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20 Must-See Docs Making Their TV Premieres This October

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire October 2, 2012 at 9:21AM

October is big month for television -- the broadcast networks continue to roll our their new fall shows and familiar returning ones while cable channels like HBO and Showtime are in full swing with series like "Boardwalk Empire," "Treme," "Dexter" and "Homeland." In terms of sports, we're almost in MLB postseason, the NBA season starts on the 30th and we're a month in for the NFL. And when it comes to documentaries, this October offers an embarrassment of riches, with ESPN relaunching its "30 for 30" series, PBS hosting its third year of its "Voces" program showcases Latino artists, athletes and performers and more on other networks. Here's our guide to the docs making their TV premieres this month.
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'Ethel'
HBO 'Ethel'

"Ethel"
Thursday, October 18 at 9pm on HBO

This deeply personal portrait of one of America's most famous political families is told through the lens of 84-year-old Ethel Kennedy, who in her first extended interview in more than 20 years, talks about her marriage to Robert Kennedy, her political awakening, her faith and her children. The film, which includes rare home movie footage, was directed by Ethel's daughter Rory Kennedy ("Ghosts of Abu Ghraib").

"Sun Kissed"
Thursday, October 18 at 10pm on PBS

When investigating why their children have XP, a disease that makes exposure to sunlight fatal, a Navajo couple discovers that this rare genetic disorder is unusually common in their reservation. Filmmakers Maya Stark and Adi Lavy follow the pair as their search for why takes them all the way back to the consequences of the Navajos' forced relocation by the U.S. military in 1864.

"Lemon"
Friday, October 19 at 10pm on PBS

Lemon Andersen won a Tony for his work in Russell Simmons’ "Def Poetry Jam on Broadway," but after the show closed he lost everything and ended up moving with his family back to the projects. Directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison, "Voces" film "Lemon" follows Andersen's quest to take his life story to the New York stage.

"Battle for Brooklyn"
Saturday, October 20 at 9pm on DirecTV's Audience Network

DirecTV kicks off "Something to Talk About," a series of socially and culturally relevant docs presented in association with Brainstorm Media, with "Battle for Brooklyn." Directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, "Battle for Brooklyn" should be of particular interest to New Yorkers, as it looks at the recently opened Barclay's Center in Brooklyn and was shot over seven years as owners and residents in the community in which the compound was built fought against condemnation of their property to make way for the Atlantic Yards project.

"Benji"
Tuesday, October 23 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on ESPN

Directed by music video artists Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah, "30 for 30" doc "Benji" tells the tale of the short life and 1984 death of Chicago South Side basketball player Ben Wilson. An extremely talented high school athlete, one of the best young basketball players in the country, Wilson was killed in a gang altercation. In his director's statement about the film, Simmons explains they wanted to explore the legacy of gun violence: "We want to make the thugs cry!"

"Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life"
Tuesday, October 23 at 8pm on Investigation Discovery

Werner Herzog's outstanding doc about the two men convicted of a triple homicide in Conroe, Texas gets its world broadcast premiere on Investigation Discovery, the network that hosted his recent nonfiction series "Death Row." In exploring the crimes of Michael Perry, who received a death sentence, and Jason Burkett, who received a life sentence, Herzog finds an incredible tale of horror, violence and hope.

"The American Scream"
Sunday, October 28 at 8pm on Chiller

Michael Stephenson, the filmmaker behind "Best Worst Movie," directs this look at three different homemade haunted houses in Fairhaven, MA and the dreamers behind them. The doc, which is timed for Halloween, played well at Fantastic Fest in September.

"The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia"
Monday, October 29 at 9pm on HBO

Directed by James Redford, whose son is dyslexic, this film follows children with the disorder and offers a glimpse of their struggles as well as suggestions for how to deal with dyslexia on a daily basis. It also features interviews with dyslexics who've gone on to achieve great things, like Richard Branson, Gavin Newsom and Charles D. Schwab. Redford says he hopes his film "reveals that dyslexia is a neurological issue, not a character flaw."

"Love Free or Die"
Monday, October 29 at 10pm on PBS

New Hampshire bishop Eugene Robinson is the first openly gay priest in a committed same-sex relationship to be ordained a bishop in any Christian denomination. Directed by Macky Alston ("Hard Road Home"), "Love Free or Die" tracks the effect Robinson's consecration has had on the Episcopal Church and conflicts within both the church and state with regard to gay marriage.

"Ghosts of Ole Miss"
Tuesday, October 30 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on ESPN

The only perfect season in the history of the University of Mississippi football team was in 1962, the same year James Meredith walked onto campus and integrated the school under order and protection of the federal government. In this "30 for 30" film, director Fritz Mitchell ("The Legend of Jimmy the Greek") uses Wright Thompson's examination of those events to look at a moment in both sports and history.

This article is related to: PBS, Television, TV Features, ESPN, Independent Lens, PBS, POV, HBO , History, DirecTV, Investigation Discovery, Werner Herzog