Behind Independent Lens: Fighting for Diverse Public Media

We get the questions often enough here at Independent Lens about PBS, the federal budget, and the idea of publicly funded media in general. Many of our viewers probably aren’t aware that PBS is not a network in the same sense that CBS or even CNN are. Also true is that Independent Lens is produced … READ MORE

Ever Have a Teacher Who Changed Your Life?

Teachers — often overworked, frequently underappreciated, sometimes demonized, usually meagerly compensated. But all of us have had teachers who helped us grow up and make sense of the world, and to find our place in it. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (but really all year long) we want educators to get the props (and … READ MORE

Viewer Tracy Chiles McGhee is One Inspired Woman

During Women’s History Month, we aired a number of documentaries featuring incredibly smart, brave, and talented women including Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai) and Rose Mapendo (Pushing the Elephant). That got us to thinking about all of the amazing women in the world and how each of … READ MORE

And the Artists Month Viewer Contest Winners Are ….

Honestly, we are humbled and amazed by all of the artists who submitted their work to us for our Are You a Visionary? art contest in honor of our Artists Month slate of documentaries for April. Never in the history of our user contests have we had a response nearing it. Thank you artists and … READ MORE

Marwencol Director Reflects on a Man, His Dolls, and the Touch of Genius

Jeff Malmberg, director of Marwencol, took on much more than just a film project when he decided to shoot a documentary about Mark Hogancamp. Intrigued by a magazine article about Mark and his imaginary backyard universe, Jeff had to earn the trust of a man who had been misunderstood and brutalized by the outside world … READ MORE

Vote for Your Favorite Independent Lens Viewer Artist!

OK, so we asked you to enter our “Are You a Visionary?” art contest, and boy, did you ever wow us with your talent. We never want Artists Month to end! In fact, we had originally planned to have only 10 finalists, but it was so hard to choose only 10 (and some of us … READ MORE

We’re Livestreaming Garbage Dreams Thursday for Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day, we’re hosting an exclusive live online screening of the highly acclaimed documentary, Garbage Dreams by Mai Iskander on Thursday, April 21, 9PM EDT 6PM PDT on our Facebook page and the Independent Lens Livestream channel. Filmed over four years, the documentary goes inside the world of Egypt’s Zaballeen (Arabic for … READ MORE

Are You a Visionary? Enter Our Artists Month Contest

In celebration of Artists Month, we’re putting out a call for entries for you — our creative audience — to create and submit a piece of artwork that best reflects you. We’re looking for expressions of identity and creativity here: Perhaps it’s a self-portrait, or a photograph of a beloved object, a diorama scene, or … READ MORE

For Your Tuesday: Basquiat, and a Live Chat with Our Artists Month Filmmakers

In celebration of Artists Month, we are hosting a live chat today in collaboration with PBS NewsHour’s Art Beat and ITVS. Join us RIGHT HERE for a discussion about creativity, transformation, outsider art, and the love of great storytelling with the filmmakers behind this month’s slate of amazing docs. Join us right here at 7 … READ MORE

Mikey Welsh Trades Rock ‘n’ Roll Stardom for Outsider Art

Mikey Welsh is a painter living in Burlington, Vermont. He worked in collage and watercolors until the age of 19, when he began his music career. By the age of 30, he had achieved international fame as the bassist for the alt-rock band Weezer. The touring and drugs and stress of the rock ‘n’ roll … READ MORE

Hollywood Multitasker Tamra Davis Remembers Her Friend, Jean-Michel Basquiat

Director Tamra Davis is hardly an “outsider artist.” She is a well-known Hollywood director of music videos (with Sonic Youth, Hanson, Depeche Mode, Cher, and many more), feature films (including Billy Madison, Half Baked, and Crossroads with Britney Spears), and television series (My Name is Earl, Everybody Hates Chris, and Ugly Betty, among others). She … READ MORE

Artists Month Delivers Films, Interactive Features to Independent Lens

Thank you to all who stuck with us through pledge and helped support public broadcasting and independent programming! Spring is upon us, and the Independent Lens team has grown a crop of great arts films and challenging online extras to celebrate. (More about that after the jump!) Meanwhile, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger is … READ MORE