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

Ferne Pearlstein Asks Comedians and Survivors: What Is Off-Limits in Comedy?

“Somebody once said, ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy.’ And I always felt, why wait?” – Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, in The Last Laugh There have been many films about the Holocaust, many good and important and extremely necessary films, but The Last Laugh is likely the first to include comedians like Mel Brooks, Larry Charles, Judy … READ MORE

Growing Industry: Why Weed Seeds Are Giving Way to Pot Clones

In the Independent Lens doc SEED: The Untold Story [streaming now through May 1st], biodiversity evangelists travel the globe in search of as many seed varieties as they can bank in their vaults before they disappear. As we learn in the film, 94% of agricultural seed varieties have vanished over the last century. The critics … READ MORE

Banking on Seeds: Rare, Diverse, and Endangered

When National Geographic Magazine reported that about 94% of the world’s vegetable seeds circa 1903 are now missing from the Earth, Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz promptly started work on a feature-length documentary about the seed saving movement. The product of their labor, SEED: The Untold Story, premieres on Independent Lens, Monday, April 17 at … READ MORE

Filmmakers Share the Roots of their Seed Documentary

With SEED: The Untold Story, filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz complete a trilogy of sorts, after The Real Dirt on Farmer John and The New York Times Critic Pick Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us, of films that put a very human face on the intersection of agriculture and ecology. … READ MORE