January 25 – Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Executive Producer

Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015  and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at  Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.

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

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January 25 – *Hale County, This Morning, This Evening, Director RaMell Ross

Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, recent winner of the Gotham Award for Best Documentary, has made his directorial debut with one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year — Hale County This Morning, This Evening. An inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people, the film looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.. RaMell Ross met Quincy when he was teaching in a GED program in Greensboro, Alabama, and met Daniel when he was coaching basketball at a local high school. He shot over 1300 hours of footage over five years, which was then edited down into the final film. Director RaMell Ross stops by to talk about his meticulously assembled, ethereal ode to Black lives in Hale County, Alabama.

For news and updates go to: halecountyfilm.com

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The film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 11, 2019, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS

*Shortlisted – 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary

94% on Rotten Tomatoes

“At every juncture, Ross elects for ambiguity and poses a question to the viewer to answer how black bodies are viewed, encouraging the audience to perform the labour of challenging their expectations.” – Melissa Vincent, Globe and Mail

“You could call it a transcendental scrapbook, because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies. It turns the audience into direct receptors of experience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“…the cinematic equivalent of a memory quilt, woven together with a deep love of community, comprised of intimate though disparate moments from others’ lives, and poetically comforting despite its historically weighty components.” – Jordan M. Smith, Film School Rejects

“Hale County is the type of film designed to violate common rules of cinema. Story gives way to lyricism; there’s little dialogue, minimal plot, minutes upon minutes of pastoral imagery…Ross’s lens captures a reality that’s rarely seen by the human eye.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

Monrovia, Indiana – Director Frederick Wiseman

Located in mid-America, MONROVIA, INDIANA, (population 1,063) founded in 1834, is primarily a farming community. MONROVIA, INDIANA is about the day-to-day experiences living and working in Monrovia, with emphasis on community organizations and institutions, religion and daily life in this farming community. These towns were once the backbone of American life. While their number and populations have shrunk, the importance of rural America as a formative center of American politics and values was demonstrated in the 2016 presidential election. The film explores the conflicting stereotypes and illustrates how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, generosity and authenticity are formed, experienced and lived. MONROVIA, INDIANA gives a complex and nuanced view of daily life in Monrovia and provides some understanding of a rural, mid-American way of life that has always been important in America but whose influence and force have not always been recognized or understood in the big cities on the east and west coasts of America and in other countries. Since  1967,  Frederick  Wiseman  has  directed  42 documentaries — dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human  experience in a wide  variety  of  contemporary social  institutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGH  SCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LA  DANSE,  BALLET, CENTRAL PARK, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, BELFAST, MAINE, and EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library. At the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony Frederick Wiseman received an Honorary Award (Governors Awards) for a lifetime of brilliant filmmaking. He joins us to talk about his latest cinematic treasure, Monrovia Indiana.

 

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For news and updates on all of Frederick Wiseman’s work go to: zipporah.com

“He’s arguably the most brilliant, brave and innovative person working in his field.” – Terry Atkinson, Los Angeles Times

“Rigorously shot, impeccably edited and at times startling in their beauty, these films usher us into often otherwise anonymous spaces and lives, and help make the invisible visible.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Social Media: facebook.com/pages/Zipporah Films

90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The result is surprisingly companionable and enjoyable, an unhurried look at a location that is in no kind of rush, a place that is concerned most of all with preserving the way it’s always been.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on a pro-gun, pro-God Midwestern town and gives us a landmark view of what it looks like to live in Trump’s America.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“A calmly analytical film in which-as ever in Wiseman’s work-extended discussions and public debates are developed with an absorbing dramatic power.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“The unavoidable political implications of “Monrovia, Indiana” give its observations an undeniable urgency.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

The Last Race, Director Michael Dweck

Long Island was the birthplace of American stock car racing. At its peak, there were over forty racetracks on Long Island, but today, only one remains: Riverhead Raceway. This quarter-mile track somehow managed to slip through the cracks as progress transformed Long Island from a stretch of sand with sleepy main streets and mom and pop farm stands, to a maze of highways connecting shopping malls to buy-in-bulk shopping centers.  When it was built in 1949, the racetrack sat on the edge of a small country road surrounded on every side by miles of farmland. The land the track sits on is valued at well over ten million dollars, while the money that it generates in ticket sales on summer weekends is barely enough to keep the lights on. The fact that the Riverhead Raceway remains open defies the laws of capitalism, and the only thing standing in the way of the bulldozers are 87-year-old Barbara and Jim Cromarty. Barbara and Jim bought the track in 1977 and they continue to run it even as multi-million dollar offers roll in, tempting them toward a well-deserved retirement. Barbara and Jim fight to keep it open because they understand that Riverhead carries the burden of being the last bastion of stock car racing on Long Island, and when Riverhead goes, it’s all over. THE LAST RACE is a cinematic portrait of a Long Island stock car race track as its 87 year-old owners struggle to maintain an American racing tradition in the face of a real estate development boom. The film merges image and sound in a unique narrative form to bring the audience into the world of grassroots racing culture and explores a story that subtly grapples with questions of blue collar American identity that have taken on a profound relevance in the current political era. Director Michael Dweck talks about the community and the loss of a place where people have come to laugh, cheer and share in the ties that bind.

 

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For news and updates go to: thelastracethefilm.com

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ONE NIGHT ONLY! Wednesday, 11/14 Exclusively at @RegalMovies

See @TheLastRaceFilm with an exclusive interview with NASCAR driver @KyleBusch and ESPN’s @MartySmithESPN. Buy tickets now! http://bit.ly/TLRRegal 

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Beautiful and Immersive” – Los Angeles Times

“Exhilarating! Dweck’s stoically composed, strangely mesmerizing film makes a strong case for the humble speedway’s soul.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“The film will likely endure as a testament to the resilience of a community dedicated to long-established racing traditions.” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“Photographer Michael Dweck captures a vanishing piece of Americana.” – Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune

“First rate!’ – IndieWire

Carrie Lozano, Director IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund

The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.

About the Enterprise Documentary Fund: 

In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.”Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund

 

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For news and updates go to: documentary.org

For updates on funding resources go to: documentary.org/funding

Bleeding Edge, Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering

America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.  Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.  

For news and updates go to: bleedingedgedoc.com/

See Bleeding Edge in a theatre

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Find out more at: bleedingedgedoc.com/resources

Also available at: netflix.com/thebleedingedge

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A terrifying eye-opener… Exposes the massive health problems caused by the $400 billion medical device industry. – The Hollywood Reporter

“You’ll wish [these interviews] were heard by every government official.” – The New York Times

“Enlightening… A shocking expose of the medical device industry… [with] unnerving immediacy.” – Indiewire

“Equally infuriating and enlightening… I yelled, ‘Oh, my God!’ multiple times while watching.” – Village Voice

Dark Money, Director Kimberly Reed

DARK MONEY, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. For decades, Montana had arguably the cleanest campaign laws in the U.S., precisely in reaction to a long history of political corruption. Its small population and rich natural resources like copper, had made it particularly vulnerable to private-industry bribery and extortion. Through this gripping story, DARK MONEY uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. This Sundance award-winning documentary is directed/produced by Kimberly Reed (PRODIGAL SONS) and produced by Katy Chevigny (E-TEAM). Kimberly joins us for a conversation on where our increasingly fragile democracy is and the very troubling place where it may be headed if dramatic measures are not taken to stop the shadowy corporate money from overwhelming our electoral process.

 

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For news and updates go to: darkmoneyfilm.com

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Q & A’s with Kimberly Reed this weekend at screenings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Damning, clear-eyed, and as gripping as any John Grisham thriller.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“There’s not a dull or dry moment in Reed’s briskly paced film about the secret assault on the American electoral and judicial process by corporations whose agenda is nothing less than the dismantling of government itself.” – Ella Taylor

“A densely packed documentary that earnestly and obsessively addresses campaign finance reform, its history and vital importance.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

“An air-raid siren of a documentary about the pernicious influence of corporate cash in American politics.” – Chris Barsanti, Film Journal International

Leave No Trace, Director Debra Granik

Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. The film is directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini and based on the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock. Director Debra Granik joins us to talk about her modern day tale of two people grappling with a sense of place, loyalty, love, and deep wounds.

 

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For news and updates go to: bleeckerstreetmedia.com/leavenotrace

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“When civilization feels threatened, starting over in the woods seems not only appealing, but maybe even necessary. Especially when seen though Granik’s discerning eye. How lucky we are to have her work.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“A profound story about love, family, loyalty, understanding, and compassion.” – Tiffany Tchobanian, Film Threat

“Minimalistic, deliberate and largely silent, “Leave No Trace” clings to each word like an endangered species. It demands patience from the audience, but that patience is richly rewarded.” – J.R. Kinnard, Seattle Times

“The heart of Leave No Trace is the rapport between the father and daughter, and McKenzie and Foster are keyed to each other’s movements, perhaps even each other’s thoughts.”- David Edelstein, New York Magazine

Half the Picture, Director Amy Adrion

HALF THE PICTURE celebrates the groundbreaking work of female film directors and investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood. The film consists of interviews with high profile women directors including Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke and Miranda July, among many others, who discuss their early careers, how they transitioned to studio films or television, how they balance having a demanding directing career with family, as well as challenges and joys along the way. HALF THE PICTURE also includes interviews with experts about gender inequality in Hollywood including the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman, Sundance Institute’s Caroline Libresco, Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, USC’s Dr. Stacy Smith and San Diego State University’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, who establish the magnitude of this employment discrimination issue as women are shut out, across the board, of an industry that systemically denies their expression and point of view. HALF THE PICTURE Director / Producer Amy Adrion joins us to talk about a unique time in the film industry where systemic change seems possible and whether, unlike previous efforts to address gender inequality in Hollywood, will this time be different?

 

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For news and updates go to: halfthepicture.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Half the Picture is a vital, comprehensive documentary on a subject that’s so fundamental to the industry it’s about, you have to wonder why dozens of movies on this scale or bigger haven’t already been made.” – Leslie Felperin

“Half The Picture is an inspiring, important documentary that should be seen by as many people as possible, particularly those who aren’t aware of the problems women face in Hollywood.” – Manon de Reeper, Film Inquiry

“Half the Picture, Amy Adrion’s no-frills documentary, offers a diligent, straightforward overview of the innumerable obstacles facing today’s female directors, both aspiring and accomplished.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat

“A platform for those who want to hear about the reality of being a woman in Hollywood from dozens of women who have lived it, it’s an invaluable resource.” – Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International

“It’s experiential revelation as advocacy filmmaking, an incisive and inviting example of the personal as political.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice

To a More Perfect Union: U.S. V. Windsor, Director Donna Zaccaro

“To A More Perfect Union: U.S. V. Windsor” shares a rich tapestry of love, marriage, and a fight for equality. The film chronicles unlikely heroes — octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, on their quest for justice. Upon the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, Windsor was forced to pay a huge estate tax bill because the government denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. Windsor became a renowned LGBTQ civil rights advocate when she chose to sue the United States government to recognize her more than 40 year union– and  won Windsor and Kaplan’s legal and personal journeys go beyond the story of this pivotal case in the marriage equality movement as Zaccaro tells the story of our journey as a culture, and as a country that promises its citizens equal rights for all. The film features interviews with notable voices in this civil rights battle, including: Roberta Kaplan (Windsor Attorney), Pam Karlan (Windsor Legal Team & Co-Director, Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic), Rosie O’Donnell (Comedian, Actor & Activist), Frank Rich (Writer-At-Large, NY Magazine),  Hilary Rosen (Communications Advisor & LGBT Activist), Richard Socarides (White House Special Assistant & Advisor to President Clinton), Matt Staver (Founder & Chairman of Liberty Counsel), Jeff Toobin (CNN Legal Analyst & New Yorker Staff Writer), Nina Totenberg (Legal Affairs Correspondent for National Public Radio), Tony West (Former Associate U.S. Attorney General), Edie Windsor (Plaintiff), Evan Wolfson (Founder & President of Freedom to Marry), among others.  Donna Zaccaro (“Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way”) joins us to talk about her intimate tale of the struggle for universal equal rights and the on-going attempts to undermine them. Director Donna Zaccaro talks about the heroic struggle by Edie Windsor and the scarring legal battles that it took to achieve this historic victory for human rights.

 

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For news and updates go to: perfectunionfilm.com

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“The film reminds us that there are individual human experiences behind the legal decisions that impact an entire country.” – Kimberly Myers, Los Angeles Times

“The film’s quiet confidence in an evolved America only tells half the story; as a result, it already feels like more like a prologue than a happy ending.” – Matthew Monagle, Ausin Chronicle

“A history lesson that doesn’t overstay its welcome.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

The Judge, Director Erika Cohn

When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. THE JUDGE offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud—her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. With unparalleled access to the courts, THE JUDGE presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Shari’a. Director and producer Erika Cohn stops by to talk about her warm, moving portrait of a dedicated professional officer of the court determined to see that men and women receive the highest level of justice.

 

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For News and updates go to: thejudgefilm.com

Find out where The Judge is screening

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

“The documentary is an inspiration to women – not just in the Middle East – who are determined to rise to the top of their professions, despite the odds being stacked against them.” – Gayle MacDonald, Globe and Mail

“There are scandalously few female-empowerment documentaries about Arab women that also aim to counter Islamophobia, which is why Erika Cohn’s “The Judge” is a welcome addition.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

“This skillfully conceived documentary focuses on a charismatic Muslim judge, a woman appointed to the Palestinian Shari’a court.” – Maria Garcia, Film Journal International

“The Judge is packed tight; it’s enlightening and suspenseful and paced for maximum enjoyment.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice