Beyond 'The Jinx': Twelve memorable documentaries on HBO

Beyond 'The Jinx': Twelve memorable documentaries on HBO
Robert Durst on the set of the HBO documentary series "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst." (HBO)

HBO's "The Jinx," which concluded Sunday, focused new attention on New York real estate scion Robert Durst in connection with the 2000 death of his longtime friend Susan Berman. On Monday, Durst was charged with murder.

The six-part series is hardly the first documentary on the premium cable channel to strike a chord with the critics or the public. Below is a selection of some of the more well-received works from HBO's robust documentary division, along with trailers for each.

China's Stolen Children by HBOclips

"China's Stolen Children"

Jezza Neumann's 2007 film exposes the stolen-child black market in China via the stories of several men, women and children. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, the documentary won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award.


Director Laura Poitras' examination of personal privacy and security in the digital age, through the prism of NSA document leaker Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for documentary feature this year. It had its broadcast premiere on HBO the Monday after the Academy Awards.

"The Curious Case of Curt Flood"

Aaron Cohen's 2011 film tells the story of former St. Louis Cardinal center fielder Curt Flood, who sued Major League Baseball over its "reserve clause." The case eventually set the stage for the advent of free agency.


Rory Kennedy is the youngest of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, and her 2012 film puts her mother and famous family in the spotlight. Released weeks before election day, the film takes a loving look at the Kennedys during a time of great social turmoil and political divisions. It was nominated for five Emmys.

"4 Little Girls"

Spike Lee's first feature-length documentary details the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of Birmingham, Ala.'s 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed four young African American girls. The 1997 film was nominated for an Oscar and premiered on HBO in 1998. Watch the trailer.

"Ghosts of Abu Ghraib"

Rory Kennedy's 2007 look at the Abu Ghraib prison looks at how the American military used humiliation and brutality in an attempt to obtain information from prisoners. Watch the trailer.

"Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God"

Alex Gibney's 2012 film shows efforts to protect and in some instances seemingly aid sexually predatory priests. It premiered on HBO the week after the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released documents chronicling how church officials thwarted sex abuse investigations. It won three Emmy Awards, including for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking.

"Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words"

Peter Kunhardt's 2014 film uses President Nixon's secretly recorded conversations in the White House from 1971 to 1973 to tell the disgraced leader's story.

"Night Will Fall"

Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, Andre Singer's "Night Will Fall" looks at the making of the film "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey," which was to document the camps' atrocities, with Alfred Hitchcock as the film's supervising director. "Night Will Fall" premiered in January and features restored raw footage as well as discussions with the soldiers who liberated the camp, the men who shot the footage and Holocaust survivors.

"Regarding Susan Sontag"

Nancy Kates' 2014 documentary examines the late American novelist, critic and cultural observer. It received a jury special mention at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

"Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired"

Marina Zenovich's 2008 documentary on director Roman Polanski led to speculation that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office reopened Polanski's sex assault case after being embarrassed in the film. The film won two Emmys for direction and writing for nonfiction programming.

"The Trials of Ted Haggard"

Alexandra Pelosi's 45-minute film, which premiered on HBO in January 2009, looks at Ted Haggard's attempt to recover from the sex scandal that drove him from his Colorado Springs, Colo., church in 2006.

Times staff writer Martin Miller contributed to this article.