SQ News

MEDIA RELEASE: HBO Documentary Films acquires Only the Dead by Queensland journalist Michael Ware

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Thursday 5 November: Screen Queensland and Screen Australia are thrilled to announce HBO Documentary Films has acquired U.S. rights to the Documentary Australian Foundation Award-winning Only the Dead.

Produced by Queensland-based Patrick McDonald (Predestination) and directed by Michael Ware and two-time Academy Award®-winning U.S. documentarian Bill Guttentag (Nanking, Twin Towers), Only the Dead recently screened to a captivated audience at Colorado’s 42nd Annual Telluride Film Festival.

The film is in contention for an Academy Award, vying to be shortlisted for Best Documentary. The shortlist will be announced in early December.

Only the Dead is a visceral and compelling documentary film centring on Australian journalist Michael Ware, a war correspondent reporting for Time Magazine and then CNN, who found 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 U.S. later this year and HBO will air the documentary in the first half of 2016. 

‘Following the incredible response Only the Dead has received by Australian film festival audiences, we are so proud that a Queenslander’s story will be told in the living rooms of millions of American viewers,’ said Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira.

‘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. 

‘It is a powerful piece of cinema.’

Liz Stevens, Senior Manager Documentary at Screen Australia said: ‘Screen Australia is thrilled to have provided support for this documentary by Australian journalist Michael Ware about his first-hand experience on the front lines of this conflict. It’s truly gratifying to know the film will be seen by international and local audiences, as it offers much insight into the complexities of war and humanity.  It’s really an important film and a project that Screen Australia was very happy to have backed.’

‘HBO has been a revolutionary force in modern storytelling and it is an honour for Only the Dead to become a part of that revolution. I could not be more humbled,” said Michael Ware.

‘We are thrilled that HBO will be the home for Only the Deadin the U.S.’ said producer Patrick McDonald.

‘Theirs is a storied history of excellence and taste.  A history we are delighted to be a part of, we can think of nobody better to bring this story to American audiences.’

Read more about Only The Dead on The Screen Blog here.

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For all media enquiries, please contact:

Patrick McDonald

T: +61 449 919 450

E:  paddy@wolfhoundpictures.com.au



For all Screen Queensland media enquiries, please contact:

Angela Samut

T: +61 7 3248 0500

E: asamut@screenqld.com.au


Only the Dead, a Penance Film and Wolfhound Pictures Production, is presented by Screen Australia in association with Screen Queensland and Foxtel.  Directed by Bill Guttentag and Michael Ware. Producers are Patrick McDonald and Michael Ware.

Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world’s most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services – HBO® and Cinemax® – to approximately 127 million subscribers worldwide. 

HBO Documentary Films offers a full spectrum of stellar, non-fiction programming by acclaimed documentary filmmakers. Its powerful, uncompromising, and critically-acclaimed programming has won virtually every award within the documentary genre. 

HBO will premiere the documentary under the title, Only The Dead See The End of War, in the first half of 2016 following a U.S. theatrical release late 2015.

Transmission Films released the film in Australia in late October 2015.