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

Kim A. Snyder Tells Newtown Families’ Deeply Intimate Story

Filmmaker Kim Snyder is no stranger to having to patiently and empathetically ingratiate herself with a community. Her film Welcome to Shelbyville, which was nationally broadcast on Independent Lens, spent time in a small Tennessee town where its residents — whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis — grappled with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. … READ MORE

Healing Places: Rebuilding After a Community Tragedy

“The only thing tragedy gives us is the opportunity to rebuild our life.” -writer Paulo Coelho The film Newtown asks, “What remains after all is lost?” Some have said that it is much harder to rebuild oneself after experiencing an unconscionable tragedy than it is to physically rebuild a space on the site the tragedy happened. … READ MORE

Girl Power: The Original #SquadGoals (and Just #Goals in General)

In the Independent Lens documentary Ovarian Psycos (premiering Monday, March 27 at 10; check local listings), we’re introduced to The Ovas — a chicanx (xicanx) feminist group who bike through the streets of East L.A. in honor of sisterhood. While bike riding in solidarity is definitely an underground movement, womxn coming together to uplift and empower … READ MORE

Ovarian Psycos Filmmakers Follow the Ovas Bike Brigade in East L.A.

Ovarian Psycos brought together filmmakers Joanna Sokolowski, who co-produced the Emmy® Award-winning HBO documentary Very Semi-Serious (2015), about New Yorker cartoonists, and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who first began in the field of social justice media as an educator and media maker. They collaborated to tell the story of the “Ovas,” a raucous, irreverently … READ MORE

9 Great Documentaries About Women Activists

As Women’s History Month continues, we’re shining the spotlight on women activists who faced down injustice, pioneered paths for other women and girls, or have fought heroically trying to save the world. Although the women on this list focused on different arenas, in the end they’re all inevitably linked. As feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote … READ MORE

Principal Vonda Viland and 10 of the Most Unforgettable “Bad Kids”

The following is by Vonda Viland, principal of Black Rock Continuation High School in Yucca Valley in California’s Mojave Desert, and subject of the new film The Bad Kids, which premieres on Independent Lens March 20 at 10pm [check local listings]. Viland’s tireless work to help at-risk teenagers find their way to graduation is reflected both … READ MORE

Meet the Trailblazers of Documentary Activism

We think of the cinema of activism in documentary filmmaking as a relatively modern phenomenon, something first awakened in the 1960s and 1970s and popularized by the likes of Michael Moore and Laura Poitras and Alex Gibney. But the success films like Bowling for Columbine (2002) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006), both Oscar winners and box-office … READ MORE

10 Great Animated Documentaries

Keith Maitland’s animated documentary TOWER [on Independent Lens Tuesday, February 14 at 10pm; check local listings] has left critics and awards-voting bodies alike flummoxed as to how best to categorize it. This is a visionary work, no doubt, that uses voice-actors and vintage audio to reconstruct what happened back in 1966 when a sniper shot dozens of … READ MORE