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All posts by Craig Phillips

Craig is ITVS/Independent Lens Interactive Editor, based in San Francisco. He is a film nerd, cartoonist, wannabe screenwriter and owner of/owned by cats.

Filmmakers Capture a Troubled Veteran’s Farm Life

Farmer/Veteran was made by a trio of talented young filmmakers: Alix Blair documented the lives of women in southwestern Uganda for her Master’s work at Duke University; Jeremy Lange has been a photographer and cinematographer whose past film and video work includes the Peabody Award-winning television show A Chef’s Life and the documentary film Private Violence; … READ MORE

Ben Lear Shows Reality and Human Face of Juvenile Justice System

They Call Us Monsters is Ben Lear’s first film as director, but he’s not new to the business. Yes, Ben is the son of trailblazing TV producer-writer Norman Lear of All in the Family and Good Times fame (and you can read more about their relationship and how proud they are of each other in this … READ MORE

Maya Zinshtein Explores How Soccer and Racism Intersected in Israel

Israeli journalist-filmmaker Maya Zinshtein is in many ways the perfect person to make a film about the combustible story of Beitar Jerusalem FC, the Israeli soccer club which imploded when bringing in two foreign Muslim players led to boycotts and threats from the anti-Muslim, rabidly racist fan group La Familia. Zinshtein is herself an “outsider” … READ MORE

Canadian Filmmaker Explores American Prison System’s Long Reach

Canadian filmmaker Brett Story was recently awarded the inaugural New Visions Award from Canada’s DOC Institute, who wrote of her, “Watching Story’s socially engaged but visually driven work provides ample evidence that she was an obvious choice for the award, given to an emerging professional filmmaker who demonstrates a keen artistic sensibility and potential to lead … READ MORE

A Drone by Any Other Name: The Different Kinds of Drones

Drones are at the center of the new Independent Lens film National Bird (which premieres on PBS Monday, May 1 at 10; check local listings), though the documentary puts a very human face behind military drone operations, focusing on the post-traumatic stress stemming from participating in remote warfare. But for a word that comes up so often … READ MORE

Comedians Talk About Pushing Boundaries and Crossing Lines

Defining what is taboo in comedy is the central question of The Last Laugh, which premieres on Independent Lens Monday, April 24 — check local listings. What is out of bounds to talk about in comedy? The film features performers who are no strangers to pushing the limits, including Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Ross (Comedy Central’s “Roastmaster General”). … READ MORE

Ferne Pearlstein Asks Comedians and Survivors: What Is Off-Limits in Comedy?

“Somebody once said, ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy.’ And I always felt, why wait?” – Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, in The Last Laugh There have been many films about the Holocaust, many good and important and extremely necessary films, but The Last Laugh is likely the first to include comedians like Mel Brooks, Larry Charles, Judy … READ MORE

Filmmakers Share the Roots of their Seed Documentary

With SEED: The Untold Story, filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz complete a trilogy of sorts, after The Real Dirt on Farmer John and The New York Times Critic Pick Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us, of films that put a very human face on the intersection of agriculture and ecology. … READ MORE

Kim A. Snyder Tells Newtown Families’ Deeply Intimate Story

Filmmaker Kim Snyder is no stranger to having to patiently and empathetically ingratiate herself with a community. Her film Welcome to Shelbyville, which was nationally broadcast on Independent Lens, spent time in a small Tennessee town where its residents — whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis — grappled with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. … READ MORE

Healing Places: Rebuilding After a Community Tragedy

“The only thing tragedy gives us is the opportunity to rebuild our life.” -writer Paulo Coelho The film Newtown asks, “What remains after all is lost?” Some have said that it is much harder to rebuild oneself after experiencing an unconscionable tragedy than it is to physically rebuild a space on the site the tragedy happened. … READ MORE

Ovarian Psycos Filmmakers Follow the Ovas Bike Brigade in East L.A.

Ovarian Psycos brought together filmmakers Joanna Sokolowski, who co-produced the Emmy® Award-winning HBO documentary Very Semi-Serious (2015), about New Yorker cartoonists, and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who first began in the field of social justice media as an educator and media maker. They collaborated to tell the story of the “Ovas,” a raucous, irreverently … READ MORE