HBO Documentary Films Acquires Oscar-Nominated ‘How Do You Measure a Year?’, Unique Father-Daughter Collaboration From Director Jay Rosenblatt

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Documentary Films has acquired worldwide and television streaming rights to the Oscar-nominated short How Do You Measure a Year?, a film director Jay Rosenblatt shot over the course of 17 years with his daughter Ella.

Every year on Ella’s birthday, from the ages of 2 to 18, he recorded as he asked his daughter the same set of questions, such as how she would describe herself and how she defines the word “power.” Her answers – funny, poignant, wise, surprising — form the basis of the 29-minute film. At age 9, for instance, Ella describes herself as “fun, funny, jokeful, loving, peaceful — sometimes.” Two years later, as she turns 11, she offers this definition of power: “Power is being yourself. That takes a lot of power.”

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Director Jay Rosenblatt
Director Jay Rosenblatt

HBO Documentary Films says it will premiere How Do You Measure a Year? on HBO in June 2023, coinciding with Father’s Day. The film will also be available to stream on HBO Max.

This marks the second year in a row Rosenblatt has earned an Academy Award nomination, following his recognition last year for When We Were Bullies, a documentary about an incident in his childhood in New York. HBO also acquired When We Were Bullies, and today’s acquisition extends a long partnership with the director.

“I am thrilled HBO has acquired How Do You Measure a Year?,” Rosenblatt said in a statement. “Given that HBO has debuted two previous films I made with my daughter, and much of my other work, they are the perfect home for this film and for me as a filmmaker.”

Rosenblatt says until the Covid pandemic hit, he had never looked at any of the material he shot over that nearly two-decade span. At a screening at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles Monday night, he discussed the editing process.

“It came quicker than probably any film I’ve done,” he told the audience. “Like the last film, the Bullies film, that really was a long process. That took four years to make. This was a few months of editing; I mean, it was a long period of time of filming, but it just fell into place. It was so clear what were the little gems. I think the biggest challenge was to keep it moving forward, not just with the chronological age, but with the cuts and how to go from one year to the next and just keep propelling it.”

He added, “The other thing is that it was so enjoyable. It could have taken longer and I wouldn’t have cared because I was having so much fun just seeing [Ella] grow up and going back to the footage.”

Recent titles from HBO Documentary Films including the Oscar-nominated feature All That Breathes, Oscar-shortlisted short 38 at the Garden, the features Katrina Babies, Master of Light, Pelosi in the House, and the 9-part docuseries The Vow.

Locomotion Films presents How Do You Measure a Year? by Jay Rosenblatt, featuring Ella Rosenblatt. Jay Rosenblatt is producer, director, and editor of the film, with cinematography by Thomas Logoreci and Jay Rosenblatt. Sound design and mix are by Dan Olmsted, with color grading by Robert Arnold; Summers Henderson is the online editor.

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