Independent Lens, Executive Producer Lois Vossen

The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise, an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: pbs.org/independentlens

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Independent Lens upcoming schedule:

Made in Boise by Beth Aala (Monday, October 28) Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.

Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen (Monday, November 4) In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.

The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan (Monday, November 11) More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.

Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld (Monday, November 18) In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.

Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16) The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a love song to one of the most memorably stunning voices that has ever hit the airwaves, Linda Ronstadt. She burst onto the 1960s folk rock music scene in her early twenties as the lead singer of the Stone Poneys, Ronstadt eventually branched out to begin her decades long career as a solo artist, touring the world selling out stadiums and, at one point, setting the record as the highest paid female artist in rock. Most remarkable to this day is her interest in and willingness to jump into new and challenging styles of music, including opera, jazz, and Mexican folk, excelling fantastically with each. Ronstadt has also been an outspoken political advocate for causes such as same-sex marriage and the inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants, never shying away from fighting for what she believes both on and off the stage. Oscar-winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, Howl, Lovelace and End Game) use deep-cut archival footage, and Ronstadt’s own astute recollections, to celebrate an artist whose desire to do justice to the songs that touched her soul made generations of fans fall in love with her – and with the sound of her voice. Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman join us to talk about a remarkable singer /artist and an even better person.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: lindaronstadtmovie.com

For more on the films of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman go to: tellingpictures.com

Social Media:

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twitter.com/RonstadtMovie

instagram.com/RonstadtMovie

“She shows herself to be one of its indispensable interpreters, as a vocalist and also as a thinker – covering a sprawling landscape with elegance, passion and insight.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“It captures the life and career of a rock ‘n’ roll star who never looked back, never apologized, never compromised.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Astutely chronicling an amazing musical career that ended prematurely due to Parkinson’s disease, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice will delight the singer’s old fans and likely make her many new ones as well.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“An excellent retrospective and celebration of Ronstadt’s trailblazing career.” – Sophia Stewart, Nonfics

Sea of Shadows, Director Richard Ladkani

A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise. SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. Director Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game, The Devil’s Miner) talks about the monumental challenge of saving a highly intelligent mammal from a desperately poor community who see the black market totoaba and the vaquita as a way to spare their family from a life of poverty and degradation.

 

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For news and updates go to: nationalgeographic.com/films/sea-of-shadows

For screening information go to: nationalgeographic.com/films/sea-of-shadows

Social Media:

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instagram.com/seaofshadows

For more about the filmmaker:

malaikapictures.com

richardladkani.com

“Sea of Shadows is truly horrifying.” Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“An environmentally conscious, unabashedly heart-grabbing exposé.” –  Guy Lodge, Variety

“Ladkani has a way with conveying just how big the stakes are and brings them to land.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“Sea of Shadows may still raise awareness about the plight of other sea creatures still under threat from illegal nets sweeping the bottom of the ocean, killing everything unfortunate enough to swim in its wake.” – Monica Castillo, Remezcla

Ice on Fire, Director Leila Conners

ICE ON FIRE, an eye-opening documentary that focuses on many never-before-seen solutions designed to slow down our escalating environmental crisis, goes beyond the current climate change narrative and offers hope that we can actually stave off the worst effects of global warming. Eleven years after Conners’ first collaboration with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio on The 11th Hour,which emphasized the problems of climate change, ICE ON FIRE instead focuses on the cutting-edge research behind today’s climate science – and the innovations aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which could pave the way for a reduction in the global temperature rise and a benefit to the planet’s life systems. ICE ON FIRE emphasizes the importance of an immediate, two-pronged approach to reversing the crisis: reducing carbon emissions through traditional renewable energy sources and new ones, like tidal energy, and implementing “drawdown” measures, focusing on methods for drawing down and sequestering carbon, including direct air capture, sea farms, urban farms, biochar, marine snow, bionic leaves and others. Director Leila Conners joins us to talk about the looming catastrophe and the emerging and encouraging techniques and technologies that can provide a sustainable path forward.

 

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For news and updates go to: www.treemedia.com

Ice on Fire is currently screening at: www.hbo.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/Tree Media Group

https://twitter.com/treemediagroup

youtube.com/channel

“Putting quibbles about pitch and approach aside… as a beginners’ guide to Arctic thaw and its consequences this is pretty exemplary stuff.” – Les;ie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter

“Ice on Fire is a “call to action” documentary. It’s an eye-opener for anyone prone to a stultifying “doomsday mentality” and that is unequivocally a good thing.” – Amy Glynn, Paste

“Should be essential viewing for anyone who plans to carry on living on the planet…” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

The Lavender Scare, Director Josh Howard

THE LAVENDER SCARE is the first documentary film to tell the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual. In 1953, President Eisenhower declared gay men and lesbians to be a threat to the security of the country and therefore unfit for government service. His directive triggered the longest witch hunt in American history. Over the next four decades, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation. But the actions of the government had an unintended effect. They inadvertently helped ignite the gay rights movement. In 1957, after thousands had lost their jobs, a Harvard-trained astronomer named Frank Kameny became the first person to fight his dismissal.  His attempts to regain his job evolved into a lifelong fight for the rights of LGBT people. The Lavender Scare is a compelling story of one man’s fight for justice. And it is a chilling reminder of how easy it can be, during a time of fear and uncertainty, to trample the rights of an entire class of people in the name of patriotism and national security. Director Josh Howard (60 Minutes) joins us to talk about Senator Joseph McCarthy, scare tactics, blind prejudice and the willful destruction of thousands of peoples lives.

 

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For news and updates go to: thelavenderscare.com

The Lavender Scare opens in Los Angeles on June 7 at the Laemmle Music Hall on June 7

Social Media:

facebook.com/Josh-Howard

“Glenn Close’s voice-over is used to try to smooth over jumps forward and backward in time, but keeping all the players here in balance proves difficult for first-time director Josh Howard. – Dan Callahan, The Wrap

“This powerful doc is sadly all too relevant.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“Thoroughly researched and evidenced, wonderfully detailed, informative and authoritative but always in touch with the human story at its heart. – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“The Lavender Scare is a must watch for everyone in today’s political climate regardless of sexual orientation.” – Beth McDonough, After Ellen

Artifishal, Director Josh Murphy

ARTIFISHAL is a film about wild rivers and wild fish. It explores the high cost – ecological, financial and cultural – of our mistaken belief that engineered solutions can make up for habitat destruction. The film traces the impact of fish hatcheries and farms, and the extraordinary amount of American taxpayer dollars wasted on an industry that hinders wild fish recovery, pollutes our rivers, and contributes to the problem it claims to solve. ARTIFISHAL also dives beneath the surface of the open-water fish farm controversy, as citizens work to stop the damage done to public waters and our remaining wild salmon. Director Josh Murphy joins us for a conversation on the devastating consequences that fish hatcheries are having on the salmon and other native species, the damage being done vital eco-systems and the enormous cost of a failed system.

Call to Action:

Wild salmon and southern resident killer whales are on the brink of extinction. Now a misguided plan to feed the starving whales with hatchery salmon will push both endangered species closer to the edge, while costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year. Hatcheries and over harvest, along with net-pen fish farms and dams, are key contributors to the catastrophic decline of wild Chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. Now, Washington state’s Orca Task Force recommendations include a plan to “feed the orcas” with 60 million more hatchery salmon per year. The proposed budget requests up to $87 million dollars to fund this plan for 10 years. Science tells us this won’t work: orcas need larger wild salmon, while adding more hatchery fish further weakens the wild-salmon gene pool. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have the power to make this change. Patagonia’s petition calls on NOAA Regional Administrator Barry Thom, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, and our elected decision makers to stop wasting money on failed plans and invest in science-based solutions: reduce hatchery production, remove dams and change how we harvest salmon.

 

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For more on Artifishal go to: patagonia.com/artifishal

For more on Josh Murphy go to: Liarsandthieves.tv/josh-murph

“Exposes the devastating reality of fish farming on the wild salmon population and wider ecosystem.” – Ed Gibbs, Little White Lies

The Serengeti Rules, Director Nicolas Brown

Academy Award-winning Passion Pictures and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios present one of the most important but untold science stories of our time, THE SERENGETI RULES  is a tale with profound implications for the fate of life on our planet. Beginning in the 1960s, a small band of young scientists, Bob Paine, Tony Sinclair, Mary E. Power, John Terborgh, Jim Estes, and Sean B. Carroll headed out into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity about how nature works. Immersed in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth—from the majestic Serengeti to the Amazon jungle; from the Arctic Ocean to Pacific tide pools—they discovered a single set of rules that govern all life. Now in the twilight of their eminent careers, these five unsung heroes of modern ecology share the stories of their adventures, reveal how their pioneering work flipped our view of nature on its head, and give us a chance to reimagine the world as it could and should be. Director Nicolas Brown joins us to talk about the far-reaching implications of the groundbreaking work done by Bob Paine on the importance of “keystone” species and the tremendously important work done by his colleagues since then can lead to a restoration of the natural order and help humanity reverse an ecological catastrophe.

 

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For news and updates go to: theserengetirules.com

Monica Film Center – 1332 2nd Street – 1:10pm | 3:20pm | 5:30pm | 7:50pm | 10:15pm

** THE SERENGETI RULESDr. Jim Estes, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC and subject of the film with Dr John Terborgh, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Duke University also subject of the film will participate in a Q&A moderated by David Guy Elisco, Executive Producer, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios following the 7:50 pm show on Friday, 5/17 at the Monica Film Center.

Social Media:

facebook.com/SerengetiRules

twitter.com/serengetirules

instagram.com/serengetirules

100% on Rottentomatoes

“‘The Serengeti Rules’ celebrates not only the diversity and beauty of the natural world but also recognizes the transformative power of curiosity and knowledge.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times

“An absolutely riveting documentary about biodiversity and the need for humanity–its gravest threat–to reverse its course and preserve it. Difficult under the likes of Trump and the Koch’s but necessary.” Louis Proyect, counterpunch.com

“The great accomplishment of “The Serengeti Rules” is that it directs the viewer to see beauty in the way an ecologist might.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times

“It’s a film which sounds an alarm, but, unlike most similarly-themed pictures, one which permits a chink of light into the traditionally bleak narrative of man’s impact on the land.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International