On the heels of receiving ten News and Documentary Emmy nominations, Independent Lens announced today that its new season will open with the critically-acclaimed documentary Bully. Directed by Sundance and Emmy Award-winner Lee Hirsch, the film brings human scale to this emotional issue, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation has touched the lives of five kids and their families. Bully premieres on Monday, October 13, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.
This fall Independent Lens takes viewers around the globe to explore fascinating human stories, from a tale of twins growing up a world apart, to the role that Japanese cultural attitudes may have played in a devastating train crash, to what will happen in a remote Bhutanese village when television comes to town.
“We’re proud to kick off our 13th season with Bully,” said Lois Vossen, Deputy Executive Producer, Independent Lens. “In addition to our national broadcast, mayors in all 50 states will host screenings of the film and convene strategy sessions as part of their commitment to National Bullying Prevention Month. We’re excited to be part of this transformative campaign and look forward to the conversations we’ll spark throughout our fall season with documentaries from the U.S., Norway, Japan, Bhutan, and India — bringing viewers into communities they wouldn’t otherwise get to know.”
Remaining true to its original focus of offering the best documentary films to viewers, Independent Lens seeks to bring these rich stories to even wider, more diverse audiences, engage communities in conversations, and provide an authentic space for many voices. Below is the season lineup through the end of the year. All programs are at 10 p.m. (check local listings). [See season trailer below.]
Monday, October 13
Bully, by Lee Hirsch, opens a window into the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem transcending geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic borders. The film documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities, and in society as a whole.
Monday, October 20
Twin Sisters, by Mona Friis Bertheussen, is the amazing true story of twin Chinese infants found in a cardboard box and taken to an orphanage in 2003. Thousands of miles away, two hopeful families — one in Norway and one in Sacramento — get word that their search for a child is over. Each couple arrives in China to claim their baby, but by a twist of fate, they also meet each other — and wonder if their new daughters might be connected. The girls grow up knowing they have a twin sister living on the other side of the world, and although language is a barrier, the bond between them grows deeper. A powerful and moving story of love and the game of fate.
Monday, October 27
Brakeless, by Kyoko Miyake, examines how cultural attitudes in Japan may have contributed to a devastating railway accident. On April 25, 2005, a commuter train smashed into an apartment building in Osaka and killed 107 people. Official reports later concluded that the cause of the accident was the driver, who was frantically speeding because he was 80 seconds behind schedule. A cautionary tale for a society that equates speed with progress, the film asks what happens when punctuality, protocol, and efficiency are taken to extreme.
Monday, November 3
Powerless, by Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa, illuminates the tangled complexity of the electricity situation in Kanpur, India, a once-booming industrial center that has been turned into an urban nightmare by a shortage of reliable power. A nimble young electrician provides Robin Hood-style services to the poor, but the first female chief of the utility company is on a mission to dismantle the illegal connections for good.
Monday, November 17
Happiness, by Thomas Balmès, captures the moment when ancient life bows to the seduction of technology, illuminating how complicated and bittersweet the arrival of progress can be. Pyangki, a nine-year-old monk, has never left his remote Bhutanese village perched high in the Himalayas. But now the world will come to him: his village will at long last be connected to electricity, and the first television will flicker on before his eyes. Keep your eyes on this space for a future announcement on the rest of the films to be presented in the spring 2015 portion of the Independent Lens season. We’re really excited about the diversity and power of all the documentaries coming soon, and think you will be, too.