Documentaries

4 Controversial Documentary Series Premiering in 2017

Spike, Amazon and PBS are all rolling out gems.

Photo Credit: Spike / YouTube

1. American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story

The 13-episode “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story” will debut on Amazon Prime Video in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Japan in 2017. The film combines 17,000-plus hours of archival footage, Hefner’s collection of more than 2,600 scrapbooks and “never-before-told” stories from first-person interviews.

In addition to being the founder of the Playboy empire, Hefner was a lifelong champion of civil rights. 

“I felt from a very early age that there were things in society that were wrong, and that I might play some small part in changing them,” Hefner said. He turned 90 this year. 

2. Time: The Kalief Browder Story

"Time: The Kalief Browder Story" chronicles the tragic life of a young man who spent three years in Rikers Island Correctional Center, despite never being convicted. The six-part documentary airs on Spike beginning March 1 at 10pm  EST and was produced by Jay Z and Harvey Weinstein.

"We're the voice,"Jay-Z said about the series in a press conference in October. "We're society. We effect change. We can change everything.... Our voices are stronger than ever. If everyone in this room is like, 'I don't agree with this happening to a 16-year-old,' then it won't happen again. It's that simple."

3. The Vietnam War

Legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns retells the story of the Vietnam War in a 360-degree narrative accompanied by testimonials of nearly 100 witnesses.

"There was no way we could avoid telling this story. Wars are so extraordinarily revealing. Obviously the worst of humanity, but as it turns out, the best of humanity," Burns said. "This film is not an answer, but a set of questions about what happened," he added. 

"The Vietnam War" airs in September 2017.

4. The Fate We Make

"The Fate We Make" began when director John Filson joined the Filmmaker Fellowship program at Docs in Progress in Silver Spring, Maryland. The six-part series follows an Iraqi refugee family during their first year of resettlement in America.

"I first met this family in 2007 when I was working in northern Iraq as a relief worker for Mennonite Central Committee," Filson said in a director's statement. "And when I learned a few years later that they would be resettled to Silver Spring, Maryland, not far from where I live, I was thrilled."

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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