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CATEGORY: Beyond the Films

For Tribal Communities, Battle Over Land Is Nothing New

By Jordan Dresser Sometimes, two people can look out of the same window and see two very different things.  This outlook sprang to my mind while watching Treva Wurmfeld’s Conscience Point, which tells the story of the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s fight to preserve and protect the land they call home in Long Island, New York. Relocated to … READ MORE

How the Burning of the Bronx Led to the Birth of Hip-Hop

Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, a geographer and writer who co-edited, with Rebecca Solnit, the remarkable, fascinating book Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, helped us create a playlist to accompany both Decade of Fire and a key map in his book: “Burning Down and Rising Up: The Bronx in the 1970s.” That map puts a geographic spin on … READ MORE

“A Scene I’ll Never Forget.” Filmmaker Intimately Captures Surrogacy Journey in Boise

Emmy and Peabody-winning producer/director Beth Aala has gone from a Pool Party (her first film as director) filled with amazing music, the story of how a swimming pool became the center of a music scene in Brooklyn, to co-directing (with actor Mike Myers) Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, a portrayal of a legendary talent agent, to tracking an … READ MORE

Surrogacy Facts and Myths: How Much Do You Know?

By Lennlee Keep In 2018, over 100 children were born in Boise, Idaho, through surrogacy. The story behind this unique baby boom is explored in the Independent Lens documentary Made in Boise, an intimate look at how surrogates and parents are coming together to create new bonds and unique families. Surrogacy is widely misunderstood and … READ MORE

Space Scientists of Color, and the “Afronauts”

What drives humankind to explore? There are several factors that can embolden a person to “seek out new civilizations” or “boldly go where no one has gone before,” to borrow from Star Trek’s famous opener. History has taught us that famine, war, strife, and persecution can drive people away from their home country, yet positive things like opportunity or hope for a better life can draw us towards the unknown. READ MORE

Women of the Space Agency: Once Forbidden, No Longer Hidden

In July of 1999, on Apollo 11’s 30th anniversary, at a Kennedy Space Center press conference, NASA astronaut and first moonwalker Neil Armstrong lamented, “School children used to say, ‘We are reading about you in science class.’ Now they say, ‘We are reading about you in history class.’”  READ MORE

High School Coaches Wear Many Hats to Make an Impact

Driving kids home from practice, taking them to visit colleges, running and lifting weights with them out of season, answering the phone in the middle of the night when something has gone wrong — these are just a few of the many roles sports coaches take on for their players. The player/coach relationship can be special, as seen in the film Wrestle, it can be a chance for young people to connect with a mentor who knows them individually and pushes them through their struggles. READ MORE

Harvest Season’s Historical Roots: Latinos in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys

Harvest Season serves as a reminder that agriculture is notoriously sensitive to the ebb and flow of external forces — natural disasters, economic movements, and political change. Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz artfully depicts the Sonoma and Napa wine industry as a modern microcosm for this ever-changing delicate balance. But the small-scale cycles presented in Harvest Season naturally beg a historical question. What past iterations of turmoil brought the winemaking industry in Sonoma and Napa to where it is today?

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Native Hawaiian Prisoners Learn Their Culture While Far From Home

By Christine Hitt The Independent Lens documentary Out of State follows Native Hawaiian exiting inmates, who were sent out of Hawai‘i to a private prison in Arizona, and how they struggle to transition into society again once their term is done. For close to 25 years, Hawai‘i has been sending prisoners to the continental U.S. … READ MORE

Stepping Up for Homeless Black People in Oakland

By Pendarvis Harshaw The Independent Lens documentary Charm City brings to mind the long list of urban American cities that fall into the same category as the Baltimore seen in that film: Detroit, Newark, Compton, and Oakland, to name a few. They’re all post-industrial towns, where the closure of factories, underfunding of public education and … READ MORE

What “The Wire” Got Right, and Wrong, About Baltimore (and How “Charm City” Fills in the Rest)

By Lee Gardner Baltimoreans who venture beyond the I-695 beltway always know it’s coming. We meet someone from another city, or another country. They find out we’re from Baltimore, and after a suitably polite length of get-to-know-you chat, they bring up the award-winning HBO series The Wire. And really, it’s okay. There are worse things than … READ MORE

New Efforts to Improve Rural Healthcare Crisis

By Suzanne Gordon The three caregivers we meet in The Providers face daunting challenges as they try to deliver medical and mental healthcare to patients in rural New Mexico. Sadly, their struggles are reproduced all over America because for decades the nation has failed to address the problem of delivering healthcare outside of urban and … READ MORE