POV Films Nominated
For Six Emmy Awards
A New Approach
May 18, 2010
Emmy-Winning POV Series Returns to PBS in 2010 With Two Academy Award®-nominated Documentaries
When the award-winning POV (Point of View) returns to PBS for its 23rd season with the special broadcast on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 9 p.m. of Food, Inc., Robert Kenner's powerful critique of the American way of eating, expect a revolution in how Americans view their supermarket. Nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Feature Documentary (along with The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, slated for a special fall presentation) and available until now only in theaters, Food, Inc. will startle, inform and infuriate an exponentially greater number of Americans via public television.
The broadcast premiere of Food, Inc., part of PBS' Earth Month programming, marks an important step in focusing public attention on a growing consensus among consumers that something is seriously amiss in a system that delivers huge amounts of food at low prices. Food, Inc. features commentary by Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), and alternative food producers Joe Salatin and Gary Hirschberg. Airing with Food, Inc. is Ariana Gerstein and Monteith McCollum's Notes on Milk, a short variation of their 2007 feature documentary Milk in the Land: Ballad of an American Drink. Gerstein and McCollum, whose Hybrid aired on POV in 2002, take a quirky and poetic look at some lesser-known aspects of America's favorite drink: the industry's spiritual underpinnings, politics and the struggle of independent farmers.
POV's regular season of Tuesday 10 p.m. broadcasts begins June 22, 2010 with Emily and Sarah Kunstler's William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, which examines the life of this radical attorney from a surprising angle. Kunstler's two daughters from his second marriage grew up lionizing a man already famous for his historic civil rights and anti-war cases. Then, in their teens, they began to be disillusioned by a stubborn man who continued representing some of the most reviled defendants in America — this time accused rapists and terrorists. In this intimate biography, the filmmakers seek to recover the real story of what made their late father one of the most beloved, and hated, lawyers in America. Winner of the L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Vision Award, 2009 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.
This season POV will partner with StoryCorps to present a selection of animated documentary shorts based on StoryCorps' groundbreaking oral-history project. StoryCorps was founded by MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay in 2003 and their broadcasts on National Public Radio have become the gold standard in public radio broadcasting. Six documentary animations will air this summer with selected feature-length POV films starting with SALT on Aug. 17.
"It's always something of a thrill to see the POV season come together," says Simon Kilmurry, executive producer of POV. "Diverse films about history and the present, intimate and public lives, memories and reality begin to sync up in ways that year-by-year provide an uncanny snapshot of the world we live in. And it's especially gratifying to welcome back a group of filmmakers — Deann Borshay Liem, Laura Poitras, Natalia Almada, Geoffrey Smith and Monteith McCollum — who have graced our schedule in the past." American television's longest-running independent documentary series, POV received a 2007 Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking as well as the 2009 International Documentary Association Award for Continuing Series.
POV's summer schedule includes The Beaches of Agnes, airing on June 29. In this delightful memoir, pioneering French filmmaker Agnes Varda (Vagabond, Cleo From 5 to 7) employs all the magic of cinema to juxtapose the real and the imagined, the past and the present, pain and joy. For the 81-year-old artist, memories live through her films. In The Beaches of Agnes, she uses film clips, old photos and gorgeous reenactments to revisit her Belgian youth, association with the French New Wave, marriage to director Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and the making of her movies. You don't need to know anything about Varda to enjoy this enchanting glimpse into the treasure chest of her memories.
POV presents two films looking at different aspects of life, politics and economics in Africa. Though apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994, economic injustices between blacks and whites remain unresolved. As revealed in Yoruba Richen's incisive Promised Land, on July 6, the most potentially explosive issue is land. The film follows two black communities as they struggle to reclaim land from white owners, some of whom who have lived there for generations. Amid rising tensions and wavering government policies, the land issue remains South Africa's "ticking time bomb," with far-reaching consequences for all sides. Promised Land captures multiple perspectives of citizens struggling to create just solutions. A co-production of the National Black Programming Consortium, American Documentary/POV and the Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Landon Van Soest's Good Fortune, on July 13, is a provocative exploration of how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. In Kenya's rural countryside, Jackson's farm is being flooded by an American investor who hopes to alleviate poverty by creating a multimillion-dollar rice farm. Across the country in Nairobi, Silva's home and business in Africa's largest shantytown are being demolished as part of a U.N. slum-upgrading project. The gripping stories of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development present a unique opportunity see foreign aid through eyes of the people it is intended to help.
On July 20, POV turns to Latin America with El General. Past and present collide as award-winning filmmaker Natalia Almada (Al Otro Lado, POV 2006) brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother, daughter of Plutarco Elias Calles, a revolutionary general who became Mexico's president in 1924. In his time, Calles was called El Jefe Maximo (Foremost Chief). Today he is remembered as El Quema-Curas (Priest Burner) and as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until his exile in 1936. Airing during the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, El General moves between a daughter's memories as she grapples with history's portrayal of her father and the weight of his legacy on Mexico today. Winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Directing Award: Documentary. A co-production of ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting.
Premiering July 27, Presumed Guilty, a film by Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete, tells a harrowing tale of a justice system turned on its head. 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 December 2005 this happened to Toño Zúñiga in Mexico City and, like thousands of other innocent people, he was wrongfully imprisoned. The award-winning Presumed Guilty is the story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free Zúñiga. With no background in film, Hernández and Negrete set about recording the injustices they were witnessing, enlisting acclaimed director Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon, POV 2009) to tell this dramatic story. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting.
During PBS' summer pledge period, POV airs encore presentations of two popular programs. On Aug. 3, POV presents Aron Gaudet's The Way We Get By. On call 24 hours a day for the past five years, a group of senior citizens has made history by greeting more than 900,000 American troops at a tiny airport in Bangor, Maine. The Way We Get By is an intimate look at three of these greeters as they confront the universal losses that come with aging and rediscover their reason for living. A co-production of Dungby Productions and ITVS in association with WGBH and Maine Public Broadcasting Network, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and sent from Korea to her new home in California. There the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated, until recurring dreams led her to investigate her own past, and she discovered that her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Borshay Liem embarks on a heartfelt journey in her acclaimed 2000 film First Person Plural, a poignant essay on family, loss and the reconciling of two identities, airing on Aug. 10. A co-presentation of ITVS and the Center for Asian American Media. On Sept. 14, POV will present the filmmaker's new documentary, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, the next part of this extraordinary story.
POV's regular season resumes on Aug. 17 with Michael Angus and Murray Fredericks' thoughtful and visually stunning SALT. In his search for "somewhere I could point my camera into pure space," award-winning photographer Murray Fredericks began making annual solo camping trips to remote Lake Eyre and its salt flats in South Australia. These trips have yielded remarkable photos of a boundless, desolate yet beautiful environment where sky, water and land merge. Made in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Michael Angus, SALT is the film extension of Fredericks' work at Lake Eyre, interweaving his photos and video diary with time-lapse sequences to create the liberating and disorienting experience of being thrown into an infinite dimension of mind and spirit.
SALT will be accompanied by a selection of shorts. Nothing can make up for the loss of an eye, but as shown in Ellen Frick's A Healing Art, artificial eye makers Christy Erickson and Todd Cranmore combine artistry, skill and compassion to rekindle hope for their patients and families. The film, by Frick's production team Fly on the Wall, won the American Documentary | POV Award as well as the Audience Award at the 2009 Documentary Challenge, a timed competition where filmmakers have five days to make a short nonfiction film.
Shorts from StoryCorps will premiere on the SALT broadcast. The award-winning StoryCorps team brings documentary animations celebrating the best and most powerful stories that have emerged from the StoryCorps archive. Animated by Mike and Tim Rauch and using original StoryCorps audio recordings, these short films capture the intimate and emotionally resonant conversations that have become renowned as NPR's quintessential "driveway moments." Airing on Aug. 17:
- Danny and Annie, Part I — Brooklyn natives Danny and Annie Perasa reminisce on their 27-year love affair. Though he may not look the part, when Danny talks about his love for Annie, it's obvious that he is one of the world's great romantics.
- Danny and Annie, Part II — After nearly three decades of marriage, fatal illness dashed Danny and Annie's hopes for a long life together. In an intimate and heartbreaking glimpse into a marriage, this animated short witnesses true love as it braves the finality of loss.
Additional StoryCorps films will be presented on POV in 2010 and 2011, as well as being presented as standalone films in partnership with PBA 30 (Public Broadcasting Atlanta). The StoryCorps collection is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The Edge of Dreaming, on Aug. 24, is an eerie account of a rational mind beset by dreams and omens. Scottish filmmaker Amy Hardie has built a career making science documentaries that reflect her rational temperament. When one night she dreamed her horse was dying, only to wake and find the horse dead, she dismissed the incident as coincidental. Then she dreamed she would die at age 48 — the next year. When Hardie does get ill, just as the dream predicted, her search takes her to neuroscience and finally a shaman. The Edge of Dreaming is an evocative, intimate chronicle of that year and a fascinating investigation into the human subconscious. It will be accompanied by the StoryCorps short Q&A. Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua's unique questions and Sarah's loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best — and the most challenging — parts of being a parent.
This season POV will present a trilogy of films about domestic and international adoption, accompanied by community-engagement campaigns funded in part by The Fledgling Fund. What is it like to be torn from your Chinese foster family, put on a plane with strangers and wake up in a new country, family and culture? Stephanie Wang-Breal's Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, airing on Aug. 31, is the story of Fang Sui Yong, an 8-year-old orphan, and the Sadowskys, the Long Island Jewish family that travels to China to adopt her. Sui Yong is one of 70,000 Chinese children now being raised in the United States. Through her eyes, we witness her struggle with a new identity as she transforms from a timid child into someone that no one — neither her new family nor she — could have imagined. A co-production of American Documentary/POV and the Diverse Voices Project, presented in association with the Center for Asian American Media, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Wo Ai Ni (I Love You Mommy) will be accompanied by the StoryCorps animated short Germans in the Woods. Joseph Robertson was an infantryman in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The stark black-and-white images in this short haunt the viewer — just as Robertson is haunted still by his memories from that battle.
Nicole Opper's Off and Running, on Sept. 7, tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean-American. Though it may not look typical, Avery's household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her "true" identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results. A co-production of ITVS in association with the National Black Programming Consortium and American Documentary/POV and the Diverse Voices Project, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Off and Running will air with two StoryCorps animated shorts. The great oral historian Studs Terkel was an inspiration to StoryCorps and he was also an early participant in the project. In The Human Voice, he speaks out about what has been lost in modern life and where he sees hope for our future. As revealed in The Icing on the Cake, Blanca Alvarez and her husband risked crossing the border to immigrate to the United States, and then struggled to make ends meet. They hoped to shelter their children from these harsh realities, but Blanca's daughter Connie reveals how much children can really see of their parents' lives — and the inspiration they draw from their struggles.
In First Person Plural, which was part of the 2000 POV season, the American-adopted Deann Borshay Liem discovered her Korean birth family. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, on Sept. 14, is the acclaimed filmmaker's follow-up, in which she goes in search of another piece of the puzzle. Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for Liem, who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as Liem returns to Korea to find her "double," the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. A co-production of ITVS in association with the Center for Asian American Media and American Documentary/POV, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Laura Poitras, who gave us Flag Wars (POV 2003) and the Oscar®-nominated My Country, My Country (POV 2006), returns on Sept. 21 with The Oath. Filmed in Yemen and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Oath interweaves the stories of Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard, and Salim Hamdan, a prisoner at Guantanamo facing war crimes charges. The film unfolds in a narrative filled with plot reversals and betrayals, leading ultimately to Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo and the U.S. Supreme Court. Winner of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary. A co-production of ITVS in association with American Documentary/POV.
POV closes its 2010 season with a special fall broadcast of another Academy Award®-nominated documentary feature, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. Why would a dedicated Cold War strategist throw away his career, his friends and risk life in prison for a chance to help end the Vietnam War? In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a leading military planner, concluded that America's role in the war was based on decades of lies. He leaked the Pentagon Papers, 7,000 pages of top-secret documents, to The New York Times, a daring act of conscience that led to Watergate, President Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War. This is a gripping tale told by Ellsberg with a who's who of Vietnam- and Watergate-era figures. A co-production of ITVS in association with American Documentary/POV.