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MTV Documentary Films Launches With ’17 Blocks,’ ‘St. Louis Superman’

Sheila Nevins has set her first projects in her new capacity as head of MTV Documentary Films: the feature “17 Blocks” and short “St. Louis Superman.”

Both titles will have awards qualifying runs in the fall before airing on MTV’s various platforms.

“17 Blocks,” from filmmaker Davy Rothbart, chronicles 20 years in the life of an African-American family living in the shadow of the White House in Washington, D.C. “Superman,” from filmmakers Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, revolves around the rapper-activist Bruce Franks Jr., who emerged from the protests in Ferguson, Mo. to win election to Missouri House of Representatives.

“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 Smriti 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. HBO’s longtime head of documentary series joined MTV in May to spearhead a docu-content push.

“17 Blocks” made a splash earlier this year at Tribeca and has been making the docu festival rounds since then. “Superman” earned kudos at AFI Docs and other festivals. Both “17 Blocks” and “St. Louis Superman” will be featured next month at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival.

“17 Blocks” was exec produced by Nevins and produced and financed by Big Beach’s Alex Turtletaub, Michael B. Clark and Marc Turtletaub with Rachel Deniz and Rothbart. “Superman” was produced by Mundhra, Khan and Poh Si Teng, with Nevins and Fiona Lawson-Baker as exec producers.

“The brave Sanford Family, our filmmaking team and I are enormously honored to be working with Sheila and MTV to share ’17 Blocks’ with the world,” said Rothbart, a journalist and contributor to “This American Life.” “It’s been a 20-year journey to make this film, and now, as audiences get to know the Sanfords, a new journey is just beginning.”

Sales were negotiated by Bahareh Kamali and Mandana O’Connor on behalf of MTV Documentary Films, Submarine Entertainment on behalf of “17 Blocks” and AJE Witness on behalf of “St. Louis Superman.”

(Pictured: “St. Louis Superman”)

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