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TOPIC: Social Justice

Meet Your Guides to the Shady Global Arms Trade of Shadow World

Shadow World is in many senses an epic film, that (as Ian McQuaid wrote in The Ransom Note) “draws together a sordid tale of corruption, violence, and greed that sprawls across decades and continents… the documentary covers the full, hideous spectrum of half a century of arms manufacturing.” The “superbly edited, angry documentary about the global arms trade” … READ MORE

Independent Lens 2017-2018 Season Launches With Award-Winning Slate

Independent Lens’ new season is here and so take a peek at the unforgettable, award-winning films that make up the first half of the 2017-2018 slate. We open on Monday, November 6 with Chasing Trane, John Scheinfeld’s portrait of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, featuring Denzel Washington speaking the words of Coltrane. Other highlights of the Fall 2017-Winter 2018 lineup include Raoul … READ MORE

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

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

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

The new film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, premiering on PBS, Monday, May 8 [check local listings], 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 … READ MORE

Ovarian Psycos Filmmakers Follow the Ovas Bike Brigade in East L.A.

Ovarian Psycos brought together filmmakers Joanna Sokolowski, who co-produced the Emmy® Award-winning HBO documentary Very Semi-Serious (2015), about New Yorker cartoonists, and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who first began in the field of social justice media as an educator and media maker. They collaborated to tell the story of the “Ovas,” a raucous, irreverently … 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

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