CNN Acquires Film by Jose Antonio Vargas

By Chris Ariens 

CNN Films has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to “Documented,” a feature-length film about undocumented immigrant and former Washington Post and Huffington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. The film will premiere on CNN/U.S. next spring, following its debut at the IDFA film festival which begins tomorrow in Amsterdam. “The film is in honor of 11 million undocumented immigrants – many of us Americans in all but paper,” says Vargas who wrote and directed the film. “It is a privilege to be associated with CNN Films in bringing ‘Documented’ to television.”

“Documented” chronicles Vargas’s journey to America from the Philippines as a child and his journey through America as an immigration reform activist.

Executive producers of “Documented” include technology entrepreneur Sean Parker, publicist/consultant Matthew Hiltzik and Scott Budnick, one of the executive producers of “The Hangover” films.

More after the jump…

CNN FILMS Acquires ‘DOCUMENTED’ in Advance of International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

CNN/U.S. plans for second quarter 2014 broadcast

In advance of the 2013 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA), CNN Films has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to DOCUMENTED, a feature-length film that explores the life – and journey out of the shadows – led by undocumented immigrant and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, it was announced today. DOCUMENTED will premiere on CNN/U.S. in the second quarter of 2014 as a CNN Films broadcast, following its international bow at the IDFA and its theatrical distribution in the United States. DOCUMENTED is written and directed by Vargas, with technology entrepreneur Sean Parker, Matthew Hiltzik (“Paper Clips”), Scott Budnick (“The Hangover” series), and philanthropist Liz Simons as executive producers.

“Immigration, to me, is not a political issue, it’s not a Latino or Asian issue – it’s an American story,” said writer-director Jose Antonio Vargas. “The film is in honor of 11 million undocumented immigrants – many of us Americans in all but papers. And, the film is dedicated to parents everywhere who dream of better futures for their children. It is a privilege to be associated with CNN Films in bringing DOCUMENTED to television,” Vargas said.

Filmmaker Vargas began working on the documentary shortly before “outing” himself as undocumented in a ground-breaking New York Times Magazine essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” Vargas then traveled around America, telling his story in solidarity with the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. As he connected with his subjects through the similarities of their journeys, particularly those who, like Vargas, came to the United States as children, his personal reflections compelled him to reconnect with his mother, whom he had not seen in 20 years.

In 2008, Vargas was awarded a Pulitzer as part of the team of Washington Post journalists who reported on the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University. His own immigrant journey began at age 12 when he was sent to the United States from the Philippines by his mother to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, Calif. After attending San Francisco State University, he pursued a print journalism career – landing jobs at newspapers in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, DC for the Post – all the while, managing to keep his true citizenship status a secret.

“We have followed Jose’s story closely since 2011 and are very pleased we will be able to offer U.S. viewers a window into the experiences of recent immigrants through his story. Jose also reports this story from a journalist’s point of view – which makes it a great fit for distribution on our network,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.