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PBS Continues Commitment to Independent Films in 2013
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- Short Film Festival and Independent Film Showcase Announced -

Pasadena, CA; January 14, 2013 -- Today at the Television Critics Association meeting, PBS reaffirmed its commitment to independent film by announcing that it will offer its second annual Online Film Festival, featuring short form films beginning Monday, March 4, and will offer a multi-platform Independent Film Showcase this fall.  Both will feature films from POV and ITVS’s INDEPENDENT LENS, as well as other public media partners.

“PBS is committed to providing the public with year-round access to the best in independent filmmaking, whether it’s short form or long form — on-air and online,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “Working with POV, ITVS and our public media partners, our goal is to spotlight more independent films and filmmakers and help bring new and larger audiences to this important genre for PBS and our stations.”

PBS Online Film Festival Returns for Second Year

PBS’ Online Film Festival, accessible beginning March 4 via all PBS digital platforms, YouTube and PBS social media channels, will showcase 25 short films that feature a diversity of subjects, voices and viewpoints.

The featured films were produced by a number public media partners, including Independent Television Service (ITVS), POV, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Vision Maker Media, National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC) and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). This year’s festival also includes films from PBS stations KCTS 9 (Seattle), KLRU (Austin), PBS SoCaL (Los Angeles), WGTE (Toledo) and WCVE (Richmond, Virginia).

Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite short film from March 4 through March 22; the film with the most votes will receive the People’s Choice Award. The winning film will be announced in early April.

“As we’ve seen with PBS Digital Studios, the appetite for well-produced video on the web is growing substantially. Last year, Americans viewed more than 38 billion videos online a month,” said Jason Seiken, PBS General Manager, Digital. “The Online Film Festival is a great example of how we can leverage the web’s reach to showcase the terrific work of our producing partners, including the work of PBS member stations. We see the Online Film Festival as another example of how PBS and our partners are innovating and experimenting with different formats and platforms.”

(A current list of the films featured in the Online Film Festival is located at the end of this release. Films are subject to change.)

Independent Film Showcase Kicks Off Fall 2013

This fall, PBS will present a four-week multi-platform Independent Film Showcase with programs airing Monday nights at 10 p.m. (broadcast dates TBD). The Showcase will feature films from the landmark series POV and INDEPENDENT LENS, which together provide a year-round broadcast footprint for independent filmmakers on public television on Monday nights at 10 p.m. The Showcase is slated to take place during the weeks between the seasons of POV and INDEPENDENT LENS.

In addition to broadcast content, the festival will connect audiences with related online and mobile content, as well as opportunities to participate locally with their public television stations.

“While PBS offers independent film programming year-round, we devised this film showcase to help shine a spotlight on the exceptional programming coming from POV and INDEPENDENT LENS,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President of Programming, PBS. “With an impressive line-up of films crossing different genres and themes, we hope the Showcase will be a draw for existing independent film fans as well as new viewers.”

The featured films include the following (air dates are TBD):

“56 Up” – POV A film by Michael Apted

“56 Up” is the eighth film in a series of landmark documentaries that began 49 years ago when UK-based Granada’s World in Action team, inspired by the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” interviewed a diverse group of seven-year-old children from all over England, asking them about their lives and their dreams for the future. Michael Apted, a researcher for the original film, has returned to interview the “children” every seven years since, at ages 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, and now at age 56. In this latest chapter, more life-changing decisions are revealed, more shocking announcements are made and more of the original group takes part than ever before, speaking out on a variety of subjects including love, marriage, career and class.

“Brooklyn Castle” – POV  A film by Katie Dellamaggiore

Imagine a school where the cool kids are the chess team. Welcome to I.S. 318. “Brooklyn Castle” tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country. The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives — and on the chessboard — and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is about anticipation of their victories.

“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” – INDEPENDENT LENS A film by Ramona Diaz  

For Arnel Pineda, the past five years have been the stuff that dreams are made of. In 2007, his friend began uploading videos of the aspiring Filipino singer covering classic rock songs onto YouTube. One of the videos was seen by Neal Schon, guitarist for the iconic rock band Journey. Blown away by Pineda’s talent and uncanny vocal similarity to former Journey front man Steve Perry, Schon flew Pineda from Manila to San Francisco to audition for the band. The rest is history. But Pineda’s personal journey had just begun. His mother died when he was 12 and he ended up on the streets. And with no classical music training, he was anything but prepared for the grueling physical and emotional strains that come from fronting a rock band on a whirlwind world tour. Can a man who has already overcome so many obstacles deal with the demands of his newfound fame?

“The Waiting Room” – INDEPENDENT LENS A film by Peter Nicks  

“The Waiting Room” is an immersive documentary film that interweaves several stories that unfold in surprising ways in the ER waiting room at Oakland, California’s Highland Hospital — a facility stretched to the breaking point. The film is an intimate rendering of the story of our health care system at a moment of great change, told through the eyes of people stuck — sometimes for up to 14 hours — in the waiting room. The program tells the story of a remarkably diverse population battling their way through seismic shifts in the nation’s health care system while weathering the storm of a national recession. It’s a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together. “This is the rare film that can change the way you think and see the world,” says The San Francisco Chronicle.

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Short Films Featured in the PBS Online Film Festival Listed by Presenting Partner – Titles Subject to Change Festival Begins March 4, 2013

Independent Television Service (ITVS)

•“Brionna Williams” Meet Brionna Williams: At 14, she was suffering from health problems and chronic asthma. Now a 17-year-old senior at Kansas City’s Central High School, Brionna has become healthier and has found focus as a highly recruited student athlete.

•“Can’t Hold Me Back” The film follows Fernando Parraz as he becomes the first in his family to earn a high school diploma — his ticket out of the struggles of inner-city poverty and violence. With a mountain of roadblocks stacked against his educational achievement, Fernando finds support from an unlikely figure: his father — a former gangster who has suffered the costs of his own mistakes.

•“Story of an Egg” Can learning the meaning of a single term actually help change the food system? David Evans and Alexis Koefoed think so. These poultry farmers explain the real story behind such terms as “cage free,” “free range” and “pasture raised” so that consumers can make informed decisions when they go to their local supermarket.


“Ars Magna” Nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy® Award, “Ars Magna” enters into the obsessive and fascinating world of anagrams with a man who took the first three lines of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” and created what has been called “the world’s greatest anagram.”

•“CatCam” An engineer straps a camera on a stray cat in North Carolina and inadvertently creates a media sensation.

•“Sound of Vision” A blind musician spends his waking hours confronting the hurdles and embracing the cacophony of “The City That Never Sleeps” — New York — which he will never see.

Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

•“Why I Write” Vehement Khmer American spoken word artist Kosal Khiev delivers a passionate personal narrative in this engaging, head-on collision between the political and personal

•"Indian Summer” This short documentary brings together first generation Indian American youth with similar feelings of alienation to document their religious and cultural point of view.

POV and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB)

•“Sin País ” (Without Country)  Winner of a 2012 Student Academy Award®, “Sin País” explores one family’s experience as members are separated by deportation.

Vision Maker Media

•“Hoverboard” After watching Back to the Future 2, an imaginative young girl and her stuffed teddy bear try to invent a real working hoverboard.

Vision Maker Media and ITVS

•“Injunnuity - Buried” “Injunnuity” is a unique mix of animation, music and real thoughts from real people exploring our world from the Native American perspective. “Buried” shares Oblone activist and educator Corinna Gould’s reflection on the destruction of sacred shell mounds in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC)

•“Asylum – Bisi” Bisi Alimi describes coming out as a gay man — on national television — in Nigeria.

Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC)

•“Lina’la’ Lusong” Unshaken by centuries of colonial conquest and the changing tides of occupation, the lusong has endured to heal and feed the people of the land, and to impart a sacred lesson of survival.

KCTS 9 (Seattle)

•“Capsule” Two astronauts struggle to stay alive as their crashed space capsule slowly runs out of oxygen.

•“Honor the Treaties” A portrait of photographer Aaron Huey’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Featuring Shepard Fairy.

•“The House I Keep” A short film about a young woman’s emotional struggle to come to terms with her miscarriage.

KLRU (Austin)

•“Noc na Tanecku (Night at the Dance)” A profile of the last days of a Czech dance hall in rural Texas—and the old-timers who come there to polka.

•“Mijo” An evocative portrayal of a mother and child’s intimate relationship in the midst of life-altering medical events.

•“The Longest Sun” A narrative short film inspired by the mythology of the Tewa peoples of northern New Mexico is told entirely in the endangered language of Tewa (less than 500 native speakers remain). The film follows a young Tewa boy who sets out on a mythical journey to stop the sun from setting.

PBS SoCaL (Los Angeles)

•“Breathe Life” The Montelone family must fight cystic fibrosis every day, but their passion for love, life and surfing allows them to get through the uncertainty.

•“Still” Dive into the world of Carlos Eyles, ocean photographer, to discover the powerful connection between humankind and the seas that surround us.

•“Worlds Apart” A young Native American woman deals with the struggles of college away from her reservation.

WCVE (Richmond, Virginia)

•“Live Art” A groundbreaking educational program and concert event, created and led by the School of the Performing Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

WGTE (Toledo) “Heel” From the theater stage to the wrestling mat, the surprising story of a young woman’s journey to be a wrestler.

– PBS –

CONTACTS:  Jennifer Rankin Byrne, PBS, 703-739-5487,  Amna Mirza, ITVS, 415-356-8383 x442, Cathy Fisher, POV, 212-590-0573, 

For images and additional up-to-date information on this and other PBS programs, visit PBS PressRoom at