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TOPIC: Civil Liberties

How Jared Leto and 92 Film Crews Captured 24 Hours in America

In some ways, you’d think Jared Leto, Oscar-winning actor, movie star, and frontman for Platinum-selling band (with his brother Shannon) 30 Seconds to Mars, would not need much of an introduction. But now you can add another hat, with a new, heartfelt project for Leto, which is in some ways as ambitious as anything he’s … READ MORE

Filmmaker Exposes Shocking Pattern of Illegal Sterilizations in Women’s Prisons

Erika Cohn has made powerful documentaries for Independent Lens before and is no stranger to telling intimate, surprising stories in tense environments: her Peabody Award-winning film The Judge showed Shari’a law in a new light to Western eyes, through the story of the first-ever female judge in Palestine’s religious courts; and the Utah native filmmaker … READ MORE

The One-Child Policy Legacy on Women and Relationships in China

By Kristal Sotamayor The one-child policy was introduced to China in 1979, written into the national constitution in 1982, and subsequently ended in 2015. Over the 36 years of the policy, entire generations have been marked by the effects of the state’s control on women’s reproductive rights. The films One Child Nation and Leftover Women both … READ MORE

Filmmaker Accepts the Call to Tell Story of a Father and Son Divided

Filmmaker Eunice Lau, who is originally from Singapore (and boy does she have a story to tell you here about the experience of showing her film back home), was once a journalist at Al Jazeera Network. She has a penchant for telling stories concerning social justice, from dowry-killing in Bangladesh to uncovering corruption in Sarawak … READ MORE

Native Hawaiian Prisoners Learn Their Culture While Far From Home

By Christine Hitt The Independent Lens documentary Out of State follows Native Hawaiian exiting inmates, who were sent out of Hawai‘i to a private prison in Arizona, and how they struggle to transition into society again once their term is done. For close to 25 years, Hawai‘i has been sending prisoners to the continental U.S. … READ MORE

How to Pronounce (and Not Pronounce) “Tre Maison Dasan”

One of the three “stars” of the documentary Tre Maison Dasan, Maison is a funny, charming, hyper-articulate 11-year-old whose Autism Spectrum Disorder presents itself through his ever-active mind and deep love for those around him. He also very much wants you to know how to properly pronounce his name and the names of his fellow stars in … READ MORE

Filmmakers Navigate the Secretive World of Social Media Censorship in Atmosphere of Fear

You know German filmmakers Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block are sharp-minded characters when you learn they work collaboratively under the label “Laokoon,” named after the legendary Trojan seer Laocoön who in Greek mythology revealed the Trojan Horse as a dangerous fraud. In their works, Riesewieck and Block aim to reveal the Trojan horses of our … READ MORE

Delete or Ignore? Pretend You’re a Facebook Content Moderator

In 2018, after much debate and controversy, Facebook finally published its censorship policies. All 27 pages of them. The move, wrote the LA Times, “adds a new degree of transparency to a process that users, the public and advocates have criticized as arbitrary and opaque.” But as explored in the Independent Lens film The Cleaners, … READ MORE

Takeovers and Occupations: A Survey of American Mini-Rebellions and Political Stands

In the Independent Lens No Man’s Land, we get a fly on the wall sense of the tense armed takeover and 41-day standoff at Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge, led by rancher Ammon Bundy and his militia. Before it was all over, 26 people were arrested and charged with felony conspiracy against the government for their roles … READ MORE

Documentarian Ventures into the “No Man’s Land” of Malheur Takeover

Documentarian David Garrett Byars is making his feature film debut with No Man’s Land, but he’s made short films before. including Recapture, a short documentary chronicling the attempt of right-wing activists to reclaim the federally-managed Recapture Canyon in southern Utah. Clearly that experience informed–and provides a nice segue–to No Man’s Land, which provides a tense fly-on-the-wall … READ MORE

Director Finds Real Life Superheroes with “Conviction”

Filmmaker Jamie Meltzer, also the program director of the MFA program in Documentary Film at Stanford University, has made acclaimed films about a wide collection of topics, from song-poems to Nollywood (Nigerian) film to FBI informants, but each tells a very human and compelling story. And his new film, the Tribeca Special Jury Award-winning True … READ MORE