Al Jazeera America’s Documentary Ambitions…

Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes about Al Jazeera America’s plans for documentaries…

Al Jazeera America is setting up a slate of ambitious documentaries in an effort to raise its profile among news aficionados while stoking demand for the fledgling cable-news outlet.

Many of the projects will contain multiple episodes and come from big names on the documentary scene, including Alex Gibney and Joe Berlinger. The network has run documentaries in recent months, but the new ones, “Borderland,” represent the first Al Jazeera America has directly commissioned, explained Shannon High, the network’s senior veep of documentaries and programs, and there are hopes the quality and scope of the series will spark more interest in the Qatar-backed news cabler.

“Borderland,” is a four-part series that will show six Americans given the task of retracing the footsteps of three deceased migrants attempting to cross to the United States from Mexico. In the process, the network will draw attention to the plight of 5,500 individuals who have perished in the desert over the last 15 years while trying to make a similar journey.

Related: The Wrap’s Lucas Shaw has more on the Joe Berlinger aspect of today’s news…

The director of “Paradise Lost” and a Whitey Bulger documentary will revisit the subject of U.S. law and order

Award-wining filmmaker Joe Berlinger will direct and executive produce “The System,” an eight-part series on the criminal justice system, for Al-Jazeera America, TheWrap has learned.

The series, produced by Radical Media, will examine subjects such as false confessions, mandatory sentencing and the treatment of juvenile offenders.

Documentaries about criminal justice (and injustice) are a specialty of Berlinger’s, best known for directing “Paradise Lost,” a film trilogy about the West Memphis Three. Those films documented the trials of a trio of teenagers convicted of murder. New evidence secured their freedom more than 18 years after they entered prison.

And then there’s this…somewhat awkward…factoid…

Berlinger’s latest film, about infamous mobster Whitey Bulger, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will air on CNN in the Spring.

So if CNN scores in broadcasting the Bulger doc how does AJA play off it? On the other side of that coin, how does CNN explain losing out on Berlinger’s services, at least temporarily, to upstart AJA?

5 Responses to “Al Jazeera America’s Documentary Ambitions…”

  1. So…when you see one off these ask yourself, does it make you feel better or worse about our country, and then work on your essay, “Why would another country create an unprofitable cable news network in our midst?”

  2. Al Jazeera America airs a lot of documentaries but, unlike CNN and MSNBC, they’re actually relevant to current events.

  3. Is always heartwarming to see documentaries put out by religious fascist run company/country on all the vagaries of a democracy. Which will be glommed onto by all their Leftist liberal supporters and other liberal fascists.

  4. […] Al Jazeera America following CNN, doing the documentary thing. [Inside Cable News] […]

  5. […] Al Jazeera America following CNN, doing the documentary thing. [Inside Cable News] […]

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