June Cross Tells the Story of a Family Fighting HIV in South Carolina

June Cross, who has two national Emmys and two duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards to her credit and is the founder of the Documentary Program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, has always been interested in documenting families and issues of public health. Both converge in the most moving of ways for her new film Wilhemina’s … READ MORE

African Americans Hit Hardest by HIV in the South

While HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence to the same extent it was 20 years ago, 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with HIV each year, and the disparities are startling when broken down by race, gender, and region. As reflected in June Cross’s film Wilhemina’s War [premieres February 29; check local listings], which puts a human … READ MORE

Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe Capture an FBI Informant

To do a film about an undercover FBI anti-terror sting is already tricky territory to navigate, but filmmakers Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe infiltrated even deeper. In (T)ERROR, they gained unprecedented access to an FBI informant, for a documentary Brian Tallerico (on RogerEbert.com) called “a fascinating piece of work that approaches CITIZENFOUR in its deconstruction of governmental failure and … READ MORE

Take this Quiz on the War on Terror

Everything changed in the United States on September 11, 2001. While in the aftermath of those attacks much of the focus in what President George W. Bush called the “War on Terror” was on the Middle East, the efforts to thwart terrorism on American soil were obviously stepped up to a great degree. From the controversial USA PATRIOT … READ MORE

A Former FBI Agent Talks About Handling Informants

Since 2009, paid FBI informants have played a central role in nearly 50% of all domestic terrorism cases. Informants, who can earn up to $100,000 per case, are instructed to build relationships with persons of interest. The film (T)ERROR [premiering on PBS February 22; check local listings] focuses on one of these informants, operating under the pseudonym Shariff, who … READ MORE

Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter Quiz

It was 50 years ago that the Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was formed in Oakland, California by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The Black Panther Party organized armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the behavior of local police and to challenge police brutality in Oakland. As detailed in Stanley Nelson’s film The Black … READ MORE

Stanley Nelson Reveals the Real Black Panther Party

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson, who won an Emmy for the PBS documentary The Murder of Emmett Till, three Emmys for Freedom Riders, and made an acclaimed film about Marcus Garvey, has for years aimed his probing but fair-minded lens on civil rights history. Along the way he realized he hadn’t really seen a film that covered the full and fascinating … READ MORE

The Black Panthers Pandora Mixtape

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution will be televised on Independent Lens February 16 at 9 pm [check local listings] but you can plug in, turn on, and get down ahead of time with our curated Pandora Mixtape. The set joins the politically charged soul music of the ’60s and 70’s with post-Panther era R&B and hip-hop that … READ MORE

Breaking Barriers on Stage: African American Ballet Dancers Who Made History

As we learn in A Ballerina’s Tale, Nelson George’s new documentary about Misty Copeland [February 8; check local listings], Eurocentric standards of body shape, muscle tone, and skin color excluded dancers who didn’t fit the wan mold demanded of prima ballerinas. All that changed in the summer of 2015, when Misty Copeland, a rising star already transcending the rarified … READ MORE

Renee Tajima-Peña on the Women of the Madrigal vs Quilligan Case

Filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary for her film Who Killed Vincent Chin?, which aired on PBS back in 1989. She’s hardly sat still since then; her films have premiered at Sundance, Cannes, San Francisco International, New Directors/New Films, Toronto, the Whitney Biennial and other festivals around the world. And as she … READ MORE

Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States

Coerced sterilization is a shameful part of America’s history, and one doesn’t have to go too far back to find examples of it. Used as a means of controlling “undesirable” populations – immigrants, people of color, poor people, unmarried mothers, the disabled, the mentally ill – federally-funded sterilization programs took place in 32 states throughout the 20th century. … READ MORE