March 14, 2014 6:00am PT by Scott Feinberg
Immigration Doc 'Documented' Will Get Theatrical Release Prior to CNN Airing (Exclusive Video)
Jose Antonio Vargas' Documented will be released in select New York and Los Angeles theaters prior to its television broadcast on CNN, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. The move will qualify the film for Oscar consideration.
The documentary -- which was written, produced and directed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist -- centers on Vargas' experience as an undocumented immigrant and a crusader for immigration reform. It will be released theatrically and digitally by his nonprofit Define American media and culture campaign, along with BOND/360, in New York at the Village East Cinema on May 2 and in Los Angeles at the Landmark Regent on May 9. It will then air on CNN in the summer.
THR is also exclusively debuting the film's official trailer. (See above.)
Much of Documented -- the executive producers of which include Napster co-founder Sean Parker, The Hangover's Scott Budnick and The Joy Luck Club's Janet Yang -- covers Vargas' roller coaster of a journey after he publicly revealed his immigration status in a New York Times Magazine piece in June 2011, including his efforts to reunite with his mother, whom he had not seen in over 20 years.
CNN Films acquired the North American rights to Documented back in November. CNN has invested heavily in its CNN Films division of late. Last fall, it enjoyed a huge ratings success with Blackfish, another Oscar-contending doc that it broadcast. It has also aired the docs Our Nixon and Sole Survivor and handled both the theatrical and television release of Pandora's Promise. A planned CNN Films doc about Hillary Clinton was canceled in September following an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans.
Vargas told THR, "As a newcomer to America who learned to 'speak American' by watching movies, I firmly believe that to change the politics of immigration and citizenship, we must change culture -- the way we portray undocumented people like me and our role in society. I am thrilled to be working with CNN, Tugg and BOND/360 to share my story on screens around the country and remind people that when we talk about immigration, we are talking about real people and their families."