TOPIC: Arts & Culture

10 Questions with “Rat Film” Composer Dan Deacon: On Baltimore, Rats, Player Pianos and Theremins

Baltimore-based composer/musician Dan Deacon did the music for Theo Anthony’s Rat Film [premiering on Independent Lens Feb. 26]. The film, which uses the urban rat as a way to explore a deeper story of urbanization and segregation, is a unique blend of history, science and sci-fi, poetry and portraiture. And Deacon’s music, also a unique … READ MORE

For “Winnie”: Anti-Apartheid Songs of Protest

By Sarah Bardeen, guest contributor Modern South Africa was forged in apartheid. The struggle defined life for generations of South Africans, and music was crucial in that struggle. Black South Africans saw their guns confiscated, their homes bulldozed, their land stolen, but in the mouths of demonstrators, song became both a balm and a weapon. … READ MORE

How a Chinese Filmmaker Ended up in Florida with a Drifter from Utah

Nanfu Wang was a student at NYU when she went exploring America, which found her in Florida staying at a hostel. There she encountered a young drifter named Dylan, whom she found fascinating enough to start filming, capturing his experiences living on the streets while she stayed right there with him. But then she went … READ MORE

Independent Lens Announces Spring 2018 Slate of Award-Winning Films

Independent Lens, which recently won the 2017 IDA Documentary Award for Best Curated Series from the International Documentary Association, now officially announces our March-May 2018 lineup on PBS. Dolores, Peter Bratt’s highly-acclaimed film about activist Dolores Huerta premieres March 27; other highlights include documentaries that dig deep into recent news stories including No Man’s Land, … READ MORE

How “I Am Not Your Negro” Filmmaker Reopened James Baldwin’s “House”

The worldly Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck and his family fled the Duvalier dictatorship in 1961 and found asylum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before Peck finished his schooling in the United States, France, and Germany. Currently living in both France and the U.S., Peck has been given numerous Human Rights Watch awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in … READ MORE

Muscle Shoals’ Rick Hall Passes Away

Sad news to report, that Rick Hall, the star of the Independent Lens film Muscle Shoals, has died at the age of 85 after a long illness. The Fame Studios founder, who is credited with launching the career of such music icons as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and others, published and recorded numerous R&B, pop and … READ MORE

Take the Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City Pop Quiz!

Test your knowledge of all things Armistead Maupin and about his beloved Tales of the City series in this new quiz that we created in honor of the PBS premiere of The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a new documentary premiering on Independent Lens Monday, January 1st.  The quiz is for both for longtime fans and those who … READ MORE

From North Carolina to San Francisco: Jennifer Kroot Tells the Tales of Maupin

Jennifer Kroot brings a background in underground filmmaking to her documentaries and uses that sensibility to create surprises within her stories. The San Francisco-based filmmaker first caught the eye of writer Armistead Maupin when he saw her documentary To Be Takei, about actor and activist George Takei, and, as Maupin said affectionately and humorously in … READ MORE

On Supergirls, Sasha Fierce, Slim Shady and Having an Alter Ego

By Michelle Konstantinovsky Naomi Kutin is technically the central subject of the new Independent Lens documentary Supergirl. But as the film unfolds, viewers learn fairly quickly that there are actually two equally important protagonists: Kutin and her all-powerful alter ego, “Supergirl.” At first glance, the story might seem specific to Kutin, but the New Jersey pre-teen is representative … READ MORE

Filmmaker John Scheinfeld Chases Coltrane’s Legacy

Filmmaker John Scheinfeld is no stranger to taking on challenging subjects for documentaries. The Emmy®, Grammy® and Writers Guild Award nominee and writer/director/producer’s other films include The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him), We Believe, and Dick Cavett’s Watergate. But something about the story of legendary jazz … READ MORE