My So-Called Enemy, Sunday on Global Voices

This Sunday on Global Voices, filmmaker Lisa Gossels presents the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through a human lens in her documentary, My So-Called Enemy. The film begins in July 2002, when twenty-two Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls traveled to the US to participate in a ten-day women’s leadership program. My So-Called Enemy is about six of those girls and how the transformative experience of knowing their “enemies” as human beings meets with the realities of their lives at home in the Middle East over the next seven years. In this post, Gossels shares her motivation for making this film.

There’s many things that a person might look like and you’re one hundred percent positive who they are. And when you talk to them, you’re shocked that they’re completely the opposite. Like whoever looks at me, “No way you’re an Arab.” But I go like, “Oh, dude, I am an Arab!” So, don’t concentrate on the first impression. If you think you don’t like the person, approach them to know who they really are.
-Rawan (Palestinian, Muslim)

by Lisa Gossels, Director

When I introduce My So-Called Enemy at screenings, I always say that making the film was an eight-year journey of both learning and unlearning for me – and a stripping away of personal narratives that I was raised with.  My hope as a documentarian is that audiences will experience some of that same transformation when they watch the movie.

I live in downtown Manhattan and shortly after 9/11, I remember engaging in some heated political conversations with close friends about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. When I tried to express any nuance in those discussions, I came to understand how wars could be fought on words and how easy it is to reduce conflicts to black and white terms. At a conference two months earlier, I had the privilege of meeting Melodye Feldman (the founder of Building Bridges for Peace), and four participants from her just-completed summer program. After listening to the girls’ dramatic stories about how the program had changed them, I begged Melodye to let me film her program the next year! I was excited that Building Bridges for Peace empowers teenage girls because, as Nicholas Kristof wrote, “Focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism.” Continue reading

Ask the Expert: Writing the ITVS Treatment

Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted an informative webinar last week, reviewing the new Open Call submission process and providing insight into writing the ITVS treatment. This archived webinar is available for those who were unable to attend or are looking to brush up on their treatment knowledge. 

Treatment Webinar from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

“Writing the ITVS Treatment” was the first in a series of webinars ITVS is hosting in an effort to provide more resources for filmmakers applying to Open Call. The following weekly webinars will be held in the lead up to this year’s deadline:

July 17th
Work-in-Progresses That Work Webinar (https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/q19c8)

July 24th
ITVS Budgeting Basics Webinar

July 31st
Open Call Live Chat

Please note, ITVS will be accepting Open Call applications through Friday, August 8th. For more information about the Open Call initiative or ITVS funding in general, please go to the updated funding pages on our website. And stay tuned to our blogTwitter and Facebook!

Travel the World with the New Season of Global Voices!

ITVS is excited to announce the lineup for the seventh season of Global Voices, the critically acclaimed international documentary series premiering on the WORLD Channel (check local listings).

Travel the world from your living room with the latest season of Global Voices. Airing on the WORLD Channel, season seven kicks off on June 1st with 18 weeks of international documentaries made by independent filmmakers from around the world.

The seventh season of Global Voices opens with the U.S. premiere of Miss Nikki & The Tiger Girls, filmmaker Juliet Lamont’s intimate portrait of a spirited young Australian band manager as she tries to empower Myanmar’s first all-girl band to speak out in one of the world’s most repressive regimes. If you think it’s hard making it as a female pop group, try doing it with a military dictatorship breathing down your neck! Continue reading

Decisions on Deadline: Online Game Puts Ethics to the Test

“My goal…is to engage the general public in a conversation about public faith in the media, media ethics, and why we need to support institutional journalism even in this era of democratized media.”
– Samantha Grant, filmmaker

Recently Independent Lens premiered the film, A Fragile Trust, the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism.

Inspired by the film, Decisions on Deadline takes the story to another level with a fast-paced game that puts players in the shoes of working journalists as they report on the daily drama of life in Southside, a fictional American town.

We asked producers Samantha Grant and Brittney Shepherd about their foray into making games, their hopes for impact, and ethics and journalism in the digital age.

How did the film, A Fragile Trust, inspire the game?

Samantha Grant (SG): I was a BAVC MediaMaker fellow in 2011, and it was there, during that fellowship, that I first dreamed up the idea for a journalism ethics game. Brittney was attending the fellowship with me, as the co-producer of the film, and at one point during a presentation on gaming, I turned to her as said ‘Yes! A Game!” I wanted to make the game because I realized that the film I was making was bringing up a lot of problems in the field of journalism without offering any solutions. I’m the type of person who, when I see a problem, I immediately start thinking about solutions. Continue reading

ITVS Snags Four Peabody Awards!

Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the George Foster Peabody Award is one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.

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Independent Lens programs The House I Live InHow to Survive a Plague, and The Invisible War, in addition to the ITVS-funded Latino Americans series, were among the films honored with a Peabody Award this year.

Congratulations to the filmmakers on this incredible achievement! This brings the total of Peabody awards for ITVS films to 29. Continue reading

Celebrate Women’s History Month with #SheDocs!

March kicks off the second annual #SheDocs, an online film festival showcasing 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women and their accomplishments in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The festival is presented by ITVS’s Women and Girls Lead campaign and sponsored by Eileen Fisher, Inc.

Female protagonists in film are few and far between. According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, women have been consistently underrepresented as main characters for at least six decades. In 2013, females accounted for only 33% of all characters in the top 100 grossing films and only 11% featured women in leadership positions.

Women and Girls Lead is proud to combat these gender stereotypes and misrepresentations with the second annual #SheDocs online film festival, a collection of 12 documentaries highlighting extraordinary women working to close the gender gap and fight inequality. This month-long, free event presents films by prominent independent filmmakers and shines a spotlight on women who are working to transform their lives, their communities, and the world. Continue reading

Your Open Call Questions Answered

ITVS Programming Managers N’Jeri Eaton and Jorge Trelles hosted an informative live chat on Wednesday to answer any questions for the Open Call funding initiative.

ITVS will be accepting applications through Friday, January 17th. While the chat has come and gone, check out the archived conversation for helpful submission tips and insights!

For more information about ITVS funding initiatives, please click here.

Tips & Tools for Open Call Applications

In response to the growing demand for submission resources, the ITVS Programming Department hosted two informational webinars for filmmakers submitting for Open Call funding.

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Throughout the year, hopeful applicants have a tendency to bombard the ITVS Programming Department with questions regarding their submissions to various funding initiatives. This year, Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted two webinars offering insight on the process and firsthand advice for filmmakers for their treatments and work samples.

The first webinar was devoted to the art of treatment writing, where Eaton was joined by ITVS-funded filmmakers Christine Turner (Homegoings) and Llew Smith (Denial: An American Dilemma).  The filmmakers shared excerpts from their treatments and answered questions from the webinar participants.  You can watch the full webinar below:

Treatment Writing Webinar 12-9-13-vimeo from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

Next, ITVS hosted an OVEE screening featuring three 10-minute work samples that had been recently funded by ITVS: Samantha Grant’s A Fragile Trust, Juli Vizza’s Nine to Ninety, and Jamie Meltzer’s Freedom Fighters.  Due to clearance rights issues, we are unable to post the work samples, but you can read a transcript of the informative chat here.

And, as an extra bonus, we have a revised edition of our guide to Writing an ITVS Treatment. Continue reading

ITVS Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

ITVS and PBS offer viewers the opportunity to explore the rich and vibrant history and cultural contributions of Native Americans throughout the year, but this November offers a special slate of new and encore programs in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

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This November, Independent Lens is shining a spotlight on Native American culture with two new films. Premiering Monday, November 18th, Indian Relay documents an unheralded aspect of modern-day Native American life and what it takes to win one of the more exciting forms of horse racing. From the bitter cold of winter to the heat of summer, this lively documentary follows teams from three different tribes as they compete across a grueling season. Then on November 25th, Young Lakota takes viewers to South Dakota, where abortion politics bring political turmoil to the doorstep on the Pine Ridge Reservation and three young idealists, along with the tribe’s first female president, must decide how far they will go to change politics.

Throughout the month, Community Cinema and Women and Girls Lead continues to celebrate Native American Heritage Month by showcasing additional films featuring outstanding women leaders. These documentaries are available on PBS Video and additional online screenings will be offered using OVEE – the social screening platform for watching PBS content and engaging in meaningful discussions around films. Continue reading

Check Out the American Graduate Shorts!

The Graduates/Los Graduados explores the national high school dropout crisis through the eyes of six Latino students. While the two-part special airs Monday, October 28th and November 4th, audiences can also watch five additional short films online, each showcasing additional challenges faced by today’s Latino youth. 

The five short films are part of the American Graduate public media initiative, supported by Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis. These shorts (which include Can’t Hold Me Back, I Really Want to Make It, Immigrant High, and Skipping Up) collectively showcase a diverse array of determined Latino adolescents, from Oakland to Detroit, New York to San Antonio, who have all struggled to overcome challenges — gang violence, drugs, poverty, young motherhood, and language barriers — as they keep their eyes on the prize: a high school diploma.

Watch all five shorts after the jump! Continue reading