Amy Entelis of CNN Films, Courtney Sexton on Oscar nominee Julia – deadline

Julia Child understood the sauce the way Leonard Bernstein knew the way to sympathy, the way Patrick Mahomes knew the way through defense. That is, with impudence.

The subject of the documentary is a well-known author of a cookbook and a pioneer on television Juliadirected by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, who is vying for an Oscar nomination.

“Julie and I grew up in a time of frozen food, amazing jelly salads, casserole with mushroom soup, and Julia changed all that,” says West Deadline. “Julia is why culinary shows are so incredibly popular, why Americans are much more adventurous in what food they eat. Julia introduced us to French food, but it just rose from there, and America was completely different after Julia.

Amy Entelis of CNN Films

Amy Entelis, EVP, Talent & Content Development, CNN Worldwide

The documentary marks the second collaboration between directors and CNN Films, an information network division overseen by Amy Entelis, vice president of talent and content development at CNN Worldwide, and Courtney Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films. The quartet first worked together on a mass hit RBG, a 2018 documentary about the late Supreme Court judge who won an Emmy Award and was nominated for an Oscar. The upcoming third collaboration between Cohen, West and CNN Films has just been announced – Gabi Giffords will not back down – about a former US representative from Arizona, who was nearly killed in an assassination attempt in 2011.

“They did a great job of taking on strong female characters,” Sexton said of the film’s creators, adding that Julia, “They also had a really interesting idea of ​​how to attack the food aspect and make it feel uplifted and cinematic. And when they proposed this idea of ​​macro-food cinema along with this compelling story, we were immediately fascinated. ”

Julia Child on the set of her TV show

Julia Child in the filming of her series, August 21, 1978
Photo by AP

Based on their experience, Sexton and Entelis gained an understanding of what viewers are looking for in a documentary from CNN Films.

“Our audience responds to people’s life stories when they’re told as well as Betsy and Julie can do it,” Entelis notes, “and when they think they know something about the subject, but in fact we look at them much more deeply and can really reveal things that don’t necessarily exist in the world ”.

Juliafor example, delves into Child’s experience during World War II at the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor, and her privileged upbringing. Working with the estate, the filmmakers gained access to the home movies of Child (ma’am McWilliams), who grows up in Pasadena, California.

“It’s about showing audiences what they don’t have access to,” Entelis says. “These were really great shots that really emphasize that concept [Child] to be a pioneer … Her family wanted to marry her to the son of the Chandler family, in LA Times family. And you think, “My God, it’s like she ran out of there, she really did something against the grain.” And not only did she do something against the grain, she climbed to the highest heights of the field she chose. ”

CNN Films logo

CNN movies

Prior to the launch of CNN Films in 2012, virtually every minute of CNN programming was produced at home. The unit led by Entelis and Sexton is different because it works with filmmakers and production organizations offline. Julia was developed in collaboration with the documentary division of Imagine, an entertainment company founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

“The audience doesn’t necessarily realize it’s coming from somewhere else, and so we can’t be too far away without a lot of explanation,” Entelis says. “So we want to be as comfortable as possible with CNN, but we also want to be different because that’s really been our mandate. Our mandate was to go out and make great content that comes from elsewhere and opens up different worlds to our audience. ”

Documentaries from CNN Films, however, are not exempt from CNN’s strict procedures, which also apply to all news. A department called “Standards and Practice” studies the content of non-fiction films such as Julia.

Courtney Sexton of CNN Films

Courtney Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films

“It’s a whole extra layer that we need to focus on,” Sexton admits. “But in the end, they also protect us, and I feel grateful for that, although sometimes we have some problems because we are an information network … They have grown significantly with us when we clarified how to work in a news environment. We are outsiders. “

CNN Films could be back for the Oscars next year Bulk, a documentary about the leader of the Russian opposition and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, who was a late addition to the Sundance Film Festival. On Friday, Daniel Roer’s film won both the US Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award, chosen from all of Sundance’s feature, feature and non-fiction films.

“When the filmmakers came to us, they only provided access to Navalny, and there was no platform or staff. It was just, “Hey, we have this access, wouldn’t you like to ride with us?” , – explains Sexton. «[CNN correspondent] Clarissa Ward has already made most of the best reports on the subject. So that we could expand this story more deeply … it was like a natural extension of the amazing work that Clarissa has already done. ”

Entelis and Sexton are also busy developing and acquiring content for CNN Plus, the network’s streaming service, which is expected to appear around March.

“We have a film that we just announced [CNN Plus] called The latest movie starsdirected by Ethan Hawke, the story of the life, career, marriage and philanthropy of Paul Newman and Joan Woodward, ”says Entelis. “For us, this is a very, very unique project. It’s a multi-chapter film, so it’s a very broad project. It will be launched on a streaming service that will also feature original CNN films that have not been broadcast online. ”

Poster detail

CNN movies

In the meantime, there is the issue of Oscar nomination. Julia is one of 15 films still vying for Best Documentary. The nomination will be “the icing on the cake,” Sexton says. “In any case, we are happy.”

Adds Entelis, «It would be a dream and it would be great and the time we spent on it last time [with RBG]I mean, pinch me, it was an incredible experience to become like the last episode of the saga about making this film come out and see the incredible reaction to it … Juliaworking with Betsy and Julie and Imagine is just a wonderful experience and we do it for the joy of conveying such a story to the audience. But if he gets to that other place where we’re fighting, I’m there, I’m all in. ”

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