The HBO Original three-part docuseries SAVIOR COMPLEX from Emmy®-winning filmmaker Jackie Jesko, executive produced by Nick Capote, Alex Waterfield, and Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams (HBO’s “Love to Love You, Donna Summer,” “God Loves Uganda”) debuts TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO followed by episodes two and three airing Wednesday, September 27 beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. All three episodes will be available to stream on Max beginning September 26 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Synopsis: SAVIOR COMPLEX chronicles the controversial story surrounding Renee Bach, a young American missionary who felt called by God to set up a charity for malnourished children in Jinja, Uganda. But years later, shocking allegations arose that Renee was treating the sick children herself, without medical qualifications. Detailing Renee’s divisive journey, the series addresses the wider questions around “white saviorism” and the ethics of foreign aid work done in the name of humanitarian and religious ideals.
At the age of 19, Renee, a Virginia homeschooled high school graduate and Evangelical missionary founded Serving His Children (SHC), an organization to help feed and care for malnourished children in Uganda. Amid whistleblower accusations that Renee was treating the sick children herself with no medical qualifications, a social media activist group called No White Saviors starts to draw public attention to the situation, calling Renee the “Angel of Death” and a “poster child for neocolonialism.” With Renee denying the accusations and claiming that her work was guided by God and helped save hundreds of lives, SAVIOR COMPLEX takes a close look at the thorny complexities of missionary work when local facilities are underfunded, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) fill the gap to provide resources in developing countries. With extraordinary access to Renee, her accusers, lawyers, activists, and mothers who seek to hold her accountable, the series addresses the timely and provocative issues at the intersection of religion, race, and power.
Episode 1: “God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called”
Debut date: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
At 19 years old, Renee Bach felt God’s call to serve as a missionary and moves to Jinja, Uganda to start a charity that addresses childhood malnutrition. She earns the support of local Ugandan officials and foreign donors alike. But when an American nurse comes to volunteer at the charity, she makes a shocking discovery and accuses Renee of treating these medically fragile children herself, with only a high school diploma to her name.
Episode 2: “Cast the First Stone”
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
The volunteer nurse makes a formal complaint to Renee’s board about her concerns and resigns as donations to SHC hit an all-time high. While the charity expands and hires more staff, there are rumors that Renee is continuing to practice medicine herself. As a result, a disillusioned former missionary joins forces with a Ugandan activist to make sure the story of Renee’s alleged “deadly white saviorism” is heard around the world.
Episode 3: “Reap What You Sow”
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Renee is back in the United States facing a lawsuit brought by a Ugandan human rights attorney on behalf of two bereaved mothers. While she fights against the accusations in the lawsuit, the social media movement against her escalates and Renee must reckon with her choices and questions her faith and desire to serve.
Featured Participants: The series features intimate access to Renee Bach and her mother Lauri Bach, the U.S. Director of SHC, as well as the activists, lawyers, and whistleblowers seeking to hold her accountable. Interview subjects include Olivia Alaso and Kelsey Nielsen, the founders of No White Saviors; Constance Alonyo, SHC’s head nurse; Jackie Kramlich, a SHC volunteer-turned-whistleblower; Dr. Abner Tagoola, Head of Pediatrics at Jinja Hospital; Primah Kwagala, a human rights attorney who led a civil suit against Renee; Kakai Annet and Gimbo Zubeda, the two mothers who sued Renee, claiming their children died at SHC.
Credits: HBO Documentaries presents SAVIOR COMPLEX, A Latchkey Films Production. Directed and produced by Jackie Jesko; produced by Paul Kabango, Derrick Kibisi; executive produced by Roger Ross Williams, Alex Waterfield, and Nick Capote. For HBO: executive producers, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, and Sara Rodriguez.