About Independent Lens

Independent Lens is America’s home for independent documentary film, airing Monday nights on most PBS member stations. Check your local listings, and don’t miss an episode.

Award-Winning Series

Each week we bring you an original documentary film made by one of the best independent filmmakers working today. Independent Lens films have won 19 Emmy Awards, 16 Peabody Awards, five duPont-Columbia University Awards, and have received 10 Academy Award nominations. Independent Lens won the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Continuing Series.

“There are few television franchises that have celebrated diversity and given voice to the voiceless as consistently and powerfully as Independent Lens on PBS.” (–Baltimore Sun)


After a winter lineup of powerful, personal documentaries Made in Boise, Decade of Fire, The Interpreters, Conscience Point and Attla, the spring/summer season of Independent Lens takes on a further range of timely topics including America’s mental health crisis, climate change, globalization, and the role news media plays in our everyday lives, while also shedding light on the successes of trailblazers among us. 

“Communities in large cities and small rural towns alike continue to change, as has always been the case in a nation of immigrants,” said Lois Vossen, the series’ Executive Producer. “As the makeup of our neighborhoods evolve, so, too, do ideals and beliefs. Our job at Independent Lens is to encourage storytelling that opens up a dialogue on relevant, even taboo topics such as climate change, mental health, homeless crisis, and how the media shapes our political beliefs. We also celebrate individual mavericks whose visionary work changed millions of lives. Their perseverance inspires us, even in difficult times.”

Films making their broadcast debuts from April through June include Bedlam, an intimate examination of the mental health crisis in America, the critically acclaimed The Hottest August, which paints a portrait of collective anxiety around the looming threat of climate change, and Jim Allison: Breakthrough, which chronicles the work of the Nobel Prize-winning visionary doctor who discovered a way to defeat cancer. 

Poster art for Bedlam, "An intimate journey into America's mental health crisis"

Independent Lens’ Spring 2020 lineup kicks off Monday March 30 with One Child Nation, from award-winning filmmaker Nanfu Wang, who, after the birth of her first child, returned to China to speak with her family and explore the ripple effect of that country’s devastating social experiment, the one-child policy. At its core, One Child Nation is a riveting personal story revealing shocking human rights violations that forces us all to reckon with the consequences of blind obedience.

Here are the other films to follow One Child Nation, Bedlam, The Hottest August and Jim Allison: Breakthrough:

Threatened by climate change and globalization, remote Rapa Nui (“Easter Island”) in the Pacific Ocean provides a wakeup call for the rest of the world as Eating Up Easter examines the clash between growth and sustainability faced by communities worldwide; in Rewind, filmmaker Sasha Joseph Neulinger revisits his childhood in Philadelphia through old home movies, revealing the secret that tore apart his seemingly perfect world; Marion Stokes secretly recorded American television 24 hours a day for 30 years, from 1975 until her death in 2012, in hopes that a comprehensive archive of the media would one day be invaluable, and now, through the life of Stokes and her tapes, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project gives an eye-opening glimpse into how television shaped, and continues to shape, our world; and Pipe Dreams, which follows five young organists as they tirelessly train and compete to win the Canadian International Organ Competition.

old television set with woman on screen

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

Indie Lens Pop-Up

Indie Lens Pop-Up, a neighborhood screening series from Independent Lens, also returns this spring with a schedule of digital screenings dedicated to engaging communities in conversations around the issues explored in these ITVS documentaries. The spring/summer season’s selection of films to be screened online includes Bedlam, Eating Up Easter, and Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, all of which will be followed by virtual moderated Q&As with filmmakers, experts and leaders from local community organizations.

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