Sundance: HBO Nabs ISIS-Themed Documentary 'Jim'

James Foley - H 2016
AP Photo/Steven Senne

The film will make its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition of the upcoming festival.

In the first notable Sundance sale, HBO Documentary Films has acquired U.S. TV rights to Brian Oakes’ documentary Jim: The James Foley Story, which chronicles the life, death and legacy of journalist James Foley, who was murdered by ISIS in 2014.

The film, which was expected to be one of the hottest acquisition titles among documentaries, will make its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition of the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, which is set to run Jan. 21-31. Jim is slated to debut Feb. 6 on HBO.

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, American photojournalist James “Jim” Foley was kidnapped in Syria and went missing for two years before the infamous video of his public execution sent shockwaves and introduced much of the world to ISIS. Oakes, a close childhood friend of Foley’s, tells the story of his life through intimate interviews with his family, friends and fellow journalists, while fellow hostages reveal never-before-heard details of his captivity. Made with unparalleled access, Jim is a harrowing chronicle of bravery, compassion and pain at the dawn of America’s war with ISIS.

“James Foley is America’s son,” said HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins. “If this story doesn’t move you, nothing can.”

Added Oakes: “I made this film to carry on the stories that Jim needed us to know. It’s important that we understand the significant role of today’s conflict journalists and why they risk their lives to tell the world how bad it can be.”

The doc will include the original song “The Empty Chair” by J. Ralph and Sting.

“This film is the work of a talented team of young filmmakers,” said executive producer Peter Kunhardt. “I am very proud of it, and pleased that HBO is once again our partner.”

Jim was produced by Eva Lipman, George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt and executive produced by Peter Kunhardt.

The deal was negotiated with HBO by Cinetic Media on behalf of Kunhardt Films, which produced the pic. The sale marks the tenth collaboration between HBO and Kunhardt Films, following such documentaries as Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words, Teddy: In His Own Words and Gloria: In Her Own Words.