Both feature docs are in the running for an Oscar nomination and will become available to stream today at 10 a.m. PT on the ViacomCBS service formerly known as CBS All Access. The service is the streaming home for other MTV projects, including the Emmy-award winning doc “76 Days,” about Wuhan, China, on lockdown just after the COVID-19 pandemic first hit.
Sheila Nevins, a documentary powerhouse that now heads MTV Documentary Films, executive produced “Sabaya” and “Ascension.” She acquired “Sabaya” after the doc’s Sundance Film Festival premiere in January and “Ascension” following the film’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere in June.
Hirori’s “Sabaya,” which won the Sundance directing award in the World Cinema Documentary category, is about the sexual exploitation of women in the Kurdish religious minority group of Yazidi. Meanwhile, Kingdon’s “Ascension” is an observational portrait of the economic growth of China, as well as the class divides that this expansion has exposed. The film garnered the best documentary and best new documentary filmmaker trophies at Tribeca.
Both docus are making their streaming debut on Paramount Plus just weeks before the AMPAS documentary branch begins voting to determine the 2022 Oscar documentary shortlist.
In addition to these films, four MTV documentary shorts and one MTV animated short — all executive produced by Sheila Nevins — will debut on Paramount Plus on Nov. 22.
The four short documentaries are: Kate Davis and David Heilbroner’s “R.I.P. T-Shirts,” about gun violence and the effect it has on young teenagers, in a story told through the eyes of a T-shirt shop owner just outside Washington, D.C.; Dawn Porter’s “Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance,” about how the art world responded to the death of Breonna Taylor; Christine Turner’s “Lynching Postcards: ‘Token of a Great Day” about the horrific history of lynchings as cultural events and celebrations that included souvenirs and postcards; and Ryan White’s “Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker,” which explores the work of artist J.C. Leyendecker, whose coded imagery laid the foundation for LGBTQ representation in advertising today. Reza Riahi’s animated short, “The Musician,” is about a young musician and the love of his life who are separated from each other during the attack of the Mongols.
All five short films have qualified for Academy Award consideration.
“MTV Documentary Films further opens up the competitive documentary gate with seven noteworthy projects spanning features, shorts and animation that will have even greater visibility via Paramount Plus,” said Nevins. “Each of these titles has been carefully curated or originally produced and they all represent the upcoming excellence of our underdog documentary division.”
MTV’s documentary division is competing against established heavyweight distributors such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV Plus, Disney-owned National Geographic and Hulu, Showtime, HBO and Discovery Plus. Besides “76 Days,” the Paramount Plus slate of available original docuseries and documentaries includes the eight-part investigative docuseries “For Heaven’s Sake” and “Console Wars,” about Sega and Nintendo’s fight for gaming dominance in the ’90s.”
“Paramount Plus features an extensive variety of documentaries and docuseries, and we are thrilled to have such a highly prestigious and curated slate from Shelia Nevins, Nina L. Diaz and Liza Burnett Fefferman of MTV Documentary Films,” said Tanya Giles, chief programming officer, ViacomCBS Streaming. “The addition of these award-winning features and shorts on the service further expands our offering of incredible documentary storytelling and we look forward to introducing our subscribers to these fantastic films.”