OK, so maybe we’re not super excellent at keeping secrets, but we’re excitable. Finally we can tell everyone about our whole spring schedule for Independent Lens! Check out some of the amazing new films we’ve got coming at you in 2011 (and a few viewer favorites coming back for encores). We’ve got films that have been on dozens of year’s-best lists, multiple award-winners, and even one shortlisted for an Oscar.
Here’s a quick preview, and after the jump you can read capsule descriptions of the films to find about about all of the Spring 2011 titles. We bet you’ll want to swap your Tuesday night poker game for a Tuesday night film club in your living room.
NOTE: The broadcast information given may be different in your area. Always be sure to check your local listings.
January 4 at 10 PM
Men Who Swim
by Dylan Williams
In the midst of a mid-life crisis, filmmaker Dylan Williams tries to cheer himself up by joining an all-male synchronized swim team. He discovers a dozen other men struggling with the indignities of age and the uncertainty of a life half-lived. Men Who Swim looks at an unlikely brotherhood of beer bellies, wetsuits, and occasional underwater grace.
January 11 at 10 PM
Children of Haiti
by Alexandria Hammond
Even before the devastating earthquake, Haiti suffered an epidemic of more than 500,000 orphan street children, known as the “soulless” and forgotten by their own people. Children of Haiti follows three teenage boys who reflect on their country and their lives, while sharing a common dream of education, government assistance, and social acceptance.
January 18 at 10 PM
Between the Folds
by Vanessa Gould
Think origami is just paper planes and cranes? Meet a determined group of theoretical scientists and fine artists who have abandoned careers and hard-earned graduate degrees to forge new lives as modern-day paper folders. Together they reinterpret the world in paper, creating a wild mix of sensibilities towards art, science, creativity, and meaning. An encore presentation.
January 25 at 10 PM
Herb & Dorothy
by Megumi Sasaki
He was a postal clerk. She was a librarian. With modest means, this couple managed to build one of the most important modern art collections in history. Meet Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, whose shared passion and commitment defied stereotypes and redefined what it means to be an art collector. An encore presentation.
February 1 at 10 PM
For Once in My Life
by Jim Bigham
Made up of 28 musicians and singers who all have severe mental and physical disabilities, the Spirit of Goodwill Band is a raucous home away from home where members are free to display their talent, humor, and tenacity. For Once In My Life challenges preconceived notions of what it means to be disabled.
February 8 at 10 PM
When I Rise
by Mat Hames
When I Rise recounts the story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted University of Texas music student who found herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggled against the odds, and ultimately ascended to the heights of international opera.
February 15 at 10 PM
Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene
by Loren Mendell
He was a former drug addict and felon. He was also America’s first “shock jock.” Petey Greene gave voice to the unheard — speaking truth to power on his raw and uncensored TV and radio programs. His explosive language and brash style shocked the world as he battled both the system and his own demons on a journey to becoming a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history. An encore presentation.
February 22 at 10 PM
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
by Yony Leyser
An iconoclast who himself became an icon, William Burroughs explored the outer boundaries of culture and identity in the 1950s. His work was vilified by conservatives and banned by the U.S. government, but emerged to influence artists for generations to come. Burroughs’s friends and colleagues remember the public persona and the private man.
March 1 at 10 PM
Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story
by Daniel Birman
Cyntoia Brown was an average 16 year old in an American town. But a series of bad decisions ended with her killing a man who had picked her up for sex. She was sentenced to life in a Tennessee prison. This film challenges our assumptions about violence and explores how factors such as biology and family history can doom some young people from the start.
March 22 at 10 PM
Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai
by Alan Dater and Lisa Merton
How does the simple act of planting trees lead to the Nobel Peace Prize? Ask Wangari Maathai of Kenya. In 1977, she suggested rural women plant trees to address problems stemming from a degraded environment. Under her leadership, their tree-planting grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, defend human rights and promote democracy. An encore presentation.
March 29 at 10 PM
Pushing the Elephant
by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel
When civil war came to Rose’s Congolese village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her 10 children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. More than a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the U.S. where they must come to terms with the past and build a new future.
April 5 at 10:30 PM
The Desert of Forbidden Art
by Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev
The Desert of Forbidden Art is the incredible story of how a treasure trove of banned Soviet art worth millions of dollars was stashed in a far-off desert of Uzbekistan. Discover a group of visionary artists and the singular man who risked his life to rescue their work.
April 12 at 10 PM
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
by Tamra Davis
In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a wunderkind and a phenomenon. Discovered through his graffiti art in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side, he sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and later became best friends with Andy Warhol. Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in a definitive documentary.
April 19 at 10 PM
by Lucy Walker
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz creates portraits of people using found materials from the places where they live and work. His Sugar Children series portrays the deprived children of Caribbean plantation workers using the sugar their parents harvest. We meet Muniz as he embarks on his next project, inspired by the trash pickers at the largest landfill on earth.
April 26 at 10 PM
by Jeff Malmberg
After being beaten into a coma, Mark Hogancamp is left brain damaged and traumatized. He devises his own brand of therapy by constructing a 1/6th-scale World War II-era town in his backyard, and weaving complex storylines around his characters. Through Marwencol, Mark embarks on a long journey back into the real world, both physically and emotionally.
May 3 at 10 PM
A Film Unfinished
by Yael Hersonski
This haunting film about a film examines a classic Nazi propaganda movie used by historians for decades to provide insight into the realities of life in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. The recent discovery of a second reel in an East German archive has thrown the veracity and intent of the Ghetto footage into question.
May 10 at 10 PM
by Duane Baughman
As the first woman to lead an Islamic nation, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto evolved from a pampered princess to a polarizing politician in one of the most dangerous countries on Earth. Accused of rampant corruption, imprisoned, then exiled abroad, Bhutto was called back to Pakistan in 2007 as her country’s best hope for democracy. Struck down by assassins, her untimely death sent shock waves throughout the world.
May 17 at 10 PM
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo
by Jessica Oreck
Beginning in the modern day and working backward, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo explores the history of Japan’s love affair with bugs. Using insects like an anthropologist’s toolkit, the film uncovers Japanese philosophies that will shift viewers’ perspectives on nature, beauty, and life, and counter the exigencies of day-to-day life.
May 24 at 10 PM
Welcome to Shelbyville
by Kim A. Snyder
Welcome to Shelbyville is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In this one small town in the heart of America’s Bible Belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Just a stone’s throw away from Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan), longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees.
June 14 at 10 PM
by Lydia Nibley
Fred Martinez was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.