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CNN Films is a motion picture division of CNN, originally launched in 2012.[1] Its first film Girl Rising premiered in spring 2013 in the United States.[2][3]

CNN Films
Division of CNN
IndustryMotion picture
Film distribution
United States


On October 8, 2012, CNN announced the creation of CNN Films. CNN says that it will acquire and commission original feature-length documentaries that will "examine an array of political, social, and economic subject matters." It also signed development deals with documentary directors Alex Gibney and Andrew Rossi.[4][5] Since its creation, it already acquired the rights for Girl Rising, a 100-minute documentary narrated by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez.[6]

While the documentaries will initially air on CNN, the network reportedly plans to enter them in film festivals and distribute them to theaters as well.

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, CNN announced the acquisition of three documentaries. It acquired the rights to air Life Itself, a film adaptation of Roger Ebert's 2011 memoir, in television. The project will be directed by Steve James and executive produced by Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian. It is scheduled to air in 2014.[7] The two other untitled projects are expected to air on CNN in 2013. One, from directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperleini, centers on 9/11 and reconstructs the events at Ground Zero; the other, from director Andrew Rossi, focuses on the transformation of higher education, examining the costs and relevance of college.[8]

CNN Films bought the television rights of Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare which premiered on March 10, 2013 on CNN. The film was directed by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke. The film premiered on January 19, 2012 at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was theatrically released on October 5, 2012.[9][10]

It recently acquired Penny Lane's Our Nixon. CNN plans to premiere the film in August, while Cinedigm will release it theatrically.[11][12][13] The network has also then acquired the domestic television broadcast rights of the Sundance film selection Robert Stone's Pandora's Promise and is slated to air on CNN on November while it will be theatrically released on June 12.[14][15]


Title Release date Director(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Ref(s)
Girl Rising June 16, 2013 Richard E. Robbins Martha Adams
Richard E. Robbins
Tom Yellin
Blackfish January 19, 2013 Gabriela Cowperthwaite Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Eli B. Despres
Manny Oteyza
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare March 10, 2013 Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
Matthew Heineman
Susan Froemke
The Flag September 4, 2013 Michael Tucker
Petra Epperlein
Our Nixon August 1, 2013 Penny Lane N/A Brian L. Frye
Penny Lane
Pandora's Promise November 7, 2013 Robert Stone TBA Jim Swartz
Susan Swartz
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story December 5, 2013 Al Reinert
Sole Survivor January 9, 2014 Ky Dickens Ky Dickens Susan Aurinko
Alexis Jaworski
Amy McIntyre
41ON41 June 15, 2014 Lisa Lax
Nancy Stern Winters
Lisa Lax
Nancy Stern Winters
Documented June 29, 2014 Jose Antonio Vargas
Ann Lupo
Jose Antonio Vargas Jose Antonio Vargas
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story September 4, 2014 Mark Herzog
Sandrine Orabona
Mark Herzog
Christopher Cowen
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger September 18, 2014 Joe Berlinger Joe Berlinger
Caroline Suh
More than a Game October 24, 2014 Kristopher Belman Kristopher Belman
Brad Hogan
Kristopher Belman
Harvey Mason, Jr.
Kevin Mann
Matthew Perniciaro
Ivory Tower November 20, 2014 Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi Andrew Rossi
Kate Novack
Dinosaur 13 December 11, 2014 Todd Douglas Miller TBA Todd Douglas Miller
Life Itself January 4, 2015 Steve James TBA Garrett Basch [17]
Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me June 28, 2015 James Keach N/A James Keach
Trevor Albert
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie August 20, 2015 Seth Kramer
Daniel A. Miller
Jeremy Newberger
Daniel A. Miller Seth Kramer
Daniel A. Miller
Jeremy Newberger
Fresh Dressed September 3, 2015 Sacha Jenkins Sacha Jenkins Nasir Jones
Marcus A. Clarke
The Hunting Ground November 22, 2015 Kirby Dick Kirby Dick Amy Ziering
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine January 3, 2016 Alex Gibney Alex Gibney Alex Gibney
Sunshine Superman January 17, 2016 Marah Strauch Marah Strauch Marah Strauch
Eric Bruggemann
Holy Hell September 1, 2016 Will Allen N/A Will Allen
Tracey Harnish
Alexandra Johnes
We Will Rise October 12, 2016
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray December 3, 2016 Jenny Carchman N/A Allyson Luchak
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago January 1, 2017 Peter Pardini N/A Chicago
Unseen Enemy April 7, 2017 Janet Tobias Janet Tobias Janet Tobias
Peter Klein
Rogger Lopez
Michael Erhenzwei
Elián August 24, 2017 Ross McDonnell
Tim Golden
Tim Golden Alex Gibney
Trevor Birney
The Reagan Show September 4, 2017 Pacho Velez
Sierra Pettengill
Francisco Bello
Josh Alexander
Dan Cogan
Amy Entelis
Houston King
Regina Scully
Legion of Brothers September 24, 2017 Greg Barker N/A Amy Entelis
Vinnie Malhotra
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent November 12, 2017 Lydia Tenaglia N/A Susan Porretta
Trophy January 14, 2018 Shaul Schwarz
Christina Clusiau
N/A Lauren Haber
Julia Nottingham
Three Identical Strangers June 29, 2018 Tim Wardle Becky Read
Grace Hughes-Hallett
American Jail July 1, 2018 Roger Ross Williams Roger Ross Williams Roger Ross Williams
Femke Wolting
Bruno Felix
RBG September 3, 2018 Betsy West
Julie Cohen
Betsy West
Julie Cohen
Love, Gilda September 21, 2018 Lisa Dapolito Bronwyn Berry
Lisa Dapolito
James Tumminia
Apollo 11 March 1, 2019 Todd Douglas Miller N/A Todd Douglas Miller
Thomas Petersen
Evan Krauss


  1. ^ "CNN To Start Documentary Film Unit". The Huffington Post. October 8, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Benzine, Adam (October 8, 2012). "CNN launches feature docs division with "Girl Rising"". Real Screen. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  3. ^ "CNN Announces Creation Of CNN Films". Foxtel. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  4. ^ Lieberman, David (October 8, 2012). "CNN Creates Unit To Acquire Documentary Films For Theaters And TV". Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  5. ^ Flint, Joe (October 8, 2012). "CNN's creation of film unit is step in right direction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Raftery, Liz (October 8, 2012). "Girl Rising to Help Launch CNN Films". TV Guide. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  7. ^ Patten, Dominic (January 18, 2013). "Sundance: CNN Films Makes Buying Debut; Announces Trio Of Documentaries". Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  8. ^ Miller, Daniel (January 18, 2013). "Sundance 2013: CNN Films Announces Three Documentaries". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (March 1, 2013). "CNN Films Acquires 'Escape Fire' U.S. TV Rights; Healthcare Doc To Air In March". Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "CNN Films: 'Escape Fire' Debuts on CNN on March 10 at 8pm ET". CNN. March 1, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Guthrie, Marisa (April 24, 2013). "CNN Films Snaps Up Richard Nixon Documentary (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  12. ^ Fleischer, Matthew (April 24, 2013). "CNN Films acquires SXSW doc 'Our Nixon' to air on the network in August". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  13. ^ "CNN Films and Cinedigm Acquire 'Our Nixon'". CNN. April 24, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Fleischer, Matthew (April 30, 2013). "CNN continues acquisition spree with 'Pandora's Promise'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "CNN Films Announces Acquisition of 'Pandora's Promise' for Fall 2013 Broadcast". CNN. April 30, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  16. ^ Kaufman, Amy (January 25, 2013). "'Blackfish' has SeaWorld in hot water". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Koziarki, Ed M. (February 5, 2013). "James starts doc production on Roger Ebert's memoir". Reel Chicago. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  18. ^ "Sacha Jenkins Talks Art, Culture and 'The Burning of Kingston'". The Boom Box. July 8, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.

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