Today, POV is announcing the documentary lineup for its 25th anniversary season this summer on PBS. Launched in 1988 to showcase new and challenging point-of-view documentaries on PBS, POV (Point of View) has grown to become American television’s longest-running series dedicated to contemporary nonfiction programming.
POV moves this year from Tuesdays to Thursdays on PBS, and the series begins its 25th season on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 10 PM (check local listings) with award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Fox’s My Reincarnation, the story of a father’s spiritual persistence and a son’s spiritual awakening. The regular season runs through Thursday, Oct. 18 and continues with two special presentations in the fall and winter.
POV 2012 Broadcast Schedule:
Filmed over 20 years by acclaimed documentarian Jennifer Fox, My Reincarnation chronicles the epic story of exiled Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and his Western-born son, Yeshi. As Norbu rises as a teacher in the West, Yeshi, recognized from birth as the reincarnation of a famed Buddhist master, breaks away to embrace the modern world. Can the father convince his son to keep the family’s spiritual legacy alive? With intimate access to both the family and H.H. the Dalai Lama, Fox distills a decades-long drama into a universal story about love, transformation and destiny.
In a stunning milestone for justice in Central America, a Guatemalan court recently charged former dictator Efraín Rios Montt with genocide for his brutal war against the country’s Mayan people in the 1980s—and Pamela Yates’ 1983 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble, provided key evidence for bringing the indictment. Granito: How to Nail a Dictator tells the extraordinary story of how a film, aiding a new generation of human rights activists, became a granito—a tiny grain of sand—that helped tip the scales of justice.
Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars.
Every four seconds a romance novel published by Harlequin or its British counterpart, Mills & Boon, is sold somewhere in the world. Julie Moggan’s Guilty Pleasures takes an amusing and touching look at this global phenomenon. Ironies abound in the contrasts between the everyday lives of the books’ readers and the fantasy worlds that offer them escape. Guilty Pleasures portrays five romance devotees who must, ultimately, find their dreams in the real world.
Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria, 30 years ago. Every summer, her female students immerse themselves in a rigorous study of Islam. A surprising cultural shift is underway—women are claiming space within the mosque. Shot right before the uprising in Syria erupted, The Light in Her Eyes offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their aspirations.
Thomas and Tamara are track stars at their rural New Mexico high school. Like many teenagers, they are torn between the lure of brighter futures elsewhere and the ties that bind them to home. For these teens, however, home is an impoverished town on the Navajo reservation, and leaving means separating from family, tradition and the land that has been theirs for generations. Erica Scharf’s Up Heartbreak Hill is a moving look at a new generation of Americans struggling to be both Native and modern.
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday
National Broadcast Premiere: August 9, 2012 at 10 PM (Check local listings.)
In this 2012 Oscar-nominated short film, Alabama barber and civil rights veteran James Armstrong experiences the fulfillment of an unimaginable dream: the election of the first African-American president.
Winner of a 2011 Student Academy Award, this short film explores one family’s complex and emotional journey involving deportation.
The Peabody Award-winning oral-history project StoryCorps brings intimate conversations among friends and families to life in touching, often humorous animated shorts that tell universal stories.
From Finland comes Steam of Life, a moody, comic and moving study of men as framed by the national obsession with the sauna, where they come together to sweat out not only the grime of contemporary life, but also their grief, hopes, joys and memories. The acclaimed film provides a surprising glimpse into the troubled and often reticent hearts of contemporary Western men.
Imagine being picked up off the street, told you have committed a murder you know nothing about and then finding yourself sentenced to 20 years in jail. In 2005 this happened to Toño Zúñiga in Mexico City and, like thousands of others, he was wrongfully imprisoned. Presumed Guilty is the story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free Zúñiga. With no background in film, Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete set about recording the injustices they were witnessing, enlisting director Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon, POV 2009) to tell this dramatic story.
The story of Bradley Crowder and David McKay, accused of intending to firebomb the 2008 Republican National Convention, is a tale of idealism, loyalty, crime and betrayal. Better This World follows the radicalization of these boyhood friends from Midland, Texas, under a revolutionary activist. The results: eight homemade bombs, multiple domestic terrorism charges and an entrapment defense hinging on a controversial FBI informant. The film goes to the heart of the war on terror and political dissent in post-9/11 America.
From a small town in northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan, Where Soldiers Come From follows the four-year journey of childhood friends who join the National Guard after high school. As the young men transform from restless teenagers to soldiers looking for roadside bombs to 23-year-old combat veterans, the film offers an intimate look at the Americans who fight our wars and the families and towns they come from.
When Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker, award-winning filmmakers of The War Room, Startup.com and Don’t Look Back, turn their sights on the competition for the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France awards, the country’s Nobel Prize for pastry, you’re in for a treat. In Kings of Pastry, 16 chefs, including Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, whip up the most gorgeous, delectable, gravity-defying concoctions and edge-of-your-seat drama as they deliver their spun-sugar desserts to the display table. The inevitable disasters and successes prove both poignant and hilarious.
I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful
by Jonathan Demme
National Broadcast Premiere: Sept. 20, 2012 at 10 PM (Check local listings.)
In 2005, Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme set out to document the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. When he met Carolyn Parker, what began as a historical documentary morphed into a vibrant character study of the courage and resiliency of this fearless matriarch and civil rights activist. I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful is Demme’s intimate account of Parker’s five-year crusade to rebuild her beloved neon-green house, her church, her community—and her life.
Award-winning director Natalia Almada (Al Otro Lado, POV 2005; El General, POV 2009) returns with a beautiful and mesmerizing new film. From dusk to dawn, El Velador (The Night Watchman) accompanies Martin, a guard who watches over the extravagant mausoleums of some of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords. In the labyrinth of the cemetery, this film about violence without violence reminds us that, amid the turmoil of a drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives, ordinary existence persists in Mexico and quietly defies the dead.
As a tropical storm beats down on an island in the Philippines, two sisters leave work and never make it home. Paco Larrañaga, a 19-year-old student, is sentenced to death for their rape and murder, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. Give Up Tomorrow exposes shocking corruption within the judicial system of the Philippines in one of the most sensational trials in the country’s history. Two grieving mothers, entangled in a case that ends a nation’s use of capital punishment but fails to free an innocent man, dedicate more than a decade to executing or saving him.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
by Marshall Curry
Encore Broadcast Date: Oct. 11, 2012 at 10 PM (Check local listings.)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, nominated for a 2012 Oscar, explores two of America’s most pressing issues—environmentalism and terrorism—by lifting the veil on a radical environmental group the FBI calls America’s “No. 1 domestic terrorism threat.” Former ELF member Daniel McGowan faces life in prison for two multimillion-dollar arsons in Oregon. What turned this working-class kid from Queens into an eco-warrior? Marshall Curry (Oscar-nominated Street Fight, POV 2005; Racing Dreams, POV 2012) tells the provocative story.
When a Navajo couple discovers their children have a disorder that makes exposure to sunlight fatal, they also learn their reservation is a hotbed for this rare genetic disease. Why? Sun Kissed follows Dorey and Yolanda Nez as they confront cultural taboos, tribal history and their own unconventional choices to learn the shocking truth: The consequences of the Navajos’ Long Walk—their forced relocation by the U.S. military in 1864—are far from over.
Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light is a remarkable meditation on memory, history and eternity. Chile’s remote Atacama Desert, 10,000 feet above sea level, provides stunningly clear views of the heavens. But it also holds secrets from the past in its arid soil: human remains, from pre-Columbian mummies to the bones of political prisoners “disappeared” during the Pinochet dictatorship. In this otherworldly place, earthly and celestial quests meld: Archaeologists dig for ancient civilizations, women search for their loved ones and astronomers scan the skies for new galaxies.
Reportero follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. In Mexico, more than 40 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to power and launched a government offensive against the country’s powerful drug cartels and organized crime. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced?
Girl Model strips away the facade of the modeling industry by following two people whose lives intersect because of it. Ashley is a deeply conflicted American model scout, and 13-year-old Nadya, plucked from a remote Siberian village and promised a lucrative career in Japan, is her latest discovery. As the young girl searches for glamour and an escape from poverty, she confronts the harsh realities of a culture that worships youth—and an industry that makes perpetual childhood a globally traded commodity.