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

Muscle Shoals’ Rick Hall Passes Away

Sad news to report, that Rick Hall, the star of the Independent Lens film Muscle Shoals, has died at the age of 85 after a long illness. The Fame Studios founder, who is credited with launching the career of such music icons as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and others, published and recorded numerous R&B, pop and … READ MORE

Take the Armistead Maupin and Tales of the City Pop Quiz!

How much do you know about Armistead Maupin and about his beloved Tales of the City series? Are you a Maupin superfan? Take this quiz we created for both for longtime fans and those who are newer to Maupin and Tales to enjoy. However you grade out, we think you’ll both enjoy it and learn something. Direct … READ MORE

From North Carolina to San Francisco: Jennifer Kroot Tells the Tales of Maupin

Jennifer Kroot brings a background in underground filmmaking to her documentaries and uses that sensibility to create surprises within her stories. The San Francisco-based filmmaker first caught the eye of writer Armistead Maupin when he saw her documentary To Be Takei, about actor and activist George Takei, and, as Maupin said affectionately and humorously in … READ MORE

On Supergirls, Sasha Fierce, Slim Shady and Having an Alter Ego

By Michelle Konstantinovsky Naomi Kutin is technically the central subject of the new Independent Lens documentary Supergirl. But as the film unfolds, viewers learn fairly quickly that there are actually two equally important protagonists: Kutin and her all-powerful alter ego, “Supergirl.” At first glance, the story might seem specific to Kutin, but the New Jersey pre-teen is representative … READ MORE