Independent Lens returns this fall with a new season of documentaries that tell unforgettable stories of courage and resilience, explore the most pressing issues of our time, and take viewers on journeys around the world. Having recently received 11 News & Documentary Emmy nominations (with two wins) and one Primetime Emmy nomination, Independent Lens opens with a special co-presentation with FRONTLINE of the film Immigration Battle on October 20, and then launches its regular season on Monday, November 9, with Stray Dog, acclaimed director Debra Granik’s stereotype-shattering portrait of Vietnam veteran Ron Hall.

“We are delighted to return this fall with an exciting new slate of films that tackle fundamental issues with rich, character-driven storytelling,” said Lois Vossen, newly elevated Executive Producer of Independent Lens. “The work of independent documentary filmmakers continues to receive wide recognition for its merit and journalistic excellence, contributing greatly to the number of News and Documentary Emmy nominations PBS receives. And this season we’re looking forward to additional support from PBS, which has renewed its commitment to independent film by increasing social media marketing and more funding to acquire streaming rights, allowing us to compete more effectively in the marketplace. We’re also pleased to have been recognized by a recent study from American University, which pointed out that documentaries on Independent Lens and POV bring greater racial and gender diversity to PBS, which goes to the heart of public television’s mission.”

Additional films premiering in the 2015-16 season include Stanley Nelson’s Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party and its significance to the broader American culture, which PBS Distribution opened theatrically in September 2015; East of Salinas, the inspiring story of a bright young student and his teacher, both sons of migrant farm workers; and Autism in Love, which explores the lives of four adults with autism as they pursue and manage romantic relationships. Also premiering in 2016 is the real-life romantic comedy Meet the Patels, and In Football We Trust, which explores the remarkable story behind the Polynesian pipeline to the NFL.

Along with the slate, Independent Lens also announces that our neighborhood film screening series and community engagement program has been rebranded as Indie Lens Pop-Up. “We wanted to strengthen the bonds between our series and the local screenings that are taking place in communities around the country,” Vossen stated. “Indie Lens Pop-Up is a great name to reflect the energy that is going on around these events, which take place at public libraries, coffee houses and university campuses, and are driven by the desire of people everywhere to come together to watch a film and be drawn into these rich conversations.” Indie Lens Pop-Up selections from the upcoming Independent Lens season include Stray Dog, Mimi and Dona, Autism in Love, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and In Football We Trust.

Season teaser trailer:

Below is the schedule for Independent Lens through December 2015.

Biker Ronnie "Stray Dog" Hall watches a kid eat a watermelon.
Ron “Stray Dog” Hall at a family barbecue in Debra Granik’s Stray Dog

Stray Dog director Debra Granik met Ron Hall while making her Academy Award-nominated feature Winter’s Bone. The film follows Hall, known as “Stray Dog,” as he caravans on his motorcycle from his rural Missouri home to Washington, D.C. with fellow vets to pay tribute to their fallen brothers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Back home, he forges a new life of domesticity with his Mexican wife Alicia and her two sons, who are also struggling to find their place in the ever-changing hardscrabble heartland of America. Airs Monday, November 9, 2015 at 10 p.m. 

Vigil for rape victims in India, in India's Daughter
A young woman at a vigil for Jyoti Singh in Leslee Udwin’s India’s Daughter

India’s Daughter, directed by Leslee Udwin, pays tribute to the remarkable short life of Jyoti Singh and documents the brutality of her gang rape and murder in Delhi in December 2012. Her horrifying ordeal and tragic death sparked riots in the streets of Indian cities, leading to changes in the country’s law and what activists hope will be widespread change in the way women are allowed to live their lives in India’s patriarchal society. Recently in the headlines for being banned in India, this powerful film explores the compelling human stories behind the incident and examines the root causes of violence against women in India. Airs Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10 p.m.

Mimi and Dona Thornton, 1981
Mimi and Dona Thornton, 1981

Mimi and Dona explores an unforgettable story of familial love and heartbreaking choices. What happens when love runs out of time? For 92-year-old Mimi, who has spent her life caring for 64-year-old Dona, a daughter with an intellectual disability, it means facing the inevitable — the likelihood that she will not outlive her daughter and the need to find her a new home. This poignant and sometimes humorous documentary traces the story of a wonderfully quirky and deeply connected mother-daughter duo — filmmaker Sophie Sartain’s grandmother and aunt. Airs Monday, November 23, 2015 at 10:30 p.m.

Jose Anzaldo - a migrant child, standing at the front of a farm's rows of crops
José Ansaldo, East of Salinas

East of Salinas is the story of a bright boy and his dedicated teacher — both sons of migrant farm workers. With parents who are busy working long hours in the fields, third grader José Ansaldo often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, for guidance. But José was born in Mexico, and he’s on the cusp of understanding what that means for his future. For José and many migrant children like him, the film poses the question: What is lost when promising kids are denied opportunities through no fault of their own? Airs Monday, December 28, 2015 at 10 p.m.