HBO Acquires SXSW Mental Health Docu ‘Ernie & Joe’

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Documentary Films has acquired the North American TV and streaming rights to Jenifer McShane’s (Mothers of Bedford) Ernie & Joe. The documentary feature follows San Antonio police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, who are diverting people from jail and into mental health treatment.

Ernie & Joe made its world premiere in March at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received Special Jury Recognition. In addition, the film earned the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature at this year’s Independent Film Festival Boston. The film will continue its festival run at the AFI DOCS Film Festival and is slated to debut on HBO later this year.

“I am deeply grateful to HBO Documentary Films for bringing this story to a national audience and hope other police and mental health professionals can benefit from the experience of Ernie & Joe,” said McShane.

Part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, the titular Ernie and Joe are putting compassionate policing practices into action. The docu chronicles their daily encounters with people in crisis, showing how their innovative approach to policing – which takes mental health into account – is having a dramatic effect on the way police respond to these challenges.

The deal for Ernie & Joe was negotiated with HBO by Submarine. McShane also produced the film. Andrea Meditch serves as executive producer while EJ Enriquez is the cinematographer and Toby Shimin is the editor.

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