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

Forever Pure: Updates on the Main Players

Check out this gallery of updates from the past year on all the main players featured in Forever Pure, from former owner Arcadi Gaydamak to players Zaur Sadayev, Dzhabrail Kadiyev, and Ariel Harush, to coach Eli Cohen, and the La Familia fan group. Click on any image for a slideshow:

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

Maya Zinshtein Explores How Soccer and Racism Intersected in Israel

Israeli journalist-filmmaker Maya Zinshtein is in many ways the perfect person to make a film about the combustible story of Beitar Jerusalem FC, the Israeli soccer club which imploded when bringing in two foreign Muslim players led to boycotts and threats from the anti-Muslim, rabidly racist fan group La Familia. Zinshtein is herself an “outsider” … 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

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

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