EXCLUSIVE: MTV Documentary Films’ impressive slate of short films will debut on the Paramount+ streaming platform on Tuesday, a lineup that includes The ABCs of Book Banning, the directorial debut of documentary legend Sheila Nevins.
Nevins executive produces all five of the films joining Paramount+. In addition to her own film, co-directed by Trish Adlesic and Nazenet Habtezghi, the slate boasts Alive in Bronze: Huey P. Newton, about the artistic collaboration between sculptor Dana King and Fredrika Newton, widow of the Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton. The film chronicles their creation of a bust honoring Newton, for a monument in Oakland, Calif. where the Black Panther Party emerged.
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The five shorts join a pair of award-winning features from MTV Documentary Films that premiered in recent days on Paramount+: Maite Alberdi’s Sundance winner The Eternal Memory and Pay or Die, directed by Rachael Dyer and Scott Alexander Ruderman, which premiered at SXSW. A Song Film By Kishi Bashi: OMOIYARI, a feature documentary about the Japanese-American musician Kishi Bashi, also premieres on Paramount+ on Nov. 21.
“As we kick off year four of MTV Documentary Films, we’re elated to share our current slate of shorts from an astonishing group of filmmakers whose authentic and untold stories are already resonating with critics and festival goers around the globe,” Nina L. Diaz and Liza Burnett Fefferman, co-heads of MTV Documentary Films, said in a statement. “Sublime and beautifully directed, we feel privileged to bring them out for all the world to see on Paramount+.”
These are the five shorts from MTV Documentary Films premiering on Paramount+ November 21:
The ABCs of Book Banning – Over 2,000 books have been removed from school districts in the U.S. The ABCs of Book Banning follows the human toll the future will pay for depriving children of their right to read and learn about a complex world. Interviews with children and authors shed light on this ongoing dangerous precedent.
Directed by: Sheila Nevins
Alive in Bronze: Huey P. Newton – Sculptor Dana King and wife of Huey P. Newton, Fredrika Newton’s memories come together to build a monument: a bust of Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton, for the Oakland community. From conception to unveiling, these women set off on a journey to reclaim erased history.
Directed by: A.K. Sandhu
Birthing a Nation: The Resistance of Mary Gaffney – Birthing a Nation explores the story of forced reproduction in the antebellum South and reveals the agency of Mary Gaffney – an enslaved woman who took control of her body and fertility. Her 1930s interview and voices from Black women scholars underscore the significance of this historic context.
Directed by: Nazenet Habtezghi
The Last Song from Kabul – The music stopped when the Taliban took over Afghanistan – it was forbidden, the penalty was death. Young girls who belonged to a music school went into hiding – fearing for themselves and their families – eventually escaping to Portugal where they tried to rebuild their lives and play music again.
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
A Tattoo on My Brain – Neurologist Dan Gibbs is an expert in Alzheimer’s who finds through self-examination that he himself has the disease. He then begins a journey to try to slow his loss of memory, while savoring the experience of being alive.
Directed by: David Heilbroner, Kate Davis
MTV Documentary Films, launched four years ago, “has worked with high-profile filmmakers on timely stories that have already garnered three Oscar-nominations, seven Oscar shortlists, a Peabody Award, two Emmy-nominations and an Emmy win,” a release notes. “The company most recently acquired the deeply moving and profound love story The Eternal Memory [directed by Maite Alberdi] after it premiered to rave reviews at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.”
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