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Critical Acclaim for ‘Best Kept Secret’ – Premieres Tonight on PBS

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Read what critics and journalists have to say about Best Kept Secret, the POV film that will be airing tonight on PBS (Check local listings). It will be streaming for free on the POV website from Tuesday, September 24 to Monday, October 7, 2013.

At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s best-kept secret.” JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they “age out” of the system.

“The film’s director, Samantha Buck, demonstrates a sensitivity comparable to that of Frederick Wiseman. . . . Best Kept Secret is an exemplary documentary: It spotlights an important issue yet never seeks to squeeze the truth into an easily digestible narrative frame. Instead it expands its storytelling to the boundaries of messy, joyful and painful reality. NYT Critics’ Pick.”
Miriam Bale, The New York Times

“As Samantha Buck’s moving documentary makes clear, the secret weapon at the public school for special-needs students is Janet Mino, an inspirational teacher with limitless patience and indefatigable enthusiasm. . . . [The film] inserts the viewer into the overwhelming experience of teaching, parenting, even being an underprivileged young adult with autism.”
Annlee Ellingson, Los Angeles Times

“Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept. . . . Samantha Buck’s documentary smartly sits back and watches as Mino works away. Apart from a few, briskly factual titles, there are no editorial intrusions here—no yammering experts, no pontificating activists, no sappy sentimental music. Just these kids, and the people who love them. . . . A haunting film.”
Steve Whitty, The Star-Ledger

“At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Best Kept Secret . . . engrosses even as it sheds much-needed light on its important issue. . . . Not all of Mino’s efforts end happily. But the mere fact that such dedicated and indomitable teachers exist provides ample reason for hope.”
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“Hugely inspiring . . . thanks to Janet Mino. She’s one of the cinematic heroines of the year.”
Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly / Village Voice

“A pressing issue in the U.S. . . . If you think managing your teenager’s transition from high school to college or a job is hard, consider the challenge for parents and students with autism.”
Michel Martin, Tell Me More, NPR

“The film presents, in a very honest way, the options that are out there. . . . Watching the documentary, I felt a flood of emotions—hope, joy, worry, despair. . . . Seeing Janet work with her students is so gripping, so moving.”
Andrew Meyer, WBGO Journal, WBGO Radio, Newark, N.J.

“As uplifting a documentary as you are likely to see this year. . . . A magnificent tapestry of touching relationships. . . . When scientists figure out how to clone humans, they ought to start with Janet Mino.”
Kam Williams, syndicated film critic

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POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • Phillip Schumpert

    The emotional attachment expressed by the teachers at the JFK School is portrayed as a underlying theme in this show. Ms. Milo is magnificent!

  • roderunr

    Janet Mino is an amazing person; she must be absolutely drained by the end of each day (as she seems to give “her all”). I saw only part of the show, but what I saw was touching, heart-warming, and inspiring. I cannot wait until “BKS” airs again! Thank you for a beautiful story.

  • michael harper

    It is so very hard to watch the vulnerable in our society being warehoused – handed off to be some one else’s responsibility. It saddens me to see a family make a choice regarding the level of care to be provided based upon whether some one else will provide the transportation to that care. This story is a stark contrast to the P.O.V. documentary Life. Support. Music. – in which a family takes on the arduous task of assisting in the rehabilitation of a loved one who has suffered a brain hemorrhage.

  • Jeff Strater

    So wonderful. Thank you POV and PBS for a thought provoking program. God bless Janet Mino.

  • Janis Adams

    My son, 23 with high functioning autism, has been blessed so many times with teachers & aides who care so much…like Janet Mino. This program tonight shows pretty much what I see here in Texas. The work-a-day lives we offer our men & women are pretty thin & poor. Somehow they still usually manage to stay pretty happy. It’s our job to advocate for them so they have richer lives. Bless Ms Mino & all the many like her.