Independent Lens Announces New Fall Slate

Kelby and friends, Tuttle, Oklahoma, in Bully

From Bully

On the heels of receiving ten News and Documentary Emmy nominations, Independent Lens announced today that its new season will open with the critically-acclaimed documentary Bully. Directed by Sundance and Emmy Award-winner Lee Hirsch, the film brings human scale to this emotional issue, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation has touched the lives of five kids and their families. Bully premieres on Monday, October 13, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.

This fall Independent Lens takes viewers around the globe to explore fascinating human stories, from a tale of twins growing up a world apart, to the role that Japanese cultural attitudes may have played in a devastating train crash, to what will happen in a remote Bhutanese village when television comes to town.
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From Playwright: Rest in peace, Robin Williams, you tiger.

We are as saddened as everyone about the sudden death of actor and comedian extraordinaire Robin Williams. He was one of a kind, and will truly be missed. We were reminded of his participation in last season’s Playwright: From Page to Stage, as a performer in the New York production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. We give you this video extra featuring Williams rehearsing for the part of, yes, a tiger and tiger’s ghost, a role that now takes on quite a bit of added poignancy.

More viewing and reading:

Watch some of Robin’s best stand-up comedy moments and more (via LAist).

Thoughts from Noel Murray of The Dissolve.

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Around the World in Many Ways with Global Voices

From Here Comes Uncle Joe: Uncle Joe smiles in front of truck.

From Here Comes Uncle Joe

By Misa Oyama, ITVS Staff

Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood has provoked a lot of interest in its intriguing premise and the background of its production: follow the growth of a character over twelve years, not with different actors, but with the same person as he ages in real time. This is the first time that a narrative film has had the patience to tackle the kind of project well-known in the documentary world. Most notably, Michael Apted’s Up series follows the same people over the course of a lifetime, beginning with a group of 7-year-old British schoolchildren in 1964 and revisiting them every seven years; the most recent installment explores their lives at the age of 56. Filming over a span of years gives audiences a true sense of the passing of time.

Like these films, three documentaries in this summer’s Global Voices series approach the subject of growth and aging, despite vastly different cultural contexts. Each one explores a significant period in a person’s life, from young adulthood to middle age to the final years. You can see a lifetime in My So-Called EnemyMy Perestroika [both available to watch online], and Here Comes Uncle Joe [airing on the WORLD Channel August 31st].

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Archival Treasures

Landing on the moon

We all know the internet is a treasure trove of information (some of it even accurate!), resources, and media. But increasingly it’s become an even more amazing educational tool which brings history alive.

In the age long before reality TV, and even before the term “cinéma vérité” was bandied about more commonly in documentary circles, newsreels and educational films were in large part how people were given glimpses of real life —including real life well outside of their own comfy circles.

Those wanting to learn more both about history, particularly the history of documentary film, will want to bookmark these invaluable resources, starting with “the nation’s record keeper”:

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Summertime Throwback Thursdays

Summer Pasture

Thursdays are already a pretty cool day, given their proximity to Friday and the weekend. They’re even cooler with “Throwback Thursdays,” because who doesn’t love going retro?

For Throwback Thursdays this summer, we dig into the Independent Lens archives each week for the revival of a previously aired, fan favorite film. The “throwback” docs are available for one week only, so take advantage while you can.

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Independent Lens Nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmys


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced this year’s nominees for the 35th annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking.  And Independent Lens is proud to say that 7 of our documentaries received 10 nominations for 2013.

PBS received a total of 43 nominations — most for any network — including 11 noms for FRONTLINE and 6 for POV, so it’s a great day all around for public media documentaries. The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014, in New York City.

“These Emmy nominations are a testament to the exemplary journalism that independent documentary filmmakers practice,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Deputy Executive Producer. “They reflect the extraordinary vitality and diversity of our vibrant independent documentary community.”

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From RealScreen: Archive masterclass on making “Let the Fire Burn”

The aftermath of the fire on Osage Avenue in May, 1985.  Let the Fire Burn.

Super piece by Adam Benzine on Let the Fire Burn‘s extensive, exhaustive archival process, with insight from filmmaker Jason Osder: “Archive masterclass: Making Let the Fire Burn.”  The film had its television premiere on Independent Lens in May.

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PBS Online Film Festival (Including Independent Lens Shorts)



For the third year running, the PBS Online Film Festival is happening as we speak. Two excellent short films are representing Independent Lens as part of the line-up: Tryouts, by Susana Casares [official site], and Border Bedazzlers, by Grace Jackson [official Facebook page].

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The Winner of 2013-2014 Independent Lens Audience Award Is…

Don't Stop Believin' Audience Award Winner

The votes are in and Independent Lens viewers have spoken! Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey is the winner of the Independent Lens 2013-2014 Audience Award. Congratulations to filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz and her team. The music-filled film [official site] about Journey’s new lead singer Arnel Pineda’s hard road to stardom charmed both fans of the band and those much less familiar with the story.

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POV Season Premiere!

When I Walk

When I Walk

While the 2013-2014 Independent Lens season has now wound down to a close (the final film of the season The New Black just had its broadcast premiere last week), we’re not going to hang our heads about it. Namely, because as we transition into a break, our friends at POV are just heating up for summer, with another fantastic season of acclaimed documentaries. The 27th season of POV begins today, Monday, June 23, 2014 at 10 pm (check local listings) on PBS and continues with regular broadcasts through September 2014. As always, (and to borrow from the POV blog), the “POV slate features films from around the globe that are a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.”

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