PBS Listening Tour Comes to New York City: A Report

This post was originally published on the POV blog 

PBS Listening Tour

A National Listening Tour on Independent Film on PBS came to New York City on February 23, 2015 at SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

PBS, ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, Indie Caucus and WNET hosted a full house on the Independent Film on PBS Listening Tour on Monday, February 23 at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

Building on the conversation that began last month in San Francisco, a panel of PBS leadership, series producers and independent filmmakers heard from an audience of more than 400 filmmakers, local and national independent film organizations, public media advocates, educators and community leaders, and shared and discussed their perspectives on PBS’s role as a provider and platform for independent documentary films.

On stage, Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and GM and General Audience Programming at PBS, laid out new potential strategies around marketing initiatives, live events and theatrical distribution of independent films, while Marie Nelson, Vice President of News & Public Affairs at PBS, continued to welcome innovative ideas to promote larger viewership. Stephen Segaller, Vice President of Programming at WNET, further explained WNET’s reasoning for wanting to experiment with scheduling times for POV and Independent Lens, and was receptive to the concern of the New York City audience at the event.

Moderator Mikel Ellecessor did his best to drive the conversation to a new phase, urging speakers to move on from discussing proposed scheduling changes for POV and Independent Lens, towards bringing forward alternative suggestions to ensure that PBS provides independent film to its largest audience.

Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer of POV, Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS and Executive Producer of Independent Lens, and Lois Vossen, Deputy Executive Producer of Independent Lens, provided their perspectives as representatives and funders of the two largest showcases for independent film on public television, while Marcia Smith, President of Firelight Media, and Dawn Porter, Director/Producer of Gideon’s Army and Indie Caucus representative, offered their experiences working with the series, and advocated for their continued prioritization by PBS locally and nationally.

PBS Listening Tour Panel NYC

From left to right: Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer, POV; Dawn Porter, Director/Producer, Indie Caucus Representative; Marcia Smith, President, Firelight Media; Lois Vossen, Deputy Executive Producer, Independent Lens; Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO, ITVS and Executive Producer, Independent Lens; Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and GM and General Audience Programming, PBS; Marie Nelson, Vice President, News & Public Affairs, PBS; Stephen Segaller, Vice President, Programming, WNET

Attendees waited in the aisles of the theatre to share their experiences, perspectives and concerns, touching on issues around the visibility of independent films on television, accessibility of programs in low-income neighborhoods of New York City and representation of the diversity of the city in programming decisions and scheduling. Speakers on the mic included POV and Independent Lens filmmakers, partners and founders.

PBS launched “Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour” in partnership with ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET. The Indie Caucus and Kartemquin Films will host the next stop in Chicago in March, date TBD.

Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour

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In keeping with its commitment to being the “home to indies,” PBS programming leadership will travel throughout the country over the next few months to meet with independent filmmakers, PBS independent film series producers, PBS station programmers, and other public media and community partners. Listening Tour co-hosts will include ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET, among others.  At each stop, event participants will voice their priorities, concerns, and ideas on how all the stakeholders can work together to strengthen audience and community engagement with social issues storytelling.

San Francisco will be the first stop on the tour on Saturday, January 17. The event will be hosted by PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens, and POV, with co-sponsors:

The Listening Tour hosts will announce additional stops in New York and elsewhere as they are confirmed. ITVS looks forward to building a roadmap with our partners for the long-term success of independent film on PBS.

If you have any questions, please contact us at ListeningTour@itvs.org

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV Statement

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV are working together in partnership over the next four months to develop a national strategy to raise the profile for independent film on public television and to reinforce PBS as the home for indies.

Together, we will be hosting a listening tour with independent filmmakers across the country to engage producers, stations and other stakeholders in the process.

While these discussions are underway, WNET will continue its broadcast of Independent Lens at 10 PM on Mondays on THIRTEEN.

Community Cinema Joins the Online Conversation with Independent Lens

Community Cinema Social Composite of Events

It’s here – a brand new season of dynamic screening events with Community Cinema. This season, Community Cinema is proud to celebrate 10 years of uniting people through independent film. Available nationwide, Community Cinema presents free screenings and discussions about films from the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens. By igniting conversations around issues that affect us all, Community Cinema creates real and lasting change.

A new season of Community Cinema also means new ways of engaging with our audiences. We’re excited to announce that Community Cinema will soon be able to reach a wider audience through the Independent Lens social media space! As of November 1st, we’ll be closing the Community Cinema Facebook and Twitter accounts, and bringing you the latest in Community Cinema events and news via Independent Lens’s social accounts. With an expanded community, the Independent Lens Facebook and Twitter pages are the perfect spots to continue Community Cinema conversations online.

So, if you want to stay in the know on the latest Community Cinema event news and updates, make sure to follow Independent Lens on Facebook and Twitter.

Help make our 10th season the best one yet by adding your voice to the conversation. Join us at one of our local events; we’d love to see you there!

ITVS Wins 4 News & Documentary Emmy Awards

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Cover your ears, it’s horn tooting time here! Last night at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony, ITVS films won a total of 4 Emmys, including 3 for Independent Lens films [Independent Lens had been nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmys overall.] Read more on RealScreen, but without further ado, the winners are:

Continue reading

ITVS Names Noland Walker as Senior Content Director

Noland WalkerIndependent Television Service is excited to announce that Peabody Award-winning documentary producer and director Noland Walker has been appointed Senior Content Director, where he will manage a portfolio of ITVS-funded programs, providing curatorial analysis and program development feedback to producers.

He will also co-curate the Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens series along with Deputy Executive Producer Lois Vossen and PBS, replacing the role of Claire Aguilar after 13 years of distinguished service in the position. In addition, Walker is responsible for identifying trends in the documentary and public media landscape, tracking current projects in the field, and providing recommendations for the funding of public television programming.

“We are thrilled that Noland will be joining ITVS,” said Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content. “He brings a wealth of experience not only as an independent filmmaker but as a highly-respected editorial consultant and advisor for documentaries and transmedia projects. His deep knowledge of public media and commitment to the mission of ITVS are invaluable.”

Most recently, Walker worked with the Boston-based organization AIR, serving as Executive Editor of Localore, an innovative project designed to bring fresh talent, ideas and energy to public media through collaborative production partnerships between producers and local public radio and TV stations.

With over two decades of experience in the development and production of award-winning documentaries, Walker’s credits include two American Experience programs, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (co-writer and co-producer) and Citizen King, which he produced, directed, and wrote with Orlando Bagwell; producer and co-writer for Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (Frontline); writer for Sam Cooke: Crossing Over (American Masters); and co-producer of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock (Independent Lens). He also produced and directed an episode of the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Africans in America, a four-part WGBH series on slavery in the U.S.

Walker served as Creative Advisor during the first three years of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontiers Lab and continues to advise and consult Sundance Fellows on an ongoing basis at the Institute’s request. He serves a similar role for the Creative Lab at Canada’s Hot Docs Film Festival.

Summer #ThrowbackThursday’s Return!

For a second year, ITVS’s Emmy-award winning series, Independent Lens, is unlocking the PBS Video vault to revive previously aired, fan favorite films.

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This week’s #ThrowbackThursday offering is Summer Pasture, the story of a young nomadic couple living with their infant daughter in eastern Tibet.  The documentary provides a rare window into a highly insular community seldom seen by outsiders. In the collective imagination of Tibet, nomads have traditionally occupied a dual role — romanticized as embodying the purest form of Tibetan identity and mocked as being backwards, uncivilized, and inferior.

Make sure you’re following Independent Lens on Twitter and Instagram to see which docs will be offered next. The “throwback” films are available on PBS.org for one week only, so take advantage while you can!

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

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