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TOPIC: Civil Liberties

Native Hawaiian Prisoners Learn Their Culture While Far From Home

By Christine Hitt The Independent Lens documentary Out of State follows Native Hawaiian exiting inmates, who were sent out of Hawai‘i to a private prison in Arizona, and how they struggle to transition into society again once their term is done. For close to 25 years, Hawai‘i has been sending prisoners to the continental U.S. … READ MORE

How to Pronounce (and Not Pronounce) “Tre Maison Dasan”

One of the three “stars” of the documentary Tre Maison Dasan, Maison is a funny, charming, hyper-articulate 11-year-old whose Autism Spectrum Disorder presents itself through his ever-active mind and deep love for those around him. He also very much wants you to know how to properly pronounce his name and the names of his fellow stars in … READ MORE

Filmmakers Navigate the Secretive World of Social Media Censorship in Atmosphere of Fear

You know German filmmakers Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block are sharp-minded characters when you learn they work collaboratively under the label “Laokoon,” named after the legendary Trojan seer Laocoön who in Greek mythology revealed the Trojan Horse as a dangerous fraud. In their works, Riesewieck and Block aim to reveal the Trojan horses of our … READ MORE

Delete or Ignore? Pretend You’re a Facebook Content Moderator

In 2018, after much debate and controversy, Facebook finally published its censorship policies. All 27 pages of them. The move, wrote the LA Times, “adds a new degree of transparency to a process that users, the public and advocates have criticized as arbitrary and opaque.” But as explored in the Independent Lens film The Cleaners, … READ MORE

Takeovers and Occupations: A Survey of American Mini-Rebellions and Political Stands

In the Independent Lens No Man’s Land, we get a fly on the wall sense of the tense armed takeover and 41-day standoff at Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge, led by rancher Ammon Bundy and his militia. Before it was all over, 26 people were arrested and charged with felony conspiracy against the government for their roles … READ MORE

Documentarian Ventures into the “No Man’s Land” of Malheur Takeover

Documentarian David Garrett Byars is making his feature film debut with No Man’s Land, but he’s made short films before. including Recapture, a short documentary chronicling the attempt of right-wing activists to reclaim the federally-managed Recapture Canyon in southern Utah. Clearly that experience informed–and provides a nice segue–to No Man’s Land, which provides a tense fly-on-the-wall … READ MORE

Director Finds Real Life Superheroes with “Conviction”

Filmmaker Jamie Meltzer, also the program director of the MFA program in Documentary Film at Stanford University, has made acclaimed films about a wide collection of topics, from song-poems to Nollywood (Nigerian) film to FBI informants, but each tells a very human and compelling story. And his new film, the Tribeca Special Jury Award-winning True … READ MORE

Balancing Along the Thin Blue Line, Filmmaker Captures Police Force at an Explosive Time

A follow-up to his acclaimed, Independent Spirit Truer than Fiction Award-winning film The Waiting Room (Independent Lens, 2013), Pete Nicks’ The Force is part of a trilogy of films he’s making which are ostensibly about Oakland, where he’s based, but in a much larger sense are also about wholly American institutions — a hospital emergency room (and … READ MORE

Dawn Porter Unlocks the Story of Laws Targeting Abortion Providers

Filmmaker Dawn Porter has shown a willingness to probe uncomfortable truths and untold stories in the past. LA Times critic Robert Lloyd called her acclaimed Independent Lens film Spies of Mississippi “eye-opening” for its look at the ways civil rights activists were spied on by the government in the ’50s and ’60s. For her new film, TRAPPED, Porter returns to the … READ MORE

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: What the Supreme Court Is Deciding in the Most Important Abortion Ruling in Decades (Updated)

By Marcia Coyle @MarciaCoyle Guest Contributor, National Law Journal By the end of this month, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide its first abortion case in nine years. At the center is reproductive healthcare provider Whole Woman’s Health, the subject of the upcoming Independent Lens film, TRAPPED. The ruling could be the most important abortion decision in more than 20 … READ MORE

Armed in America: Faith & Guns

Join PBS for a town hall conversation about gun violence and the moral obligation to prevent it. Armed in America: Faith & Guns, a one-hour special event moderated by award-winning journalist Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” explores the relationship between faith and guns in America. Reverend Rob Schenck and Lucy McBath participate in this conversation, along with … READ MORE