Filmmaker Theo Anthony’s Ratty Exploration of Urban Segregation

In the New York Times critics’ pick review of Theo Anthony’s Rat Film, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote: “Equal parts disturbing and humorous, informative and bizarre, Rat Film is a brilliantly imaginative and formally experimental essay on how Baltimore has dealt with its rat problem and manipulated its black population.” She continues, “Anthony shines as much light on racist urban … READ MORE

10 Questions with “Rat Film” Composer Dan Deacon: On Baltimore, Rats, Player Pianos and Theremins

Baltimore-based composer/musician Dan Deacon did the music for Theo Anthony’s Rat Film. The film, which uses the urban rat as a way to explore a deeper story of urbanization and segregation, is a unique blend of history, science and sci-fi, poetry and portraiture. And Deacon’s music, also a unique blend of styles, genres and instruments … READ MORE

HBCU Grads Share Their Stories of Campus Life

Graduates of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are proud alums, and with the release of the new Independent Lens film Tell Them We Are Rising [premiering Feb. 19 at 9pm; check local listings], which tells the 170 years—and rising—history of HBCUs, we found a few who were happy to tell their own stories of life … READ MORE

For “Winnie”: Anti-Apartheid Songs of Protest

By Sarah Bardeen, guest contributor Modern South Africa was forged in apartheid. The struggle defined life for generations of South Africans, and music was crucial in that struggle. Black South Africans saw their guns confiscated, their homes bulldozed, their land stolen, but in the mouths of demonstrators, song became both a balm and a weapon. … READ MORE

Filmmakers Marco Williams and Stanley Nelson Tell an Essential Chapter of American History in Story of HBCUs

Tell Them We Are Rising, which premieres on Independent Lens on PBS Monday, February 19 at 9 pm [check local listings], covers the rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) from before the end of slavery through a flourishing in the 20th century to today, and how they profoundly influenced the course of … READ MORE

How a Chinese Filmmaker Ended up in Florida with a Drifter from Utah

Nanfu Wang was a student at NYU when she went exploring America, which found her in Florida staying at a hostel. There she encountered a young drifter named Dylan, whom she found fascinating enough to start filming, capturing his experiences living on the streets while she stayed right there with him. But then she went … READ MORE

Independent Lens Announces Spring 2018 Slate of Award-Winning Films

Independent Lens, which recently won the 2017 IDA Documentary Award for Best Curated Series from the International Documentary Association, now officially announces our March-May 2018 lineup on PBS. Dolores, Peter Bratt’s highly-acclaimed film about activist Dolores Huerta premieres March 27; other highlights include documentaries that dig deep into recent news stories including No Man’s Land, … READ MORE

Balancing Along the Thin Blue Line, Filmmaker Captures Police Force at an Explosive Time

A follow-up to his acclaimed, Independent Spirit Truer than Fiction Award-winning film The Waiting Room (Independent Lens, 2013), Pete Nicks’ The Force is part of a trilogy of films he’s making which are ostensibly about Oakland, where he’s based, but in a much larger sense are also about wholly American institutions — a hospital emergency room (and … READ MORE

How “I Am Not Your Negro” Filmmaker Reopened James Baldwin’s “House”

The worldly Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck and his family fled the Duvalier dictatorship in 1961 and found asylum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before Peck finished his schooling in the United States, France, and Germany. Currently living in both France and the U.S., Peck has been given numerous Human Rights Watch awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in … READ MORE

Filmmaker with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Investigates Her Own Medical Mystery in Unrest

To say filmmaker Jen Brea has made the most of her challenging situation would be a vast understatement. Burdened with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), she produced her film Unrest (premiering on Independent Lens Jan. 8 at 10 pm; check local listings) for the most part literally from her bed, yet managed to include people from … READ MORE