#tbt Throwback Thursday Streaming Returns to Indie Lens

Promotional graphic showing hashtag TBT and Independent Lens logo.
While we put the finishing touches on our slate of exciting fall films, here’s your chance to catch up on recent Indie Lens hits. From the world’s wealthiest address to the serene monasteries of the Himalayas to the rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale of a lifetime, indulge your doc appetite for five consecutive weeks of encore streaming every #tbt. Check below for availability.

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Independent Lens Nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmys

Poster card announcing Indie Lens nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmy Awards, including Best Documentary for The Trials of Muhammad Ali and Bully

On the heels of the Primetime Emmy Award nomination for The Great Invisible, Independent Lens learned today that our series received 10 (count ’em, ten!) nominations for the 36th annual News & Doc Emmys, including three nominations for The Trials of Muhammad Ali and two for Bully, both films garnering a nom for Best Documentary. All told, PBS nabbed an Emmy-leading 57 nominations for Independent Lens, POV (American Promise, Fallen City, and When I Walk), FRONTLINE, American Experience, Nature, as well as many excellent stand-alone programs.

Here’s the full list of Emmy-nominated films that aired on Independent Lens: Continue reading

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The Great Invisible Nominated for 2015 Emmy Award

2015 Emmy Award logo

We were excited to learn today that the Independent Lens film The Great Invisible, which aired on PBS in April, was just nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit for Documentary Filmmaking. Kudos to director Margaret Brown and her whole team for the honor. The Hollywood Reporter called The Great Invisible “a powerful documentary that reminds those of us who’ve moved on to other worries that [the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill] is far from finished.”

Emmy winners will be revealed September 20. A full list of all nominees is here.

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Last Chance to Watch 2015 PBS Online Film Festival

PBS Online Film Festival 2015 graphic

The 2015 PBS Online Film Festival returned last month with a new, excellent batch of short fictional, documentary, and animated films created by a host of gifted filmmakers in partnership with PBS member stations, POV, and other public television producers. Make sure to catch this diverse slate so you can vote for your favorites before the festival closes on July 17.

Here’s a quick glimpse of all 25 short films available. After you watch each film, remember to vote! Continue reading

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And the Winner of the 2014-2015 Independent Lens Audience Award Is…

The winner of this season’s Independent Lens Audience Award, as chosen by voting viewers, is…. Kumu Hina!

Congratulatory image saluting Kumu Hina, winner of the 2015 Independent Lens Audience Award

Interestingly, Kumu Hina is not the first Independent Lens film to win the Audience Award that is about hula dance: Men of Hula won the award in 2008.

We heard from Kumu Hina filmmaker Dean Hamer, understandably ecstatic about the news:

The Kuma Hina team is thrilled and humbled to receive this award from Independent Lens viewers. It’s a wonderful reflection on the commitment of PBS and Pacific Islanders in Communications to bring forward voices that are rarely heard in American media and to reach audiences that are not served anywhere else. For all the native Hawaiians and indigenous peoples around the world, for all the māhū and those who fall outside the Western gender binary, we say mahalo nui loa – thank you – and aloha – love, honor and respect for all.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting, and for watching Independent Lens this past season. We bet the competition for next year’s Audience Award will be just as tough and close as this year’s.

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Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization Rises Again

Editor’s note: While these aren’t Independent Lens films of course, the Decline films are some of our very favorite music docs, make for perfect summertime viewing, and are finally all out together on DVD. Read on for critic Noel Murray’s exclusive take on them, and a few more of his own favorites.

Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris surrounded by Poison (the band), in Decline of Western Civilization III the Metal Years

Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris surrounded by Poison (the band)

By Noel Murray

Each of director Penelope Spheeris’ three Decline of Western Civilization documentaries contains a moment where the various punk and metal bands featured in the films stand on the stage and read a disclaimer to the audience, warning them that by attending the show, they’re consenting to being photographed. Spheeris and her editors cut all the announcements together, being sure to keep in any moment where the men and women at the microphone insult their fans or mock the entire Decline project. These scenes are important, because they cut to the heart of what Spheeris’ films are all about: the flippant anti-authoritarianism of youth culture, the illusion that rockers and their fans are on the same level, and the disturbing awareness that being an anarchic rebel can only carry a person so far.

This week, Shout! Factory is releasing the three Declines in DVD and Blu-ray box sets, answering the demand from documentary devotees and music buffs who’ve been waiting for Spheeris to clear up any lingering rights issues and get her best work back out on home video. Watched in succession, 1981’s The Decline of Western Civilization, 1988’s The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, and 1998’s The Decline of Western Civilization III tell a story about 20 years of life in the Los Angeles music scene — functioning almost like a rock musical version of Michael Apted’s Up series. It’s not just the announcement montage that these three have in common. They share a point of view, and a generosity of spirit that gives their subjects the benefit of the doubt whether they’re begging in the streets or living in a mansion.

Below are key moments from each of the Decline films, which help define both what they’re about individually, and how they all fit together. Continue reading

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Tony Sullivan and Limited Partnership Producer React to Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

Tony Sullivan (wearing red glasses) and husband the late Richard Adams, of Limited Partnership

Tony Sullivan (at left) and husband Richard Adams

Naturally, when news of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality came down, a 5-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage, our thoughts immediately turned to the makers and main character of Limited Partnership.

We heard from the film’s co-producer Kirk Marcolina, and from Tony Sullivan, who with his longtime partner Richard Adams become one of the first same sex couples to be legally married in the world, in 1975. That marriage was challenged legally and they battled the government in the courts for years, in large part leading up to the Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage in June 2013 and again this month.  Their reactions to Friday’s momentous news: Continue reading

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19 Memorable Faces of Independent Lens’ 2014-15 Season

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than unleash many more words on you, here’s a photo gallery reminding you of some of the memorable faces from this just-concluded season of Independent Lens. We thank you for spending time with us over the past few months.

Peyangki and mother, in Happiness        John and Bonnie Raines, and their children, late '60s, before  the 1971 Citizens to Investigate the FBI break-in      Trey, Ty's best friend, Perkins, Oklahoma      Young Darius Clark Monroe, in bow tie, in front of family, in photograph shown in Evolution of a Criminal        Choreographer Elizabeth Streb, wearing trademark dark framed glasses, interviewed in Born to Fly        Pfc. Adam Winfield, from The Kill Team        Andrew, from Rich Hill        Jessica Posner Odede, at work in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya        Loha Singh, peering between a mass of wires in Kanpur India, in Powerless        Kumu Hina, with student Ho'onani, during Hawaiian culture class        From Through a Lens Darkly, black and white art photo of masculine and feminine people split screen         Young African American man is put up against chain link fence and frisked by undercover cops, from recreation in the film American Denial    littlehope-lookeehere          Hiroshi Ueda mourns his son, who died in the crash of West Japan Railways Train 5418M., Brakeless Twin Sisters (Mia visits Alexandra in Fresvik, Norway)           From Little White Lie: Lacey Schwartz as a child, walking with her mother om leafy path           oil-shrimp-tgi              Kasey reads a book in study, sitting outside on steps, from documentary Homestretch  Tony Sullivan and Richard Adams   take pics of themselves in a photobooth, 1970s; from Limited Partnership
Peyangki and mother, in Happiness
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Time to Vote! Independent Lens 2014-2015 Audience Award

Vote for the Independent Lens 2014-15 season Audience Award

The Independent Lens 2014-2015 season may have ended, but the Audience Award is heating up.

Rate and vote for your favorite films from this past season on our Audience Awards page. In order to avoid ballot box stuffing, once your vote is recorded for a given film, you will not be able to vote for it again from the same ISP.  Rate all the films you watched using the star rating system.

Deadline for voting is Monday, June 29. We will close all voting at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET.

Last season’s winner was Don’t Stop Believin’, and the year before that it was The Revisionaries. Who will be this year’s viewer’s choice? Tune back in here in a week to find out!

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In the Shadow of Ebola Takes You to Liberia for One Family’s Story

Liberian workers in hazmat suits carry coffin holding ebola victimIndependent Lens presents the premiere online of In the Shadow of Ebola [watch now], a gripping short film set around the height of the Ebola crisis, but told from a highly personal point of view. The documentary by Gregg Mitman and Sarita Siegel is the story of Emmanuel Urey, a Liberian going to school in Wisconsin but who was in Monrovia with some of his children when the Ebola virus broke out. The film is both an intimate portrait of a family in the center of a terrifying crisis, but also a fascinating look at how a country in the aftermath of a long civil war handled a major health scare.

Now, a year after the events depicted in the film, find out where life has taken the Ureys, the status of Ebola across western Africa, and the new project filmmakers Mitman and Siegel are wrapping in Liberia.

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