Tue. Oct 15th, 2019

Oscar-nominated ‘RBG’ duo Betsy West and Julie Cohen to take on Julia Child with Imagine Documentaries and CNN Films

(l-r) Julia Child (Photo by Sipa/Shutterstock (480199b);
Julie Cohen, Betsy West, Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton pose in the pressroom with the Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking for ‘RBG’ during the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, USA, 14 September 2019. (Photo by NINA PROMMER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/10414206bi)

Imagine Documentaries and CNN Films have partnered with Academy Award®– nominated and Emmy® Award-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen to produce a feature-length documentary on the remarkable life of chef Julia Child.  Cohen and West are set to direct and produce the film alongside Imagine Documentaries’ Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein.  Imagine Entertainment chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and Imagine co-chairman Michael Rosenberg, are executive producing along with Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide; Courtney Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films, and Oren Jacoby of Storyville Films.

The documentary feature, ‘JULIA’ (working title), will tell the story of the groundbreaking cookbook author and television superstar who forever changed the way Americans think about food, about television, and even about women.  Using a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival video, personal still photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the documentary will trace Julia Child’s surprising path, from her struggles to create and publish the revolutionary ‘instant’ classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), to her empowering personal story of a woman in her 50s, finding her calling as an unlikely television sensation.

“We couldn’t be more honored to be working with two of the most exciting filmmakers in the doc business, along with Amy and Courtney at CNN Films, in telling the story of such a beloved icon,” said Imagine Documentaries’ president and the film’s producer, Justin Wilkes.  “Julia’s palette looms large in today’s culinary landscape, yet few know the full story behind the gastronomic legend.”

“Betsy, Julie, and Imagine Documentaries are perfect partners for an exploration of the consequential life of Julia Child,” said Amy Entelis, on behalf of CNN Films.  “Even people familiar with her story will be surprised at her multidimensional contributions to American culture and culinary history; the film will also reveal her lesser-known, quiet heroism during some of the world’s most tumultuous times.”

This is the first feature-length documentary solely devoted to Julia Child, and will illuminate her casual upheaval of the male-dominated culinary and television worlds.  Almost single-handedly, Julia Child upended the mythology that women could not hold their own at the highest levels of creative gastronomy, and that the only women Americans wanted to see on TV were young, submissive, and conventionally beautiful.

“Nothing gets us more pumped than telling stories of women who accomplished things people said they could never do,” said Cohen.  “Julia’s story has inspiration, romance, and plenty of spice.”

“Julia was first,” added West.  “Without her, there would have been no Emeril Lagasse or Rachael Ray or countless other celebrity chefs.  We are thrilled to partner with Imagine Documentaries, and to collaborate again with CNN Films to bring the story of this bold and singular woman to the big screen in all its delicious glory.”

‘JULIA’ (w.t.) is being produced with the full cooperation of Julia Child’s friends, family,  and the Julia Child Foundation.  It follows the highly-acclaimed documentary, ‘RBG,’ executive produced by CNN Films, directed and produced by West and Cohen through their company Storyville Films, and edited by Carla Gutierrez, who will also edit ‘JULIA’ (w.t.).  ‘RBG,’ which explores the life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, earned a Primetime Emmy® Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, as well as a Television Academy Honors award, and numerous nominations in film achievement including Academy Award®-, BAFTA-, PGA-, and DGA-nominations for 2019.

In addition to ‘RBG,’ CNN Films also recently executive produced the Todd Douglas Miller-directed and produced ‘APOLLO 11,’ an immersive, all-archival documentary exploring the thrilling days of the historic NASA mission that resulted in humanity’s first steps on the moon and safe return home.  ‘SCANDALOUS,’ about the history and cultural influence of the National Enquirer newspaper, is directed by Mark Landsman and will open in theaters Nov. 15, following its world premiere at the 2019 Hamptons International Film Festival.  The Rob Epstein-, Jeffrey Friedman-directed ‘LINDA RONSTADT: The Sound of My Voice’ about the life and musical journey of the legendary singer, also executive produced by CNN Films, is currently in theaters. 

During the last year, Imagine Documentaries has amassed a growing slate of productions that also includes the Bryce Dallas Howard documentary ‘DADS,’ about modern fatherhood around the globe; the Ron Howard-directed documentary ‘Rebuilding Paradise,’ about the resilience of a California town devastated by wildfires and co-produced by National Geographic Documentary Films, a documentary about 13-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade; and the Daniel Roher ‘Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band’ which premiered as the 2019 opening night gala film at Toronto International Film Festival.  The division recently teamed up with Apple to produce a slate of feature documentaries and docuseries, under an exclusive, first-look deal.

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