The Audience Award

"It was such an honor when Independent Lens chose our film to open the inaugural PBS Indies Showcase last fall. And now — some ten months later — to be awarded this Audience Award truly takes our breath away. It is so humbling to hear from audiences across the country who have been inspired, awed, and reinvigorated by Arnel Pineda’s enduring story."
— Ramona S. Diaz, filmmaker, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

The votes are in and Independent Lens viewers have spoken! Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey is the winner of the Independent Lens 2013-2014 Audience Award. Congratulations to filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz and her team.

At film festivals, the award that often matters most to filmmakers and their subjects alike is the Audience Award. They know they’ve struck a chord when the audience applauds their efforts.

The Independent Lens audience has the opportunity to stand up and be counted by rating each film throughout the season. At the end of the season, the highest rated film is honored.


Learn more about the award and view past winners >>

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  • 2013-2014 Independent Lens Season

    Journey front man Arnel Pineda sings into a microphone during a concert

    In a real-life fairy tale, a Filipino singer is plucked from YouTube to front the iconic American band Journey, and must deal with the pressures of replacing a legend while leading the band on their longest world tour in ages.

  • Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Johnson checks on a patient.

    A cinema vérité portrait of a California city's public safety-net hospital as it struggles to handle patient overload in a swooning economy and a constantly shifting landscape of health care policy.

  • Close-up of Latino student Gustavo

    The struggles and triumphs of Latino and Latina students from across the United States are explored through their own eyes in this documentary about the challenges faced in our nation’s public education system.

  • Indian relay riders and horses seen against a county fair backdrop.

    Indian Relay follows teams from three different Native American communities in the Rocky Mountain states as they compete across a grueling season in one of the most exciting and dangerous forms of horse racing.

  •  Sunny Clifford looks up pensively at a stormy sky.

    Young Lakota chronicles the life-defining choices faced by three young people — two sisters and a neighbor — living in the Pine Ridge Reservation as they try to forge a better future for their tribe while securing their own well-being.

  • Robin Williams plays a character trapped in a cage.

    The fascinating process of creating new work for the stage is the focus of this documentary that follows two outstanding young playwrights from diverse backgrounds who are striving to get their plays seen.

  • Sushi master Jiro Ono.

    A thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling a master sushi chef’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world and a loving yet complicated father.

  • JBlack-and-white image of ACT UP activist standing next to a banner reading Silence = Death.

    The story of two grassroots coalitions — ACT UP and Treatment Action Group — made up of innovative activists, many of them HIV-positive, who fought to turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.

  •  An overhead view of the Berkeley  campus

    Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman goes back to school for this intimate yet sprawling film about the University of California at Berkeley, the oldest and most prestigious member of a ten campus public education system.

  • Rocky Braat with one of the children

    An intimate portrait of Rocky Braat, who travels to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he meets a group of HIV-positive children living at an AIDS hostel, a place of unspeakable hardship, he decides to stay and devote his life to them.

  • Young Latino man protesting Senate Bill 1070 wears T-shirt that reads We Will Not Comply as police attempt to move him.

    The turbulent battle over illegal immigration in Arizona that came to a head with Senate Bill 1070 frames this riveting documentary that tracks multiple perspectives as America eyes the results.

  • An archival black and white photo of an African American man wearing glasses, looking out over a street scene. Text written on the photo reads: X is departing this date for Oxford, Ohio, reports to a blind P.O. box. (some blacked out information)

    The story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation during the 1950s and ‘60s. Granted broad powers, this commission investigated citizens and organizations in attempts to derail the civil rights movement.

  • A debutante in an elaborate, colonial-era gown smiles onstage.

    Dating from the aftermath of the U.S.-Mexican War, the annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas is unlike any other. Las Marthas follows two Mexican American girls carrying this gilded tradition on their shoulders during a time of economic uncertainty and tension over immigration.

  • A group portrait of the women of the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

    A group of women friends who met via the Austin chapter of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and have tried every diet and diet pill, go through weight-loss surgery in an effort to lose hundreds of pounds. The experience presents a host of issues and consequences, some they never could have imagined.

  • A portrait of several members of the Medora High basketball team.

    A community beset by a crippled economy and dwindling population is the setting for this documentary following a down-but-not-out varsity basketball team over a season. The team’s struggle to compete parallels the town’s own fight for survival.

  • Brothers Hypnotic on stage with lead rapping

    Eight brothers who were forged into a band as children by their father, Chicago jazz maverick Phil Cohran, now try to march to their own beat on the streets of New York and in the music business as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

  • Black-and-white image of a young Muhammad Ali with a crowd of young African American men.

    The story of the explosive crossroads of Muhammad Ali’s life, after the famed boxer’s conversion to Islam and refusal to serve in the Vietnam War left him banned from boxing and facing a five-year prison sentence.

  • Rick Hall and Clarence Carter in the studio

    In this joyful film, Gregg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals's magnetism, mystery, and why it remains influential today.

  • A pensive looking close-up of Jayson Blair.

    A Fragile Trust tells the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the massive scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism.

  • Delbert Africa is arrested by police after the 1978 gun battle.

    This documentary brings to life one of the most tumultuous clashes between government and citizens in modern U.S. history, as a longtime feud between Philadelphia police and radical urban group MOVE came to a tragic climax in 1985.

  • A man places his hand on a boy's head

    Inspired by his own African American Baptist roots, director Roger Ross Williams explores a place where religion and African culture intersect, as Ugandan and American pastors spread evangelical values to millions desperate for a better life.

  • Centering on the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland, this documentary takes viewers into the pews, the streets, and kitchen tables to look at how the African American community grapples with the gay rights issue.