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TOPIC: Crime

Philadelphia Has a Long History of Fights Over Criminal Justice Reform

By Kristal Sotomayor In order to understand the rich history of criminal reform work, up through the vivid stories of crime and punishment presented in the docuseries Philly D.A., it is important to recognize Philadelphia’s origin story, as it were. This is by no means meant to reflect the entirety of Philadelphia’s complex history around … READ MORE

“Nobody Was Listening”: Finding Light in a Dark Stairwell

Filmmaker Ursula Liang‘s previous documentary 9-Man was about the fascinating titular sport that originated among Chinese immigrant communities in the United States and Canada, and was set in mostly Boston, Washington and Toronto. Her new film Down a Dark Stairwell takes Liang and her crew down a darker storyline, but as the Massachusetts native Liang … READ MORE

The District Attorney’s Office, Explained: From Prosecutors to Deputy D.A.’s, Who Does What

By Márcia Mayer We rooted for Jack McCoy on Law and Order, and loved to hate Peter Florrick on The Good Wife, but unless you actually work with a District Attorney’s office, you will probably find yourself reaching for a guidebook on the structure of that office and how it fits in with the other … READ MORE

Telling the Story of Gender, Politics, and Violence in America Through the Eyes of Women Police Officers

In addition to her documentaries Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65, and Suicide On Campus, a web documentary produced in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine, Deirdre Fishel‘s previous film CARE peeled back the curtain of a topic Americans often avert their eyes away from, the largely hidden world of … 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

Filmmaker Explores First Steps Toward Justice and Reconciliation

Independent filmmaker Jacqueline Olive, who has worked in non-fiction filmmaking for years and co-directed and co-produced the award-winning hour-long documentary, Black to Our Roots (PBS WORLD), makes her feature documentary directing debut with the searing Always in Season, which was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.    A … 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

Filmmaker Follows Incarcerated Native Hawaiians Discovering Their Indigenous Traditions

Native Hawaiian filmmaker Ciara Lacy has had her work aired on PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E, and was an inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow for Indigenous Artists. A graduate of Yale and Hawai’i’s Kamehameha Schools, Lacy’s first documentary short, shot for the Guardian Online, chronicled a unique homeless encampment in Hawai’i and yielded over … 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

Filmmaker Spotlights Unsung Neighbors Lifting Up Baltimore

Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont Award-winning filmmaker, who has produced films like the acclaimed Cameraperson (dir. Kirsten Johnson), which was released by the Criterion Collection and shortlisted for an Oscar; Trapped (dir. Dawn Porter; Independent Lens), which won a Peabody; and the Independent Lens film 1971, which was nominated for an Emmy. … READ MORE

What “The Wire” Got Right, and Wrong, About Baltimore (and How “Charm City” Fills in the Rest)

By Lee Gardner Baltimoreans who venture beyond the I-695 beltway always know it’s coming. We meet someone from another city, or another country. They find out we’re from Baltimore, and after a suitably polite length of get-to-know-you chat, they bring up the award-winning HBO series The Wire. And really, it’s okay. There are worse things than … READ MORE