Watch the Global Voices Season Six Premiere!

Travel from your living room with the latest season of Global Voices! Airing on the WORLD channel, season six premieres June 2 with 18 weeks of international documentaries that give you vistas into other worlds.

Peek into the spectacular, treacherous terrain of Eastern Java, Indonesia, where miners haul sulfur through toxic gases to supply material for our matches and makeup. Where Heaven Meets Hell makes its U.S. debut June 2, 10 p.m. EST.

The next premiere, When Hari Got Married (June 16), follows a 30-year-old taxi driver in the Indian Himalayas, marrying a young girl he has only known through his cell phone. Follow Muslim women seeking radical change in their court system in South India (Invoking Justice, July 14), and the disappeared children of El Salvador’s 1980s civil war as they return to their native country (Niños de la Memoria, June 30).

Learn more about the corners of our globe that you never expected to see: Watch Global Voices online and “like” the Facebook page to keep up with the season!

ITVS Responds to The New Yorker article on Park Avenue and Citizen Koch

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In the past week, The New Yorker published an article drawing a connection between corporate influence and freedom of expression that has generated a flurry of press coverage.

ITVS appreciates the scrutiny of the important issue of corporate influence on public broadcasting, and indeed on media in general. As a majority-publicly-funded institution, a rarity even within public broadcasting, ITVS has long been proud of our ability to act independently of corporate and government influence.

Our history of providing top-flight journalism among the rich mix of films we help bring to public broadcasting often puts us in the position of taking on powerful stakeholders. Viewers depend on ITVS-funded filmmakers for the high-quality independent documentaries that appear on our signature TV series Independent Lens and on other PBS series including POV, Frontline, and American Masters.

We treasure our relationship with our viewers, with public broadcasting, and our many other community and NGO partners. Above all, we hold dear our relationships with independent producers and deeply respect the courage and tenacity it takes to tell authentic, compelling stories that inform and connect citizens in a noisy 21st century media space.

As a matter of policy, ITVS respects the privacy of filmmakers and our negotiations. We therefore declined an interview request from The New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer for a May 20, 2013 article she was framing around two documentaries with storylines on David H. Koch. In the days after its publication, we continued to decline interview requests from other outlets.

ITVS now believes the rising flow of misinformation surrounding Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream and Citizen Koch requires public exposure of the facts. We believe these facts demonstrate our commitment to the creative vision of filmmakers, independent journalistic documentaries, and diverse perspectives on issues that are critical for our American democracy and culture.

Here are the facts:

  • ITVS not only supports but also seeks out and funds hard-hitting journalistic documentaries on timely and important issues. ITVS funded and shepherded to Independent Lens in the current season alone award-winning films such as Park Avenue, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and As Goes Janesville. The quality of Independent Lens programs is reflected in 10 Peabody awards and seven Emmys for the series, which is co-curated with PBS.
  • ITVS funded Alex Gibney’s film Park Avenue, and Independent Lens senior series producer Lois Vossen worked closely with him, per standard protocol, to meet PBS editorial standards and have the film broadcast on PBS.
  • In April 2012, ITVS sent filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal a standard letter inviting them to begin negotiations for production license funding from ITVS based on their written proposal. Communications between the filmmakers and ITVS continued until April 2013, well beyond the Park Avenue broadcast on November 12, 2012.
  • ITVS initially recommended the film Citizen Corp for production licensing based on a written proposal. Early cuts of the film, including the Sundance version, did not reflect the proposal, however, and ITVS eventually withdrew its offer of a production agreement to acquire public television exhibition rights. The film was neither contracted nor funded.
  • ITVS has worked with thousands of independent filmmakers since our inception. We are committed to supporting the creative vision of filmmakers and respectfully acknowledge that their creative process will bring forth films that no longer reflect the original proposal on which ITVS based its funding recommendation. Filmmakers sometimes choose a new path during the negotiations of the ITVS production agreement as other financial, distribution, and editorial opportunities arise. In the case of the proposed project Citizen Corp (later retitled Citizen Koch), the filmmakers’ shift in editorial direction from the written proposal during the negotiation window led ITVS to cease negotiations.
  • ITVS works hard to shepherd programs en route to broadcast, but it has no authority over the national or local public television schedule. Neither ITVS nor Independent Lens confirmed a broadcast slot for Citizen Corp.
  • ITVS did not attach its name to Citizen Koch at Sundance Film Festival because a production licensing agreement had not been executed.
  • ITVS did not share a cut of Citizen Koch to PBS or any public television station because the film was never contracted by ITVS. The filmmakers continue to control distribution of their film.

Public broadcasting is a complex set of mostly independently operating entities, including PBS, broadcast stations, and a variety of producing organizations. ITVS is unique in this ecosystem. We hope the important conversation about corporate influence will continue, within not only public broadcasting but also the broader media, and stay grounded in facts and substance.

ITVS Honored at the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards

Summer Pasture and the Why Poverty? series were among the programs honored on Monday at the George Foster Peabody Awards in New York City. Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody is one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.

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The 72nd Annual Peabody Award Luncheon on Monday, May 20, 2013. Courtesy of Lois Vossen.

Summer Pasture and two of the documentaries from the Why Poverty? series, ITVS-funded Park Avenue and Solar Mamas, aired on Independent Lens in 2012, representing the only PBS programming to be recognized at this year’s ceremony. Independent Lens Senior Series Producer Lois Vossen attended the luncheon and accepted the Summer Pasture award on behalf of the filmmakers, who were unable to attend:

“It was an honor to attend the Peabody Awards to accept a Peabody on behalf of Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo for their beautiful film Summer Pasture. Independent Lens was also awarded a Peabody for Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream and Solar Mamas, which broadcast as part of the Why Poverty? series. Winning PBS’s two Peabody Awards this year is further indication of the extraordinary and extraordinarily important work independent filmmakers do. Their unyielding passion and commitment to journalism makes them a vital part of public television. We need their voices now more than ever. It also didn’t hurt that Judd Apatow told me today how much he loves Independent Lens and that it is one of his favorite series!” 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

Get to Know the Women Who Make History

Women and Girls Lead ushers in Women’s History Month with the presentation of MAKERS: Women Who Make America, premiering February 26, 2013 at 8pm ET.


“I’m going to finish this race on my hands and my knees if I have to. If I don’t finish this race, then everybody is going to believe women can’t do it. I’ve got to finish this race.” – Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register and run the Boston Marathon, in MAKERS

In the opening scene of MAKERS, Kathrine Switzer is nearly tackled to the ground by Boston Marathon director Jock Semple. At that time, women were not allowed to compete in the race and the mere sight of her incited such rage in Semple that he’d rather tackle her than see her complete her 26.2 miles. It seems hard to believe in 2013, a year that saw the highest number of women sworn in to the U.S. Congress and the ban on military women in combat lifted by the Pentagon. As Women and Girls Lead prepares to celebrate many of  these triumphs during Women’s History Month this March, MAKERS helps audiences see how far we’ve come–and how far we still have to go. Continue reading

KLRU Presents a Social Screening of When I Rise

Join our friends over at KLRU for a very special screening of When I Rise, on Wednesday, January 30, at 7pm CT.  

Watch When I Rise – Promo on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

When I Rise profiles Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted University of Texas music student, who finds herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggling against the odds and ultimately ascending to the heights of international opera. Director Mat Hames and executive producer Don Carleton will be on hand during the screening to answer questions and chat about their experiences making the film.

Participants can join for free by signing in with Facebook or directly on the site, interacting with other viewers and panelists in real-time, while watching the film. Viewers can comment, ask questions, take polls, and even express their feelings about what they’re watching through a variety of tools on the site. This is an entirely new way of experiencing documentary films and it is inherently social.

AIR and ITVS Partner Up for Next Step in Pubmedia Innovation

Last week, ITVS and AIR, Inc. announced a partnership that will boost support for transformative public media work through Locolore, a multi-million dollar initiative designed to help spark a new vision of 21st century public media.

Localore provides more than a million dollars in CPB funding to 10 lead producers who work with local public stations to increase their organizational capacity for innovation. From coast to coast, Localore producers, technologists, and their stations are inventing new ways to blend craft, forging “full spectrum” productions that reach and involve citizens on air, screen, and streets. 

ITVS has invited Localore producer-station teams to apply for a second year of funding through the LINCS initiative, where selected productions will have the opportunity to continue their groundbreaking projects, with AIR serving in an advisory role.

The production has already yielded an array of fresh public media models, designed to reach and involve community members — from a rich multimedia music map in Austin, to a new style of short form video documentary chronicling the oil boom of North Dakota, to a digitally reversed version of the farmer’s almanac that tells the story of climate change in Paonia, CO. 

The partnership builds on previous AIR-ITVS collaborations to support transformative public media. To learn more, please click here.

POV Unveils the 25 Greatest Documentaries of All Time

By Maria Goodavage
Managing Editor, ITVS

Your votes are in, the ballots have been counted, and the PBS series POV has announced the 25 Greatest Documentaries of All Time. Some may surprise you, others not so much.

The top contender is far from a new film. In fact, it’s one of the older documentaries on the list. But despite its gray title, it’s a lively, quirky, colorful story – one that 37 years later is still mesmerizing viewers. We’re not giving away its name, because you’ll want to go to the winners’ list, where you can see clips from all the top films. But if you’re a big documentary buff, you’ve probably figured it out by now.

“Great” is in the eye of the beholder, of course. POV received more than 1,000 suggestions of beloved documentaries during the November online voting period. What do you think of the list? If you voted, was your film on there? And you can tell us: Did you believe in your favorite film so much that you voted more than once? (It’s OK. Unlike presidential elections, you were encouraged to cast more than one vote.)

The 2012 ITVS Digital Survey

ITVS Digital Initiatives Director, Matthew Meschery, introduces the organization’s 2012 Digital Survey for independent filmmakers. The report examines the digital trends of the past year and takes a look at what producers can expect to find in the year ahead. Watch a brief summary of the report below and find the complete survey in PDF form, at the bottom of the post.

U.S. INPUT 2013 Call for Entries

INPUT 2013 will be held in El Salvador on May 6 – 9, 2013. All U.S. programs must be submitted to U.S. INPUT pre-selection. The deadline for U.S. submissions is Friday, November 9, 2012 at 5 pm EST.

The International Public Television Screening Conference (INPUT) is a global meeting point for public broadcasting professionals to challenge the boundaries of media in the public interest. By screening and debating the most outstanding programs from around the world, INPUT builds an intercultural and international media network that encourages the development of public service broadcasting.

Each country holds its own national selection at a different time so please adhere to this U.S. deadline. For instructions and guidelines to enter your public media film, TV show or interactive, go to www.usinput-tv.org.