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TOPIC: Civil Rights

Stepping Up for Homeless Black People in Oakland

By Pendarvis Harshaw The Independent Lens documentary Charm City brings to mind the long list of urban American cities that fall into the same category as the Baltimore seen in that film: Detroit, Newark, Compton, and Oakland, to name a few. They’re all post-industrial towns, where the closure of factories, underfunding of public education and … READ MORE

Filmmaker Spotlights Unsung Neighbors Lifting Up Baltimore

Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont Award-winning filmmaker, who has produced films like the acclaimed Cameraperson (dir. Kirsten Johnson), which was released by the Criterion Collection and shortlisted for an Oscar; Trapped (dir. Dawn Porter; Independent Lens), which won a Peabody; and the Independent Lens film 1971, which was nominated for an Emmy. … READ MORE

Acclaimed Filmmaker David Sutherland Tells the Story of a Family Torn Apart by Deportation

David Sutherland takes his time to tell a story, both in the years he spends with his subject, the amount of footage he shoots, and the ultimate running time — which always feels earned.  His film Country Boys took seven years to bring to fruition as Sutherland returned again and again to the hills of Appalachian … READ MORE

The Challenge of Making a Film About Racist Relics

Filmmaker and teacher Chico Colvard’s first feature doc, Family Affair, premiered at Sundance and was the first film acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her cable channel, OWN. The searingly personal documentary explored his family’s own troubled history that ultimately had a message of forgiveness and resilience. While his new film Black Memorabilia is less personal, it maintains … READ MORE

Three Things About “The King,” with Eugene Jarecki and Steven Soderbergh

Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki’s pedigree is impressive. He has twice won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Peabody Award for: The House I Live In, his 2013 film about America’s War on Drugs (which had its broadcast premiere on Independent Lens); and for his 2005 film about American foreign policy, Why We Fight. … READ MORE

Documentarians Meet the Real People Behind a Media Firestorm

Documentarians Reuben Atlas and Sam Pollard picked a hefty, complex, but as it turned out incredibly timely subject to collaborate on. The film ACORN and the Firestorm looks at the downfall of the huge community organizing non-profit ACORN, brought about by right-wing journalists’ covert video sting, and the ensuing media frenzy. Sam Pollard has made … 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

“Sentencing Children”: A 7-Part Series

Watch our seven-part, Webby Award-nominated series on juvenile sentencing laws, “Sentencing Children.” “Sentencing Children” was produced by Dan Birman and Independent Lens. This series is part of Independent Lens‘s commitment to fostering collaboration between filmmakers and journalists. “Sentencing Children” was originally published by The Tennessean newspaper, and tells the stories of Cyntoia Brown and other incarcerated juveniles … READ MORE

Peter Bratt Feels the Calling to Tell Dolores Huerta’s Story

Filmmaker Peter Bratt‘s first feature Follow Me Home, a San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award winner, was produced with his brother Benjamin Bratt, which they followed with the heartfelt indie film La Mission, shot on location in their hometown of San Francisco,  “an honest attempt to portray the destructiveness of violence in the Latino community” (Hollywood Reporter). … READ MORE

Filmmaker Theo Anthony’s Ratty Exploration of Urban Segregation

In the New York Times critics’ pick review of Theo Anthony’s Rat Film, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote: “Equal parts disturbing and humorous, informative and bizarre, Rat Film is a brilliantly imaginative and formally experimental essay on how Baltimore has dealt with its rat problem and manipulated its black population.” She continues, “Anthony shines as much light on racist urban … READ MORE