In Loving Memory of Patrick Baroch

We have lost a beloved colleague and a dear friend. Patrick Baroch, ITVS’s National Engagement Consultant in Seattle, passed away last week in Port Orchard, Washington.

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The loss to ITVS and the world-at-large is immeasurable. In his role organizing Community Cinema screenings in the Pacific Northwest for the past nine years, Patrick cultivated a vibrant community of partners who collaborated with him to present memorable events that left a lasting impact on those who participated. Beyond his work in the Northwest, Patrick guided and supported 20 other ITVS partner organizations across the country in producing local engagement activities inspired by our documentaries. He approached his work with creative zeal, warmth, intelligence, and humor. Words cannot express how much he will be missed. 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

A New Season of Community Cinema is Upon Us!

The new season of Community Cinema will screen six documentaries in more than 100 cities across the country, in addition to hosting online social screenings through the innovative OVEE platform.

The 2013-14 season of Community Cinema officially launched in September, offering an exciting slate of films and new ways to participate. First up, partners are screening the two part series The Graduates/Los Graduados prior to its Independent Lens broadcast premiere dates on Monday, October 28 and November 4 (check local listings). The series features first-hand perspectives on the challenges facing Latino and Latina high school students from across the U.S.

The Graduates/Los Graduados is the first entirely bilingual English-Spanish Community Cinema engagement campaign, with resources including an incredibly creative and engaging Youth Action Guide designed to get young people involved in increasing their school-wide graduation rates. At screenings, a few lucky educators and youth leaders will get to take home their own DVDs with the films, short format modules, and tools to help bring other important stakeholders into the conversation. With the support of CPB’s American Graduate initiative behind The Graduates/Los Graduados, the Community Cinema screenings through October will help start the school year off right with impactful, solution-oriented discussions on education and equality. Continue reading

One Educator’s Take on Teaching Gender Oppression

ITVS Community Classroom and the film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide made a big splash at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in Seattle in November. This is the largest national gathering of social studies educators, drawing more than 3,500 people. ITVS hosted a screening of excerpts from the film to a crowd of more than 700 and Sheryl WuDunn gave a keynote address before the screening. NCSS awarded the honor of their national endorsement for the curriculum Community Classroom developed around the film. U.S. Department of Education Ambassador fellow Lisa Clarke moderated a panel discussion with representatives from local and national NGOs, and writes here about the importance of bringing this content into social studies curriculum nationwide.

The Half the Sky panel at the National Council for the Social Studies in Seattle, WA.

How many of you were born from mothers? This question, asked by Heidi Breeze from One by One at the 2012 NCSS Conference in Seattle, pointed to a paradox; if we all have a biological mother, then why is it so difficult to discuss maternal health issues in our classes? As a teacher, I’ve had conversations with my colleagues about if and how to discuss issues affecting women and girls in my contemporary world issues class. Our concerns included whether it is cognitively and developmentally appropriate to raise these issues – involving human sexuality, pervasive violence, and unsettling images – in our high school classrooms. Could we do so without portraying women as passive victims? Continue reading

Solar Mamas Inspires Audience Engagement

Solar Mamas is an inspiring and moving film about Rafea, a beautiful, strong-willed 32-year-old Jordanian mother of four, traveling outside of her village for the first time in order to attend Barefoot College’s solar engineering program. India’s Barefoot College, where rural, poor, and often illiterate women from around the world, offers them a rare opportunity to receive an education that teaches them how to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable.

Part of Why Poverty? and Women and Girls Lead, it premiered on Independent Lens and is currently screening nationwide as part of ITVS’s Community Cinema screening series. If you missed both of these chances to watch Solar Mamas, it’s not too late: it is streaming online at PBS Video.

If you are inspired to take action after watching the film, the Community Cinema website is featuring suggested actions you can take to help others like Rafea work towards a greener more prosperous world. Organizations such as SELF, SEED and My Hero Projects concentrate to help those living in poverty, supporting innovative small-scale, and locally driven entrepreneurship. Continue reading

Solar Mamas Makes Waves in Philadelphia

The screening of Solar Mamas held at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) on Saturday, November 3, was a huge success for the ITVS Community Cinema program. ITVS National Engagement Consultant Sara Zia Ebrahimi gave us this rundown of events as they unfolded in Philadelphia, PA. Solar Mamas premieres tonight (November 5) on Independent Lens 10 PM (check local listings).

Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) is one of a small handful of old renovated theaters in the Philadelphia area suburbs that has been revived in the past decade. Since 2002, it has been a pillar in the region’s independent film scene from screening indie films to offering film analysis classes to their “open screen” series, which allows local filmmakers to share new work on the big screen. For the past three years, Philadelphia Area Community Cinema has partnered with BMFI to bring quality independent documentaries to audiences with screenings including Between The FoldsThe Calling, and the most recent screening of Solar Mamas. Continue reading

Half the Sky Inspires Audiences in Chicago

Panelists Rachel Durchslagm, Jane M. Saks, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Serena Chen Low, Sheherazade Tillet, Kathy Im, and Naomi Walker.  Photo credit: Fred Hickler

Chicago Cultural Center’s screening of Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide was a huge success with over 300 people in attendance  Naomi Walker, ITVS National Engagement Consultant, gives a rundown of the events as they unfolded in Chicago, IL.

On Saturday, September 15th at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Community Cinema, WTTW Channel 11, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presented a special preview screening of Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The screening was followed by a discussion and Agents of Change Expo. Over 300 people came to witness, participate, take action, and commit themselves to becoming agents of change on issues facing women and children everywhere.

Kathy Im from MacArthur Foundation set the perfect tone, talking about the Foundation’s great work and how people can get involved in ways both big and small. K. Sujata, President of the Chicago Foundation for Women shared stories about the amazing women she met in her years at Apna Ghar, and how gratifying it is to be able to support the work of everyday heroines here in Chicago, people who are committed to being agents of change, much like Amie in Sierra Leone and Somaly in Cambodia.

After viewing the preview of Half the Sky, which showed Amie Kandeh fighting for victims of rape in Sierra Leone and Somaly Mam, offering young girls and women forced into the sex trade a chance at another life in Cambodia, the audience was eager to learn ways to get involved and to hear about people in Chicago who have taken that leap. Continue reading

Announcing the Seventh Season of Community Cinema

Drum roll, please…. ITVS is excited to announce the seventh season of Community Cinema, which offers free screenings for communities nationwide!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide kick starts the seventh season of Community Cinema

Join Community Cinema this season as they kick-off the screening series with Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Maro Chermayeff. This landmark documentary miniseries (based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn) follows six actress-advocates — America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde — as they travel to Africa and Asia and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions.

Community Cinema takes on diverse issues from current news headlines, such as As Goes Janesville, Brad Lichtenstein’s three-year chronicle about the debate over the future of America’s middle class, a debate that has become a pitched battle over unions in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin; Macky Alston’s Love Free or Die, a portrait of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom, whose 2003 elevation in the New Hampshire diocese ignited a worldwide firestorm in the Anglican Communion; and Soul Food Junkies, Byron Hurt’s personal look at the black community’s love affair with soul food, its significance, and its health consequences. Continue reading

Oakland Rallies Behind The Interrupters

Last week, Community Cinema broke records at the Oakland Museum of California with more than 450 audience members in attendance for The Interrupters.  The documentary, by filmmaker Steve James, will premiere Tuesday February 14 on PBS’ FRONTLINE. Watch a clip from the Community screening in Oakland, below:

In partnership with KQED, The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Youth ALIVE!, the Urban Peace Movement, and a host of other youth organizations represented, the film showed to a standing room only packed house in two theaters.

Youth were at the center of the discussion and made up the majority of the audience.  The panel included Ameena Matthews and Eddie Bocanegra, Violence Interrupters featured in the film.

Special Screening of “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” Wednesday in Los Angeles

Community Cinema and The Museum of Tolerance, in association with The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum, will be presenting a special screening of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock Wednesday, February 1 in Los Angeles.

The film will be followed by a discussion with Sharon La Cruise (filmmaker), Terrence Roberts, Ph.D. (one of the Little Rock Nine), and Larry Earl (Executive Director of The Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum). Continue reading