A Drone by Any Other Name: The Different Kinds of Drones

Drones are at the center of the new Independent Lens film National Bird (which premieres on PBS Monday, May 1 at 10; check local listings), though the documentary puts a very human face behind military drone operations, focusing on the post-traumatic stress stemming from participating in remote warfare. But for a word that comes up so often … READ MORE

Comedians Talk About Pushing Boundaries and Crossing Lines

Defining what is taboo in comedy is the central question of The Last Laugh, which premieres on Independent Lens Monday, April 24 — check local listings. What is out of bounds to talk about in comedy? The film features performers who are no strangers to pushing the limits, including Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Ross (Comedy Central’s “Roastmaster General”). … READ MORE

2017 Earth Day Watch List: 17 New Films About Sustainability and Climate Change

We count on indie filmmakers to sniff out the conspicuous absences in mainstream media. Journalist and investigative reporter Amy Goodman once said, “The role of independent media is to go to where the silence is.” To environmentalists and scientists, the silence around climate change is deafening. And as environmental themes and issues are always on … READ MORE

Ferne Pearlstein Asks Comedians and Survivors: What Is Off-Limits in Comedy?

“Somebody once said, ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy.’ And I always felt, why wait?” – Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, in The Last Laugh There have been many films about the Holocaust, many good and important and extremely necessary films, but The Last Laugh is likely the first to include comedians like Mel Brooks, Larry Charles, Judy … READ MORE

Growing Industry: Why Weed Seeds Are Giving Way to Pot Clones

In the Independent Lens doc SEED: The Untold Story [streaming now through May 1st], biodiversity evangelists travel the globe in search of as many seed varieties as they can bank in their vaults before they disappear. As we learn in the film, 94% of agricultural seed varieties have vanished over the last century. The critics … READ MORE

Banking on Seeds: Rare, Diverse, and Endangered

When National Geographic Magazine reported that about 94% of the world’s vegetable seeds circa 1903 are now missing from the Earth, Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz promptly started work on a feature-length documentary about the seed saving movement. The product of their labor, SEED: The Untold Story, premieres on Independent Lens, Monday, April 17 at … READ MORE

Filmmakers Share the Roots of their Seed Documentary

With SEED: The Untold Story, filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz complete a trilogy of sorts, after The Real Dirt on Farmer John and The New York Times Critic Pick Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us, of films that put a very human face on the intersection of agriculture and ecology. … READ MORE

Kim A. Snyder Tells Newtown Families’ Deeply Intimate Story

Filmmaker Kim Snyder is no stranger to having to patiently and empathetically ingratiate herself with a community. Her film Welcome to Shelbyville, which was nationally broadcast on Independent Lens, spent time in a small Tennessee town where its residents — whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis — grappled with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. … READ MORE

Healing Places: Rebuilding After a Community Tragedy

“The only thing tragedy gives us is the opportunity to rebuild our life.” -writer Paulo Coelho The film Newtown asks, “What remains after all is lost?” Some have said that it is much harder to rebuild oneself after experiencing an unconscionable tragedy than it is to physically rebuild a space on the site the tragedy happened. … READ MORE

Girl Power: The Original #SquadGoals (and Just #Goals in General)

In the Independent Lens documentary Ovarian Psycos (premiering Monday, March 27 at 10; check local listings), we’re introduced to The Ovas — a chicanx (xicanx) feminist group who bike through the streets of East L.A. in honor of sisterhood. While bike riding in solidarity is definitely an underground movement, womxn coming together to uplift and empower … 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