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TOPIC: Cinema

12 Documentaries About the Vietnam War on the American Homefront

On Sunday, September 17th, PBS will debut the latest project from Ken Burns and his frequent collaborator Lynn Novick: the ten-part, 18-hour series The Vietnam War. Just like Burns and Novick’s previous films The War (about WWII) and Prohibition (about American culture in the 1920s), the new documentary combines a broader historical overview with compelling … READ MORE

2016-17 Independent Lens Audience Award Poll! The Winner Is…

It’s time to vote for your own personal favorite from the just-concluded 2016-2017 season of Independent Lens. The voting period will run through 5 pm PT Friday, July 21. There were 20 films in this season that lasted from October through July, so we know it’s tough to choose, but if you could pick just one … READ MORE

Memorial Day: Docs That Capture the Human Experience of War

There is no shortage of documentaries on war. The subject fascinates us as history, as sociology, and as drama. Some documentaries chronicle history in great detail, some grapple with the issues and forces behind the conflicts, and some flat-out propagandize. But very few of those documentaries actually engage with the human experience. So for Memorial … READ MORE

Teachers Beat the “Macho Culture” in Prisons through Art Programs

In the early 2000s, Hollywood invested in the urban fairy tale where a teacher is called into the principal’s office of a school in a low-income, broken part of town and is requested to help “build character and morale.” (Think Samuel L. Jackson in Coach Carter, Antonio Banderas in Take the Lead and Hilary Swank … 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

Girl Power: The Original #SquadGoals (and Just #Goals in General)

In the Independent Lens documentary Ovarian Psycos (premiering Monday, March 27 at 10; check local listings), we’re introduced to The Ovas — a chicanx (xicanx) feminist group who bike through the streets of East L.A. in honor of sisterhood. While bike riding in solidarity is definitely an underground movement, womxn coming together to uplift and empower … READ MORE

9 Great Documentaries About Women Activists

As Women’s History Month continues, we’re shining the spotlight on women activists who faced down injustice, pioneered paths for other women and girls, or have fought heroically trying to save the world. Although the women on this list focused on different arenas, in the end they’re all inevitably linked. As feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote … READ MORE

Meet the Trailblazers of Documentary Activism

We think of the cinema of activism in documentary filmmaking as a relatively modern phenomenon, something first awakened in the 1960s and 1970s and popularized by the likes of Michael Moore and Laura Poitras and Alex Gibney. But the success films like Bowling for Columbine (2002) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006), both Oscar winners and box-office … READ MORE

10 Great Animated Documentaries

Keith Maitland’s animated documentary TOWER [on Independent Lens Tuesday, February 14 at 10pm; check local listings] has left critics and awards-voting bodies alike flummoxed as to how best to categorize it. This is a visionary work, no doubt, that uses voice-actors and vintage audio to reconstruct what happened back in 1966 when a sniper shot dozens of … READ MORE