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Monday, June 10, 2013: HBO Documentary Films Summer Series

Here's another sign that summer is finally here: HBO is launching its annual series of new documentaries tonight, with the premiere of the Sundance hit Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.

Directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin, the film follows the eponymous Russian all-female punk band/art collective, who were dragged into court after staging one of their lively protests in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. Three of the five women were sentenced to two years in a labor camp on the grounds of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." The case captured international attention before, during and after the trial courtesy of the group's YouTube presence, with Amnesty International -- among other groups -- calling for their release. A Punk Prayer films the women in and out of their colorful balaclavas, both in one-on-one interviews and courtroom footage, providing a detailed and compelling analysis of the ins and outs of the country's legal system as well as its complicated relationship with free speech.

Pussy Riot is a strong start to a documentary slate that also includes the biography Love, Marilyn, which features dramatic readings of Marilyn Monroe's letters by actresses like Elizabeth Banks and Hope Davis; The OUT List, featuring interviews with high-profile gay and lesbian celebrities; and Gasland Part II, Josh Fox's sequel to his anti-fracking documentary hit. The series runs from June 10 to August 12, just as Breaking Bad returns to dominate our headspace one last time.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer premieres at 9 PM on HBO, opposite the season premiere of Major Crimes on TNT and in the middle of another live episode of The Voice on NBC starting at 8 PM.

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