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TOPIC: Youth & Family

Telling the Incredible True Story of a Dogsledding Legend

Filmmaker Catharine Axley seeks stories of empowerment through subjects that defy expectations, and the lesser-known but remarkable story of George Attla certainly qualifies. Axley’s film ATTLA, which won Best Feature Documentary at the American Indian Film Festival, looks at the charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero … READ MORE

Decade of Fire Filmmakers Change the Narrative About the South Bronx

The three-headed team as it were, of co-directors Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran, and producer Julia Steele Allen, each brought something different and special to the table in the making of the film Decade of Fire, which tells the shocking but untold piece of American urban history, when the South Bronx was on fire … READ MORE

“A Scene I’ll Never Forget.” Filmmaker Intimately Captures Surrogacy Journey in Boise

Emmy and Peabody-winning producer/director Beth Aala has gone from a Pool Party (her first film as director) filled with amazing music, the story of how a swimming pool became the center of a music scene in Brooklyn, to co-directing (with actor Mike Myers) Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, a portrayal of a legendary talent agent, to tracking an … READ MORE

Surrogacy Facts and Myths: How Much Do You Know?

By Lennlee Keep In 2018, over 100 children were born in Boise, Idaho, through surrogacy. The story behind this unique baby boom is explored in the Independent Lens documentary Made in Boise, an intimate look at how surrogates and parents are coming together to create new bonds and unique families. Surrogacy is widely misunderstood and … READ MORE

Game On: Why We Are Playing Board Games More Than Ever

By Lennlee Keep It was the summer of 1979 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Everyone in my family gets a sunburn when we even think about a beach, so we are very indoorsy. My 11-year-old brother Rob had a new game: Dungeons & Dragons. He studied the dragon-decorated guide books and painted teeny metal elves with paint … READ MORE

Filmmakers Capture Young Men Wrestling to Succeed and Be Seen

The story of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School–a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools–and their tough-love coach coming to terms with his own past, Wrestle is “superb,” wrote Kenneth Turan in the LA Times. “Just as sports mirror society, so do the best sports films not only take us inside games and those who play them but also provide insight into our world and how it works.” He rightly adds, “One reason Wrestle is so effective is that [the directors] and cinematographer Sinisa Kukic made the decision to move to Huntsville for the duration of the shoot. What resulted was not only 650 hours of footage but the benefit of countless additional time spent just hanging out with the protagonists.”

Herbert and co-director Belfer spoke to us about how they came to make this film and that decision to move to Alabama for a long while, as well as how the kids are doing today.  READ MORE

High School Coaches Wear Many Hats to Make an Impact

Driving kids home from practice, taking them to visit colleges, running and lifting weights with them out of season, answering the phone in the middle of the night when something has gone wrong — these are just a few of the many roles sports coaches take on for their players. The player/coach relationship can be special, as seen in the film Wrestle, it can be a chance for young people to connect with a mentor who knows them individually and pushes them through their struggles. 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

An Update from Elizabeth Perez

Note: Elizabeth Perez, star of David Sutherland’s film Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (a co-presentation of Independent Lens, FRONTLINE, and Voces), wrote us a heartfelt update about how she, her husband Marcos, and their family are doing. Here’s Elizabeth with more: I guess it’s kind of like a journal. I hope it’s not too long. … 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