The Interrupters’ Ameena Matthew Battles Leukemia

Ameena in The Interrupters

Those of you who have seen the critically lauded documentary The Interrupters, an ITVS-funded film by Steve James (Hoop Dreams; Life Itself) that aired on PBS’s FRONTLINE last year, will be saddened to hear that its main subject, Ameena Matthews, is battling leukemia and lymphoma. While Ameena is no longer an employee of Ceasefire, the violence prevention organization featured in The Interrupters, she has been a vital part of Chicago’s efforts to help reduce its epidemic of gang warfare. Via our friends at Kartemquin Films, you can be proactive in lending a hand to Ameena’s fight by contributing to a campaign to cover her medical costs.

The Interrupters is also currently available to watch online for free via PBS Video.

ITVS and Independent Lens Receive 13 News and Documentary Emmy Nominations

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced this year’s nominees for the 35th annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking. And ITVS is proud to say that nine of our documentaries received 13 nominations for 2013!

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PBS received a total of 43 nominations — the most of any network — including 10 nominations for Independent Lens, 11 nominations for FRONTLINE (two for the ITVS-funded Outlawed in Pakistan), and six for POV (including Reportero), so it’s a great day all around for public media documentaries! The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014, in New York City.

“These Emmy nominations are a testament to the expemplary journalism that independent documentary filmmakers practice,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Deputy Executive Producer. “They reflect the extraordinary vitality and diversity of our vibrant independent documentary community.”

And without further ado, here are the ITVS films receiving Emmy honors: Continue reading

Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet (In Memoriam)

Maya Angelou to Be Featured in First Documentary About Her Life, on PBS’s American Masters

At the time of Maya Angelou’s death, May 28, 2014, she was participating in the first feature documentary about her life for the American Masters series, Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou this past January and production on the film continues. American Masters  looks forward to her taking her rightful place in the series, albeit posthumously.

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Our Tribute to Robert West

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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 Independent Lens, 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

Half the Sky Earns TV Academy Honors

The Independent Lens special presentation Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide will be among seven other programs to receive Television Academy Honors at the May 9th ceremony in Los Angeles.

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Recognized for personifying “Television with a Conscience,” the landmark PBS program is based on the book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The four-part series follows six actress-advocates as they travel to six countries and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.

The film premiered last October as part of public media’s Women and Girls Lead initiative. Watch the trailer for the doc after the jump. Continue reading

Using Social Media to Inspire Peaceful and Positive Change

media_millions_finalThe United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and ITVS have partnered up to present Media that Moves Millions summit on February 28, 2013 in Washington D.C. The event marks the fourth installment of the Media as Global Diplomat leadership series, aimed at leveraging global media to highlight innovative models for international conflict prevention.

Media that Moves Millions looks beyond the headlines to understand the role of social media in mass movements for peaceful social change. A gathering of tech savvy peacebuilders and change agents, the day long summit will feature many of those people and organizations at the forefront of innovation, including: Nicholas Kristof, journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes; Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children; Frank Sesno, award-winning American journalist; Matthew Perault, manager for privacy and global policy at Facebook; and Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation to the Secretary of State. Other notable speakers include president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, Kathy Calvin, CPB president and CEO Patricia Harrison, and Sally Jo Fifer, President & CEO of ITVS.

The first part of the Media that Moves Millions summit will explore campaigns that have captured the world’s attention by successfully using participatory media for social change, including the We Are All Khaled Said, Half the Sky, and Kony 2012 campaigns. Continue reading

ITVS Names Claire Aguilar as Executive Content Advisor

ITVS is happy to announce that Vice President of Programming Claire Aguilar has been named Executive Content Advisor.

In this new consulting role, Claire will provide high-level, portfolio analysis and content feedback under the direction of Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content and head of ITVS’ Content Strategy Team. With a focus on recommending content for ITVS International and selected public television series, Claire will also continue to co-curate programming for Independent Lens.

Previously, Claire served as head of ITVS’s programming department. She joined the organization in 2000 from public television station KCET/Los Angeles, where she programmed the station’s schedule and managed programming acquisitions. Earlier in her career, Claire worked as a film programmer at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, one of the leading exhibition venues for international documentary and classic Hollywood films. She has served as a programming consultant and panelist for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, and many other media and funding organizations. She has also led and participated in film juries for IDFA, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Silverdocs and Visions du Réel. Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies and a Master of Arts in Film and Television Studies from UCLA. She serves on the board of Women Make Movies, STEPS International, and the EURODOC Steering Committee.

For more information, please click here.

Social TV Makes Big Progress in 2013

By Kelsey Savage, PBS Interactive 
Originally published on the PBS Station Products & Innovation Blog

Lounging around on your couch, clicker and blanket in tow, might not seem like the most overtly social activity. Yet, these days, even when we’re spending the evening parked in front of the television, we’re able to connect with our friends immediately about a show’s plot progression. In particular, Twitter has been leading the way for developing a strong social TV landscape.

In Nielsen’s annual “Station of The Media: The Social Media Report”, social TV demonstrated a growing user base. By June of 2012, over a third of Twitter users tweeted about a program on television, with the age 35-44 demographic being the most likely to comment on a TV show. In order to measure the power of social television, Nielsen will be working with Twitter to establish “a syndicate-standard metric around the reach of the TV conservation” by fall 2013. For the first time, broadcasters will be able to get an estimate of the number of people that participated or were exposed to an online conversation about their programming.

Public Media has also been capitalizing on the growth of social TV. Most notably, tech-savy, Downton Abbey lovers can check their Twitter feeds for instant feedback about the Dowager Countess’ latest sassy remark through the #DowntonPBS hashtag. PBS has also facilitated celebrity moderators, like Austenprose (@austenprose), The Daily Beast (@televisionary), Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) and Vulture (@vulture), to join the conversation. Their second-screen remarks add another dimension to the viewing experience. They make Downton feel like more than just TV show and more like a community. Continue reading

ITVS Kicks Off the New Year With TCA Press Tour

Another Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour has come and gone, with ITVS programs taking up a significant portion of the PBS lineup! With panels for Independent Lens (featuring The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights and The House I Live In), Kind Hearted Woman (a FRONTLINE and Independent Lens co-presentation), and Women and Girls Lead partner MAKERS: Women Who Make America, the spring lineup for PBS promises to  be chock full culturally diverse programming.

PBS concluded the TCA Winter Press Tour at Pasadena’s Langham Hotel as it unveiled the upcoming spring lineup for the critics.

On Tuesday, Independent Lens and FRONTLINE kicked off Day 2 of press tour with an emotional panel previewing Kind Hearted Woman, filmmaker David Sutherland’s documentary following Robin Charboneau, an Oglala Sioux woman in North Dakota, as she struggles between saving her family and risking it all to help her Indian community and abused women. Continue reading