MTV’s New Documentary Division Under Sheila Nevins Sets Its 1st Two Releases
This image released by MTV Documentary Films shows Bruce Franks Jr. in a scene from the documentary “St. Louis Superman,” one of two films that will be released by MTV’s new documentary division. (MTV via AP)
  • NEW YORK (AP)
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Films about living in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and a St. Louis-area activist turned politician will be the first released by MTV’s new documentary division.

MTV announced earlier this year that it had hired Sheila Nevins, who for many years was among the most influential people in the documentary business as gatekeeper for such projects at HBO. Her new employer has charged her to build a documentary unit for the youth-oriented network.

“17 Blocks” tells the story of an African American family in Washington. “St. Louis Superman” is about Bruce Franks Jr., who was involved in protests against law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, and then was elected to the Missouri legislature.

Both films will have short theater runs before appearing on MTV this fall.

Each film can also be seen next month at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival. Executive produced by Nevins and produced and financed by Big Beach’s Alex Turtletaub, Michael B. Clark and Marc Turtletaub alongside Rachel Deniz and the film’s director Davy Rothbart, “17 Blocks” won Best Documentary Film Editing at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Audience Award and Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, Best North American Documentary Feature at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival and an Excellence in American Profiles Award at the San Francisco Documentary Festival.

“St. Louis Superman” is produced by its directors Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan as well as Poh Si Teng and executive produced by Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker. The film won the jury prize for Best Documentary Short at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs and the Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival.

“At the heart of American Democracy, there is an injustice that gnaws at the soul of the have-nots and Davy Rothbart’s ‘17 Blocks’ and Smitri Mundhra and Sami Khan’s ‘St. Louis Superman’ are two films that expose both the injustices and courage of Americans who survive against almost insurmountable odds,” said Nevins. “MTV Documentary Films foray begins with these two impactful films.”

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