PBS Indies Shorts, a new collection of short films, working in partnership with its independent strand producers POV and us here at Independent Lens/Independent Television Service (ITVS), launched today. Over the coming months, the new site will showcase 26 original films commissioned for digital platforms, ranging in length from three to 20 minutes, and which were co-curated by PBS, POV, and Independent Lens to appeal to young, diverse, and social audiences. The short films are upbeat and innovative in both storyline and execution.
PBS also announced its popular Online Film Festival will return June 16-July 31, 2014, at pbs.org/filmfestival. For updates on the fest, follow #PBSolff on Twitter.
But meanwhile, six of the 26 short films are available today on all PBS digital platforms; the PBS mobile app; the PBS apps on Roku, AppleTV, and Xbox; YouTube; and PBS’s social media channels. And then four new films will premiere each month, beginning in April. Viewers can continue the conversation around these short films on Twitter at #PBSIndies. This presentation is made possible in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Weather Underground
As it’s Academy Award time again, where one feature documentary out of five worthy finalists is chosen as Best, it seemed fitting to take a trip down memory lane for that Oscar category in particular.
In honor of the fact that there have been 86 of these ceremonies now, I’ve created a few new, slightly more creative sub-categories of my own to tip the hat to past winners and nominees. On a historical note, it’s important to note that in the early days of the Feature Documentary category there were often very few nominees (the number varied wildly even within the WWII years, from a whopping 4 winners and 25 nominees the very first year of the category, in 1942, the peak of the wartime documentary effort). A number of these films, particularly the older ones of course, aren’t especially easy to find or see, even today.
At any rate, here are my choices for some of the best–and in some cases oddest–of the best, as it were, in quirky new categories that are completely made up.
March marches in with the second annual #SheDocs, an online film festival showcasing 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women and their accomplishments in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The fest is presented by ITVS’s Women and Girls Lead campaign, sponsored by Eileen Fisher, Inc., and features a host of Independent Lens films at the center.
Running March 1st-31st, the festival presents a collection of films by prominent independent filmmakers, with a special focus on women working to transform their lives, their communities, and the world. All 12 films are available free online on the Women and Girls Lead website. The films will be supported by nationwide online social screening events to inspire dialogue and deeper connection with the films.
20 Feet From Stardom
It was a good year for documentaries. Maybe we say that every year, but 2013 felt particularly strong. How can anyone keep track of all the excellent non-fiction films you need to see (and check off the ones you’ve already seen)? By using this handy-dandy List of the Lists, as it were. We’ve collected many of our favorite Best of 2013 lists here, but do go to the individual pages linked here for each writer/writers’ detailed recap of each film and list. (And if we missed any other good ones, feel free to add in the comments.)
And because we can’t help ourselves, we’ve bolded and noted any documentary that is an Independent Lens film.
First of all, our friends at POV have done an excellent job of compiling the most acclaimed (in terms of reviews and awards) documentaries of 2013, which they’ve frequently updated. We won’t list them all here right at the start (horn toot: 4 of the top 20 are Independent Lens films) but it’s a great place to start.
Posted in Awards, Lists
Tagged at berkeley, best documentaries, best of list, blood brother, god loves uganda, Let the Fire Burn, stories we tell, the act of killing, the square, trials of muhammad ali
Laura Garza Hovel’s debut, from Las Marthas
Laura and Rosario, the “stars” of the Independent Lens documentary Las Marthas, participated in a unique rite of passage, in an event they will no doubt never forget even as they leave it in the rear-view mirror. The film premieres tonight, Monday, February 17 on PBS at 10 PM (check local listings).
Want to know where these dynamic young women ended up next? Read on.
Filmmaker Cristina Ibarra
Cristina Ibarra’s critically-acclaimed documentary The Last Conquistador had a national broadcast on PBS’s P.O.V., and now she’s returning to PBS with Las Marthas, which premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 17 at 10 PM (check local listings). The Texas-raised filmmaker went back to her home state to capture a completely unique pageant rich in history and culture: the border city of Laredo’s month-long celebration of Washington’s birthday with inventive reenactments and bicultural celebrations, many of them involving their Mexican sister city, Nuevo Laredo, and the most preeminent event of them all, the invitation-only Colonial Ball hosted by the elite Society of Martha Washington.
Society daughters, most of them Mexican American, are invited to debut in elaborate Colonial gowns representing iconic figures from America’s revolutionary history, to reenact a ball thrown by America’s first First Lady. Las Marthas follows two of the young debutantes — one a prominent member of Laredo society and the other a newcomer from Mexico — as they prepare for this rite of passage.
The film is a recipient of the Tribeca Institute’s Heineken VOCES Documentary Award, as well as funding from LPB, Jerome Foundation, and Humanities Texas. ”Las Marthas is so expertly told that by the end of the movie you’re at the edge of your seat,” wrote Enrique Lopetegui in The San Antonio Current. We chatted with Ibarra as she awaited the film’s television premiere.
Today (Tuesday, February 11) at 6 pm PST on the OVEE site, we’re happy to present an encore screening of the film Spies of Mississippi online, featuring live comments from director Dawn Porter.
Rocky Braat (left) with Blood Brother filmmakers Steve Hoover and Danny Yourd
Those (many) of you who watched Steve Hoover’s documentary Blood Brother on Independent Lens are no doubt curious as to what the film’s central character (and what a character) Rocky Braat is up to these days. Well, we reached out to the filmmaker as a follow-up to our recent Q&A, and got the following update: