Updated: May 12, 2022
Brian Steinberg, Variety, 18 February, 2014
Al Jazeera America is setting up a slate of ambitious documentaries in an effort to raise its profile among news aficionados while stoking demand for the fledgling cable-news outlet.
Many of the projects will contain multiple episodes and come from big names on the documentary scene, including Alex Gibney and Joe Berlinger. The network has run documentaries in recent months, but the new ones, “Borderland,” represent the first Al Jazeera America has directly commissioned, explained Shannon High, the network’s senior veep of documentaries and programs, and there are hopes the quality and scope of the series will spark more interest in the Qatar-backed news cabler. Borderland is a four-part series that will show six Americans given the task of retracing the footsteps of three deceased migrants attempting to cross to the United States from Mexico. In the process, the network will draw attention to the plight of 5,500 individuals who have perished in the desert over the last 15 years while trying to make a similar journey.
“We are looking at an immersive experience,” said High. “No matter where you stand on immigration, where you are coming from the left or right or down the middle, you will come out of watching these four hours really having a comprehensive perspective on what immigration is really all about – from all viewpoints.” “Borderland” will debut Sunday, April 6 at 9 p.m. Eastern, and the network is likely to broadcast a “reunion” show of sorts, High said, that will allow the people who took part to relay their feelings on the experience.
“Borderland” was produced by Australian independent production company “In Films” in association with Los Angeles-based Muck Media for Al Jazeera America.