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TOPIC: Crime

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

“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

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

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

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

Ben Lear Shows Reality and Human Face of Juvenile Justice System

They Call Us Monsters is Ben Lear’s first film as director, but he’s not new to the business. Yes, Ben is the son of trailblazing TV producer-writer Norman Lear of All in the Family and Good Times fame (and you can read more about their relationship and how proud they are of each other in this … READ MORE

The Prison Economy: How Do Prisons Affect the Places We Live?

The Independent Lens film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes examines the effect prisons have on the communities around them in both positive and negative ways. Prisons can stimulate the economy and create jobs, but they also loom monolithically over our lives. The United States locks up a lot of people. Our prison population rate of roughly … READ MORE

Canadian Filmmaker Explores American Prison System’s Long Reach

Canadian filmmaker Brett Story was recently awarded the inaugural New Visions Award from Canada’s DOC Institute, who wrote of her, “Watching Story’s socially engaged but visually driven work provides ample evidence that she was an obvious choice for the award, given to an emerging professional filmmaker who demonstrates a keen artistic sensibility and potential to lead … READ MORE

Filmmaker James Solomon Peels Back the Mythology of the Kitty Genovese Story

The Witness (which premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens Monday, January 23, 2017; check local listings) may be James Solomon’s first film as director, but his vast experience as a storyteller made him the perfect fit for reopening this case. The Witness, which made the Oscar shortlist, took 11 years to make, patiently following Kitty Genovese’s brother … READ MORE