Sentencing Children Part 1: Cyntoia’s Story

16-year-old Cyntoia Brown, who was forced into a life of prostitution and feared for her safety, was arrested in 2004 for the murder of a 43-year-old man. She was tried in adult court and sentenced to life. Filmmaker Dan Birman followed her case from the Nashville trial to her incarceration at TN Prison for Women. … READ MORE

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Season premiere! Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, Chasing Trane brings saxophone great John Coltrane to life, as a man and an artist. The film is the definitive look at the boundary-shattering musician whose influence continues to this day. 

Forever Pure – Full Film

Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, formed in 1936, is the most popular and controversial soccer team in Israel, a symbol of right-wing politics and the only club in the Premier League never to sign an Arab player. Midway through the 2012-13 season a secretive transfer by the owner, Russian-Israeli oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, brought two Muslim players … READ MORE

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes – Garbage Jail – Clip

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, Charisse Davidson, a Missouri woman, tells the story of how she came to spend three days in jail for failing to place a lid on her garbage can. She had the choice of paying a steep fine for a ticket she never … READ MORE

Nine Great Documentaries About Women Activists

As Women’s History Month continues, we’re shining the spotlight on women activists who faced down injustice, pioneered paths for other women and girls, or have fought heroically trying to save the world. Although the women on this list focused on different arenas, in the end they’re all inevitably linked. As feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote … READ MORE

Accidental Courtesy

African American musician Daryl Davis has a peculiar, controversial passion: meeting and befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan in an attempt to change their minds and forge racial conciliation, one racist at a time.

History or Hate: America’s Controversial Monuments to White Supremacy

The thing about claiming territory and property is that it takes up space, and taking up space literally makes a huge statement; it becomes a platform for discussing who built something there, and why. So when black musician Daryl Davis shares his collection of former KKK members’ robes and his hopes of opening a “Museum … READ MORE

Birth of a Movement Full Film

The story of William Monroe Trotter, the nearly forgotten editor of a Boston black newspaper who helped launch a nationwide movement in 1915 to ban Hollywood’s first blockbuster movie, the later controversial The Birth of a Nation.

Racial Pornography

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Birth of a Movement, the concept of “racial pornography” is discussed alongside startling scenes from D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. The danger of racial pornography is that it “makes people’s fantasies [about race] literal,” fantasies that in Griffith’s film involve exaggerated scary caricatures of blackness.

D.W. Griffith: Son of the South

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Birth of a Movement, we learn about the childhood of iconic silent filmmaker D.W. Griffith, director of Birth of a Nation, who was born 10 years after the end of the Civil War. He grew up in a South that was romanticized for him through folklore despite … READ MORE

The Clansman

In this excerpt from the Independent Lens documentary Birth of a Movement, director D.W. Griffith, “at the top of his game,” is introduced to the book The Clansman by Thomas Dixon. When The Clansman became a stage play, its pro-KKK, “viciously racist” point of view resulted in protests and race riots — foreshadowing what was … READ MORE

Daryl Davis Meets Kwame Rose

In this excerpt from Independent Lens documentary Accidental Courtesy, musician Daryl Davis talks with Black Lives Matter activist and speaker Kwame Rose about Davis’s controversial hobby of collecting the robes and hoods of Ku Klux Klan members. Rose is skeptical but interested as Davis defends the fact that he’s befriended some of these men who … READ MORE