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TOPIC: Social Justice

Erika Cohn Unfolds a New Perception of Shari’a Law in Portrait of Remarkable Woman

Erika Cohn, who co-directed (with Tony Vainuku) the Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens doc In Football We Trust, went from the gridiron in Utah to the Shari’a courts of Palestine for her follow-up film The Judge, the story of the first-ever female judge in Palestine’s religious courts. The film is “a welcome femme-empowered portrait of an inspirational female … 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

The Toll: Wildland Firefighters Share Stories from the Job

Fallen firefighter Robert E. Caldwell, a Granite Mountain hotshot who perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, said to a comrade, “I’d rather die in my boots than live in a suit.” It would seem one would have to have that mentality to purposely choose such a dangerous vocation. It is a calling, but … READ MORE

Filmmakers Turned Firefighters Venture Behind the Lines in “Wildland”

Filmmaker Alex Jablonski and his filmmaking partner Khalil Hudson had quite the arduous, smoke-filled journey to make the film Wildland. The documentary premieres on Independent Lens Monday, Oct. 29. Alex told us that Wildland started with a question: How do young men grow up? “We always wanted to tell a story about wildland firefighters but it was … 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

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

Laura Dunn Draws From Wendell Berry for Look at Rural America

Laura Dunn’s first feature documentary, The Unforeseen, executive produced by Robert Redford and Terrence Malick, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, aired on the Sundance Channel, and was called “a poetic and high-minded meditation on American developers’ manifest destiny and the cancer it introduces into the natural world,” by critic David Edelstein. It explored a … READ MORE