HBO has become an important showcase for long-form non-fiction programming on important social issues. As a cable programming service, HBO has offered television audiences a broader range of controversial subjects that are often more explicit than network broadcasts. This commitment was exemplified in two documentaries last year:
High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, an hour-long cinema verite portrait of several crack-addicts in a declining Massachusetts neighborhood. The camera took viewers uncomfortably close to addiction, leaving no romance in this view of the drug culture.
The Celluloid Closet, an engaging documentary about the evolution of gay and lesbian characters in Hollywood films. Intercut with anecdotes and observations by many film industry professionals are historical film clips, funny and poignant, once obscure and now remarkably frank. Narrated by Lily Tomlin and based on a book of the same name, this program turned the best of Hollywood’s skills into a revealing self-portrait.
The Silver Baton was accepted by Sheila Nevins, senior vice president for documentary and family programming for HBO.