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.
“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
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.
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.Since1967,FrederickWisemanhasdirected42documentaries — dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary humanexperience in a widevarietyofcontemporary socialinstitutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGHSCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LADANSE,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.
“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
“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 American Institute of Architects (AIA) launched its fourth annual film challenge on Monday, June 18. The challenge is a part of the AIA’s “Blueprint for Better” campaign, an initiative that highlights the collaborative work of architects and civic leaders to solve some of the biggest issues facing cities today. The film challenge started in 2015 and every year participants have shot and submitted three to five-minute documentaries that shed a light on how civic leaders are working with architects to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as infrastructure, urban issues, natural disasters and housing shortages. This year, the AIA will also be premiering its new short-documentary film alongside the film challenge titled “Caño Martin Peña: A Blueprint for Better”. The film depicts the rebuilding efforts of an architect and community leader in Puerto Rico following last year’s devastating Hurricane Maria that left more than three million people without power. Submissions for the film challenge—due by 8:59 p.m. EST on Monday, Aug. 27—will be subject to two rounds of judging. The first round of winners will be selected by a panel of jurors from the media, architecture and film industries. A second round will be open for public voting to choose the “People’s Choice Winner.” Last year’s competition garnered more than 268,000 votes.Participants will have the chance to win a $5,000 grand prize that includes distribution of the film through a multitude of channels, including screenings at the Architecture and Design Film Festival on Oct. 16 in New York in addition to travel and accommodations. The “People’s Choice Winner” will receive a screening at the Chicago Ideas Festival. Other finalists will be awarded a $500 prize. American Institute of Architects At-large Director Peter Exley stops by to talk about the great work being done around the country when there is collaboration between innovative government and a committed private sector.