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The landmark documentary series Eyes on the Prize is getting a new home.
As of Monday, the first part of the series on the civil rights movement is available to stream on HBO Max. The WarnerMedia outlet will also air a new special, Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground, in August from Anonymous Content’s AC Studios and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison (A Love Song for Latasha). The special counts Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors among its executive producers.
Additionally, HBO Max is in production on a new documentary series that will reflect on the legacy of the movement covered in Henry Hampton’s documentary and tie it to the present day.
“We are very proud to be partnering with this dynamic team of activists and storytellers to bring this important work to our viewers,” said Casey Bloys, chief content officer for HBO and HBO Max. “Across HBO and HBO Max, we are committed to providing a platform for authentic voices representing diverse, essential stories. We are honored to collaborate with our incredibly talented producing team to bring the legacy of Henry Hampton’s groundbreaking work to a new generation.”
Eyes on the Prize debuted in 1987 on PBS (where it’s also still available to stream) and won universal praise from critics. The documentary, which spanned two seasons and some 30 years of the civil rights movement — the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s — won several Emmys as well as Peabody and DuPont awards. HBO Max currently has rights just to the six episodes of part one, which covers the years 1954-65.
Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground will honor the original series as it “conjures ancestral memories, activates the radical imagination and explores the profound journey for Black liberation through the voices of the movement,” per its logline. The special is slated to debut on Aug. 19 on HBO Max.
“I’ve watched the original Eyes on the Prize a thousand times. And every single time I’ve watched it I’ve been moved to tears and moved to action,” said Cullors, who has an overall deal with HBO’s corporate sibling Warner Bros. TV. “My organizing work and artistic practice was shaped by the hours of documentation I witnessed through Eyes. I am over the moon that I get to be a part of history by teaming up with Blackside, my producing partner, Mervyn Marcano, and the brilliant teams at Anonymous and WarnerMedia as we work to integrate the story of modern-day civil rights leaders for the new Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground.”
Added fellow exec producer Mervyn Marcano, “I’m thrilled to be continuing the enduring legacy of Eyes on the Prize, which told a fuller and more complex story of the long fight for racial justice in our country. It’s why Hallowed Ground, helmed by our visionary director Sophia Nahli Allison, serves as the perfect start to a new chapter for Eyes — it is an emotional reflection on our journey through turbulent times and the truths we need to tell each other to forge new futures. There are indeed so many stories left to tell about who we are as a nation and where we are going, and we are lucky to have Eyes on the Prize continue to light the way.”
Judi Hampton, Henry Hampton’s sister and president and CEO of Eyes on the Prize producer Blackside, is also an executive producer of Hallowed Ground, along with Cullors, Marcano, De La Revolución Films’ Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Anonymous Content’s Joy Gorman Wettels, and Bedonna Smith, Blackside’s Sandra Forman, and Allison.
“I remember watching the pilot of Eyes on the Prize with Henry when it was first created, and I immediately knew this film would be a life-changer for all who saw it,” said Hampton. “A special thank you to Joy Gorman and Anonymous Content for reaching out to me years ago with passion for the original series and a dream to help bring Eyes to a new generation. We are grateful for the stellar team of artists and activists who’ve come together to reimagine Eyes on the Prize in a way that will move and inspire a whole new audience.”
Said Wettels, “As a teenager watching Eyes on the Prize, I was shocked, ashamed and moved by what Blackside brought to light that wasn’t being taught in school. Witnessing truth on film can move people of all ages to action, which is why we banded together to bring Eyes back in a new way. We are all grateful that Judi entrusted this team of brilliant Black creatives who are shaping the culture like Sophia, Melina, Patrisse and Mervyn, and also thank Sarah Aubrey, Christy Haubegger and the entire WarnerMedia team for providing the perfect home for us.”
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