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How Do You Measure A Year? This sweet father-daughter HBO documentary short is a must-watch

Published Jun 9th, 2023 2:50PM EDT
How Do You Measure A Year HBO Documentary
Image: HBO

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Because I’m a shameless softie, the next HBO release that I’m most looking forward to is not one of the obvious biggies (like, say, Season 3 of The Righteous Gemstones that’s coming later this month). It’s actually an HBO documentary short, the 29-minute How Do You Measure A Year? from filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt — who’s produced one of the sweetest and most feel-good streaming titles in recent memory, as far as I’m concerned.

His short documentary feature, which was nominated for an Academy Award, arrives on HBO on June 14 (and will be streamable on Max) in time for Father’s Day over the weekend.

Basically, How Do You Measure A Year? — in addition to getting the hopelessly addictive theme song from Rent stuck in your head — involves Rosenblatt filming his daughter Ella every year on her birthday. She sits in the same spot every time, answering the same questions — and, in the process, grows up as a young woman in front of our eyes, albeit in the compressed time span of a completely endearing HBO documentary short.

Rosenblatt filmed his daughter each year from the age of 2 all the way to her 18th birthday, asking her things like how she defines the word “power” and to simply describe herself. In response to being asked, when she’s clearly only a few years old, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Ella, who seems a bit fidgety, answers: “Put on makeup and eat gum.”

Her answers over the years range from youthful and funny to quite poignant, such as the time when she’s asked, at age 11, to define power: “Power is being yourself. That takes a lot of power.”

In a statement about the documentary, per Deadline, Rosenblatt shared: “I am thrilled HBO has acquired How Do You Measure a Year? 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.”

The perfect home, indeed. In addition to Rosenblatt’s gem, HBO Documentary Films’ recent Oscar darlings include the Academy Award-nominated All That Breathes, as well as 2023 Oscar winner Navalny.

How Do You Measure A Year HBO documentary
Ella and Jay Rosenblatt. Image source: HBO
Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.