Starting today, the fourth season of FUTURESTATES debuts a new futuristic episode from seven cutting-edge indie filmmakers every Wednesday, kicking off with today’s Elliot King is Third. In 2024, gender is identified by microchip implant, and trans people like Elliot are classified “third.” But can he change his identity in an attempt to build a safer life? Director Rose Troche gives us this inside look at the inspiration behind the short film, which is currently streaming on futurestates.tv.
The conversation of Elliot King began a long while back. I would say that the seed of this idea was formed over time and various places/events. Things like involvement in LGBTQ activism, casual conversations with friends over dinner, witnessing the changing political landscape of America – these were all important in the development of this story and the character of Elliot King.
We’re fortunate enough to live in a time and place where identity doesn’t stop at male or female and that gender and sexual identity is fluid across a large spectrum. That being said, how does one reconcile the difference between self-identification and when a government defines it for you? I’ve never believed in outing someone. It’s something that should happen when a person is ready.
Elliot King began as a question of giving other people the power to make those choices for you and the consequences of that. This film is an exploration of how pressure and time can be extremely transformative powers in a modern society. Continue reading →
It is time to take a hard look at the message contemporary media is sending to children and young adults. Guess Who? teaches children ages 6 to 9 to challenge gender stereotypes through the use of video and educational curriculum.
“Media images are a powerful force in shaping our perceptions of men and women. The stark gender inequality in media aimed at little children is significant, as television and movies wield enormous influence on them as they develop a sense of their role in the world. And because young kids tend to watch the same TV shows and movies repeatedly, negative stereotypes get imprinted again and again,” said Geena Davis, Academy® Award-winning actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Student producers at the University of Southern California, Boston University, Columbia College, Lipscomb University, and Webster University worked with the Institute to create the shorts, which will air on public television stations nationwide and are also featured online by PBS’ Emmy Award Winning series, Independent Lens.
On April 19th, Davis will be giving the keynote address to open the 7th annual West Hollywood’s Women’s Leadership Conference: Unlimited Opportunities – Knowledge. Power. Community. The conference includes a special screening of the Oscar nominated film, The Invisible War, which will be preceded by the Guess Who? short, “The Soldier,” produced by USC. The event includes a panel discussion led by PBS SoCal’s Maria Hall Brown and features filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, along with subject Alison Gil.
We were first encouraged to create a game at the BAVC Producers’ New Media Institute. Our research found that half of girls ages 8 to 12 play games online. The most popular “girl games” center on themes like cooking, shopping, makeup, and dating, and the default protagonist of most other games is a white male. This lack of representation discourages girls and women from participating in the gaming community – as either consumers or creators.
While making the film, we became aware of how few women occupy leadership positions – fewer than 15 percent! – in politics, business, government and the media. Despite the gains of the women’s movement, we still live in a world where girls are rarely protagonists, let alone shown as strong, smart, or bold. Girls are constantly bombarded by messages and media representations that put them into narrow, stereotyped boxes and limit their choices. Too few girls have risen to be leaders in business, politics, government, or media.
Our hope is that WONDER CITY will undermine these problematic stereotypes and gender limitations by immersing players in a world that represents a more realistic diversity in race, gender, and body image. By empowering tweens to adopt their own superhero identity, they become agents of their own values. Continue reading →
In addition to co-founding his own extraordinary organization, Working Films, Robert West worked for ITVS in the late 1990s as one of our field organizers in what was then our Community Connections Project (later rebranded and significantly enhanced as Community Cinema). During the years that Robert was a part of the ITVS enterprise, he brought a level of commitment and sophistication to the art of community engagement – or as he later dubbed it “reel engagement.” Those of us who had the great pleasure of working with Robert during those years saw first hand his deep commitment to supporting social issue documentaries and connecting people and organizations in a way that resulted in creating real change. He was an unstoppable force then, and he remains one today.
Robert has been a visionary and a leader in the intersections of media and public engagement. Last fall, he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and terminal brain cancer. We at ITVS and IndependentLens, along with countless colleagues who have been beneficiaries of his work, were devastated by the news. Not surprisingly, in the months since then, Robert has earned our even deeper admiration for the dignity, humor, and grit he has shown. Someone wise once wrote, “A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a dream is drudgery. But dreams and tasks together are the hope of the world.” Robert epitomizes “the hope of the world” through his courage, his action, and his contributions – back in the day at ITVS, at Working Films, and with all the films and filmmakers he has helped. Continue reading →
Read the poem featured in this week’s broadcast of Kind Hearted Woman, a David Sutherland film about Robin Poor Bear, a mother on a journey to heal the wounds of abuse and protect her children from the same fate. Join our online forum and screening today at 11am PT / 2pm ET to meet and chat live with Robin. Moderating the conversation will be Shirley Sneve, Executive Director of Vision Maker Media. Login to the screening at https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/na5nd.
Airing on public television throughout April, Bitter Seeds is an examination of the debate surrounding biotechnology and the future of farming.
Biotechnology is changing the way farming is done all over the world. Advocates believe the “New Green Revolution” is the only way to provide sufficient food for the world’s growing population while opponents raise environmental concerns and fear that GMOs drive small-scale farmers off the land. Bitter Seeds explores the controversy — from a village in India that uses genetically modified seeds to U.S. government agencies that promote them.
Part 1 of Kind Hearted Woman, a pillar program of the Women and Girls Lead campaign, premiered last night on the PBS series Independent Lens. Viewers met Robin Poor Bear and her family through the lens of independent filmmaker David Sutherland. The candid portrait pays tribute to one family’s resilience, strength, and courage in the face of abuse and injustice. Hear from Robin in her own words about why she and her family chose to participate in a film that closely documents the struggles of domestic violence in the Native American community. Tune in to FRONTLINE tonight at 9/8c to watch Part 2 of Kind Hearted Woman (check local listings).
It is with a humble heart that I welcome you into my life. Please know that witnessing my story may trigger intense reactions in those who are still in situations of abuse and recovery. Please also know you are not alone. You are the reason I chose to participate in this film, because I made a promise to myself that if others were inspired to find help and gain a better understanding, then this film would be worth doing.
Throughout my entire life, I have struggled with the aftershock of trauma from my childhood experiences of sexual abuse. I had no idea who “Robin” was, certainly no idea who “Kind Hearted Woman” (my Native American name) was. I struggled with the question, why? Why was I abused over and over and over again?
I struggled until, one night after I had prayed and asked, why? I had a dream (vision) of someone dying in the family and everyone in the house knew what had happened to the person but would not tell. They would not say anything when the police came and questioned everyone. Then, right before they left, I finally found the strength to open my mouth and say “I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.” When I woke up, I knew then and there that I needed to make the commitment to do the film. I needed to bear witness to my own life so that others would learn from my experience and know that there is a way out of the darkness.
Once I made that decision, I lost certain family members and had no idea of what was to come ahead for me. I never anticipated that my children would be taken and kept from me; in my culture it is not acceptable for Native American women to talk about the sexual abuse they experienced as a child. They certainly don’t go out and make a documentary film about it. Continue reading →
The fourth season of FUTURESTATES brings seven visions of the future from seven cutting-edge indie filmmakers
And we’re back! Public media’s #1 online series of independently-produced, socially conscious, science fiction short films returns for another season of forward thinking, genre-bending, no-holds-barred explorations into the future of American society. In Season Four, seven filmmakers envision our world at a crossroads, where discrimination, environmental catastrophe, visitors from the future, and even other worlds test the bonds of our humanity. Will we stand together or break apart? Nothing is inevitable but the future.
Produced by ITVS and created by established filmmakers such as Rose Troche, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, and Christopher Munch, as well as many emerging talents, FUTURESTATES films launch April 24, 2013 and will be available to stream for free at futurestates.tv and simultaneously on pbs.org every Wednesday. Don’t miss it!
In this two-part series, acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland creates an unforgettable portrait of Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Robin over three years as she struggles to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.
Join the Online Social Screening April 17 at 11am PT / 2pm ET
Watch a 90-minute version of Kind Hearted Woman with a live audience during our online social screening Wednesday, April 17th at 11am PT / 2pm ET. Chat with advocates, survivors, and supporters to find ways to get involved in ending the crisis of violence against women and children. Join the screening at bit.ly/KindHearted.
Filmmakers of all stripes are encouraged to apply to San Francisco Film Society’s six-month and year-long FilmHouse residencies. Though Bay Area dwellers are given priority, anyone older than 18 with a video budget less than $3 million is eligible! Early deadline: April 22.
The latest installment in MIT Open Documentary Lab’s “Should Filmmakers Learn to Code?” series is an interview with Hugues Sweeney of National Film Board of Canada. He encourages doc makers to team up with techies: “The time is for collaboration—get contaminated. What we call a ‘webdoc’ today is not about putting a doc online but using the web for all its storytelling capacities—its grammar.”
Kartemquin just added some ancient gear to its “equipment graveyard”: The Auricon Sound-On-Film Recording Amplifier. “In spite of being obsolete, obscure, and something that Kartemquin never even used, it taught us about one more way filmmakers could record sound on film and fleshed out a little more of Camera #1′s history,” Kartemquin writes.
Relatedly, Kartemquin produced a video ode to its early days of cinema verite, and the penny-pinching camera that made it possible: the custom-made 16mm crystal-sync General Camera No. II.