By Lennlee Keep It was the summer of 1979 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Everyone in my family gets a sunburn when we even think about a beach, so we are very indoorsy. My 11-year-old brother Rob had a new game: Dungeons & Dragons. He studied the dragon-decorated guide books and painted teeny metal elves with paint …
Take a time-out to space out with our visual quiz. See if you can guess if each image is from an Independent Lens documentary film, or from the far reaches of outer space.
What drives humankind to explore? There are several factors that can embolden a person to “seek out new civilizations” or “boldly go where no one has gone before,” to borrow from Star Trek’s famous opener. History has taught us that famine, war, strife, and persecution can drive people away from their home country, yet positive things like opportunity or hope for a better life can draw us towards the unknown.
In July of 1999, on Apollo 11’s 30th anniversary, at a Kennedy Space Center press conference, NASA astronaut and first moonwalker Neil Armstrong lamented, “School children used to say, ‘We are reading about you in science class.’ Now they say, ‘We are reading about you in history class.’”
Looking for some summer reading? Love Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City? Enter for your chance to win a copy of his book Logical Family: A Memoir. You have until June 26 at 2:00 pm PT.
It’s been 41 years since Armistead Maupin’s first Tales of the City book was published, 26 years since the initial PBS series based on that book aired, and now with a new incarnation premiering on Netflix, we thought it would be fun to return to the core of the books and find out: what Tales character are you?
Now that Independent Lens has concluded another season–and we can’t thank you enough for watching and supporting–it’s time for you to make yourself heard. Vote now for your pick in the 2018-19 Audience Award. Pick your favorite documentary from this past season’s award-winning slate of films; you can pick up to three choices. Which film will take the top prize? The deadline to vote is Tuesday, June 11 at 5 pm Pacific.
The story of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School–a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools–and their tough-love coach coming to terms with his own past, Wrestle is “superb,” wrote Kenneth Turan in the LA Times. “Just as sports mirror society, so do the best sports films not only take us inside games and those who play them but also provide insight into our world and how it works.” He rightly adds, “One reason Wrestle is so effective is that [the directors] and cinematographer Sinisa Kukic made the decision to move to Huntsville for the duration of the shoot. What resulted was not only 650 hours of footage but the benefit of countless additional time spent just hanging out with the protagonists.”
Herbert and co-director Belfer spoke to us about how they came to make this film and that decision to move to Alabama for a long while, as well as how the kids are doing today.
Driving kids home from practice, taking them to visit colleges, running and lifting weights with them out of season, answering the phone in the middle of the night when something has gone wrong — these are just a few of the many roles sports coaches take on for their players. The player/coach relationship can be special, as seen in the film Wrestle, it can be a chance for young people to connect with a mentor who knows them individually and pushes them through their struggles.
Motherhood is universal – none of us would be here without our moms. For some, that relationship is loving and supportive; for others, it’s fraught with complications. Especially if Mom is famous or trying to change the world. Or both.
These filmmakers examine what it means to be a mother, a daughter, and a woman in a not always kind world.
Harvest Season serves as a reminder that agriculture is notoriously sensitive to the ebb and flow of external forces — natural disasters, economic movements, and political change. Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz artfully depicts the Sonoma and Napa wine industry as a modern microcosm for this ever-changing delicate balance. But the small-scale cycles presented in Harvest Season naturally beg a historical question. What past iterations of turmoil brought the winemaking industry in Sonoma and Napa to where it is today?
Two-time Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn, made his directorial feature debut with the PBS film Reportero, about attacks on the press in Mexico, which New York Magazine called “a powerful reminder of how journalism often requires immense amounts of physical and psychological bravery.” He’s followed that up with …