PBS Indies Shorts Launches With Independent Lens & POV Films

March 05, 2014 by Craig Phillips in


PBS Indies Shorts, a new collection of short films, working in partnership with its independent strand producers POV and us here at Independent Lens/Independent Television Service (ITVS), launched today. Over the coming months, the new site will showcase 26 original films commissioned for digital platforms, ranging in length from three to 20 minutes, and which were co-curated by PBS, POV, and Independent Lens to appeal to young, diverse, and social audiences. The short films are upbeat and innovative in both storyline and execution.

PBS also announced its popular Online Film Festival will return June 16-July 31, 2014, at pbs.org/filmfestivalFor updates on the fest, follow #PBSolff on Twitter.

But meanwhile, six of the 26 short films are available today on all PBS digital platforms; the PBS mobile app; the PBS apps on Roku, AppleTV, and Xbox; YouTube; and PBS’s social media channels.  And then four new films will premiere each month, beginning in April.  Viewers can continue the conversation around these short films on Twitter at #PBSIndies. This presentation is made possible in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“PBS is the home for independent films, and these short films from Independent Lens and POV nicely complement our year round independent film offerings on-air,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President Programming and Talent Management at PBS. “This collection of original digital shorts will introduce new audiences to the diverse and compelling content PBS offers from independent producers from across the country. In addition, this collection of short independent films will be a great run-up to the June launch of the Online Film Festival, which has become an annual event for short film fans.”

“ITVS is proud to contribute to the curation of short documentaries that showcase contemporary storytelling and help define this genre in a digital age,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Executive Producer of Independent Lens. “The collection complements Independent Lens and POV‘s on-air format and highlights the diverse quality content we see on these award-winning PBS series.”

“Independent film is no longer just film,” said Adnaan Wasey, Executive Producer of POV Digital. “POV is excited to showcase the work of artists who are combining nonfiction media with the power of digital technology to create a new art form and engage the public.”

The six films premiering today are:

Here and Away
 Here and Away

The Lucky Dip (Independent Lens/ITVS)In this charming stop-motion animated film, meet a little girl in a stormy seaside town who encounters a magical amusement arcade rabbit and the foreboding Pin Man. The film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/lucky-dip [and see below]

Here and Away (Independent Lens/ITVS):  Two people — an old man living on a small island and a young woman living in one of the world’s biggest cities — describe why no other place on earth could ever be home. The beautifully shot film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/here-and-away

Home (Independent Lens/ITVS): Take a bittersweet, evocative journey through the filmmaker’s childhood home, which was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and mistakenly torn down a year later. The film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/home

From Mr. Smith's Peach Seeds
From Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds

Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds (POV): Meet the retired meter reader and cattle rancher who has carved hundreds of peach seeds into hummingbirds, stingrays, gospel choirs, entire villages, and even a baseball stadium. The film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/mr-smiths-peach-seeds

Wood (POV)Follow the journey of timber from the forest to the sawmill, and meet the working men who guide it along the way. The film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/wood

Paraiso (POV)Experience the danger that immigrant window cleaners face each day as they risk their lives rappelling down Chicago’s tallest skyscrapers. The film is available here: http://www.pbs.org/indiefilms/shorts/paraiso/

Each page linked above has a short Q&A with the filmmakers, too.

PBS Online Film Festival Returns

The PBS Online Film Festival, featuring more than 25 short films, will kick off Monday, June 16 and run through Thursday, July 31. In addition to partners ITVS and POV, the Festival will include works from and collaborations with diverse public television producers including Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Vision Maker Media, National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC), and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC).

In addition, PBS will collaborate with PBS member stations to showcase the best in locally-produced independent films, including KQED (San Francisco), KLRU (Austin, TX), Houston PBS, Alaska Public Media, Vermont PBSArkansas Educational Television, CET/ThinkTV (Cincinnati/Dayton), WCVE Richmond (Virginia) and Louisiana Public Television.

“As the demand for video content on the web continues to grow, the PBS Online Film Festival is a great example of how PBS and our partners are experimenting with new formats and platforms to reach diverse audiences,” said Eric Freeland, senior director, digital programming. “Since its launch, the PBS Online Film Festival has been a popular online event and we look forward to offering viewers captivating short films this summer.”

See blog post on the festival from our friends at POV as well.

Craig Phillips

Craig is the digital content producer for Independent Lens, based in San Francisco. He is a film nerd, cartoonist, classic film poster collector, wannabe screenwriter, and owner of/owned by cats.