EXCLUSIVE: Emmy and Peabody-winning producer Sara Bernstein has been set as executive vice president at Imagine Documentaries, the recently launched division of Imagine Entertainment that is headed by president Justin Wilkes. Bernstein is a 19-year HBO vet, integral in many of the payweb’s seminal documentary films. Bernstein joins Wilkes in leading the development and production of premium feature docs and non-scripted series, and she will leverage her longstanding relationships within that community.
“I couldn’t possibly think of a better partner than Sara,” Wilkes. “For years, I’ve admired her work as a producer, an executive and as someone who is beloved by talent across the board. I’m so excited that we get to work side-by-side and build this new venture together.”
At HBO, the docus that Bernstein has produced and overseen include Judd Apatow’s Emmy-nominated The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, Laura Poitras’ Oscar and Emmy winner Citizenfour, Alex Gibney’s Emmy winner Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Brett Morgen’s Emmy-nommed Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato’s Emmy-nommed Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures, Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker’s Emmy-nommed Unlocking The Cage, and the Emmy-nominated Beware The Slenderman, The Case Against 8; Believer, May It Last, Mommy Dead and Dearest, Suited (exec produced by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner), Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer and Sebastian Junger’s Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.
Bernstein said she is “thrilled to join the extraordinary team of innovators at Imagine. There is no better time than now in the premium documentary landscape, and working alongside Ron, Brian, Michael and Justin in launching a nonfiction division is a dream come true.
Imagine co-chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard launched the New York-based docu group to expand on their footprint in the documentary film space following the pleasant experience they had on the Howard-directed The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, which won the 2017 Grammy for Best Music Film. Other documentaries over the years for Imagine include Jay Z’s Made in America, Prophet’s Prey, Katy Perry: Part of Me, Inside Deep Throat, and Beyond The Mat. The company is currently working on a Ron Howard directed documentary about opera great Luciano Pavarotti, to be released in 2019. For television, Imagine is behind the hit National Geographic hybrid series Mars, as well as Breakthrough.
The trophy count for all the documentaries Bernstein worked on includes 10 Emmy wins, 28 Emmy nominations, and 11 Peabody Awards, as well as two Oscars and 13 Oscar nominations.