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Netflix announces new documentaries on New Journalism pioneers Joan Didion and Gay Talese

Author Joan Didion in 1977. (Mary Lloyd Estrin)
Author Joan Didion in 1977. (Mary Lloyd Estrin)

As summer fades and fall approaches, Netflix is getting into a literary frame of mind. On Wednesday, the streaming giant announced a pair of new original documentaries centered on two celebrated chroniclers of the American experience, Joan Didion and Gay Talese.

In "Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold," actor and director Griffin Dunne – who is the nephew of the essayist and novelist – offers an intimate look at his "Aunt Joan." Through archival footage and interviews with the confessional yet enigmatic 82-year-old author of such books as "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," "The White Album" and "The Year of Magical Thinking," the film traces Didion's life and career and the ways in which they intersected with some of the most turbulent times in our country's political and cultural history. 

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to convey the life and work of my aunt, and literary icon, Joan Didion,”  Dunne said in a statement. “This documentary is a true labor of love and to partner with Netflix, who will help bring this to a global audience, is more than I could have hoped for when I started on this over 5 years ago.”

"Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold" will premiere at the New York Film Festival and will launch on Netflix on Oct. 27.

"Voyeur" follows the 84-year-old Talese – who, along with Didion, was one of the pioneers of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s – as he reports a controversial story on a Colorado motel owner named Gerald Foos, who spent decades spying on his guests and recording their most private moments. Driven by his own insatiable curiosity, Talese goes down a rabbit hole with Foos, who proves to be a not entirely reliable narrator of his own strange and lurid story.

"Directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury deftly catapult us into one of the most highly complex and wily relationships between writer and subject, where the unremitting pursuit of the ultimate scoop and the ever-shifting memory of a serial voyeur collide and create an entirely new truth,” said Lisa Nishimura, vice president of Original Documentaries for Netflix.

"Voyeur" will also premiere at the New York Film Festival and be available on Netflix later this year.

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