HBO acquires Australian doco Only the Dead

05 November, 2015 by IF

HBO Documentary Films has bought the US rights to feature documentary Only the Dead, which centres on Australian journalist Michael Ware.


The film is produced by Queensland-based Patrick McDonald (Predestination) and directed by Ware and two-time Academy Award-winning US documentarian Bill Guttentag (Nanking, Twin Towers).

Only the Dead recently screened at Colorado’s 42nd Annual Telluride Film Festival.

The film is also vying for an Academy Award and is elibible to shortlisted for Best Documentary. 

The shortlist will be announced in early December.

Only the Dead is a visceral and compelling documentary which follows Ware, a war correspondent reporting for Time Magazine and then CNN.

Ware finds himself launched into the Middle East following the geopolitical upheaval of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Ware, whose journalism career began at Queensland’s The Courier Mail, shot hundreds of hours of camcorder footage between 2003 and 2007 in war-torn Iraq.  

He was the first western journalist to get access to combat insurgents and as the nature of the war changed, Ware was given an extraordinary window into the rise of terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – a man wanted for his role in hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq. 

Al-Zarqawi was killed in 2006.

The film will be theatrically released in the US later this year and HBO will air the documentary in the first half of 2016. 

Screen Queensland chief executive, Tracey Viera, said she was proud that a Queenslander's story would be told in the living rooms of millions of US viewers.

"This is an important documentary that allows Michael to share his story and connect with a global audience whose sons, daughters, fathers, wives and friends fought the war in Iraq," she said. 

"It is a powerful piece of cinema."

Ware said HBO had been a revolutionary force in modern storytelling and that it was an honour for Only the Dead to become a part of that revolution. 

"I could not be more humbled," he said.