word?'”
“It wasn't just the male journalists that were chauvinistic,” Holmes notes of the press coverage. “It was so prevalent in the culture as a whole that even the women interviewers would adopt that perspective on this group of women. The raw sexism...just presented in a routine way as it was perfectly acceptable to behave in that way was a real shock to me.”
The director says, as a father of two girls, he appreciates what Edwards and her crew achieved.
“That's why it struck me as not just a beautiful story to tell and an inspiring to tell,” he notes, “but a really important story to tell now.”
For her valor, in 1990 Edwards was named an MBE—Member of the British Empire. She continues to sail today, navigating a world that's not free of retrograde attitudes.
“There are still men in existence in sailing that think it's bad luck to have a woman on a boat,” she tells Deadline. “So there's a long way to go, a long way to go.”