Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Deej

ITVS recently approved funding for Deeja documentary by Robert Rooy (Director/Producer) and David James Savarese (Producer).

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Deej is the story of DJ Savarese (“Deej”), a gifted, young writer and an advocate for nonspeaking autistics. Once a “profoundly disabled” foster kid seemingly on the fast track to nowhere, DJ is now a first year college student with a burning desire to stand up for those whose neurological differences cause others to summarily dismiss them as incompetent, often “housing them in classrooms of easy lessons.” As writer and co-producer of Deej, he seeks to quell deep-seated fears and heal old wounds while giving others like him a voice:

“This movie reassesses hope. Yes, yes, hope is not easy or free. Yes, hope is hard…. Not a sweet, dear, hopeful collection, our film asks hope to survive challenges and to hear our dear selves freed.”— DJ Savarese

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Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Almost There

ITVS recently approved funding for Almost Therea documentary by filmmakers Dan Rybicky   (Director/Producer) and Aaron Wickenden (Director/Producer).

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Outsider artist Peter Anton, 82, has spent decades obsessively chronicling his rollercoaster of a life into a massive, illustrated autobiography, and nothing — not poverty, isolation, or crippling disabilities — will stop him from seeing it published. Almost There documents the curatorial complexities surrounding the discovery and stewardship of Anton’s work, addressing issues of identity and legacy that arise from the collision of biography and autobiography.

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Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Jed Rothstein’s Heavy Metal Islam

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary Heavy Metal Islam by filmmaker Jed Rothstein (Director/Producer).

In 2008, a film crew began documenting a group of young heavy-metal musicians in Egypt. Oppressed by massive social forces beyond their control, the kids — sons of a jailed political dissident and the leader of the only female metal band in the Middle East — saw music as their outlet, their hopes trapped in the traffic-clogged streets of Cairo like a bull in a pen. Then one day, everything burst wide open.

Filmed before, during, and after the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, Heavy Metal Islam tells the stories of a few remarkable young people as they seek the freedom to define themselves and shape their world. Influenced by their participation in major historic events, the young Egyptian musicians experience the political upheaval as personally transformative. With their music as a soundtrack, they share their stories, from their early struggles in Mubarak’s police state, through the fever dream of a revolution, and beyond, into a strange new world where uncertainty is the only constant.

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ITVS Prepares for Beta Tests of Enhanced OVEE

By Dru Sefton
Originally published on Current.org 

Web engagement tool provides platform for virtual dialogue

An infusion of CPB funding is allowing the Independent Television Service to add more features to OVEE, the online engagement tool that ITVS calls “the world’s first fully functional social screening platform.”

The latest version of OVEE features a customizable strip with a “Donate” button for stations. “Imagine a Downton Abbey screening with [creator] Julian Fellowes online,” said Dennis Palmieri of ITVS. “OVEE can do that.”

“No other media outlet has this,” said Dennis Palmieri, director of innovation and media strategy for San Francisco–based ITVS. The Online Video Engagement Experience platform, a freestanding web application that synchs up multiple streams on the PBS COVE website, allows online viewers to interact in real time around content by signing on through the platform or via Facebook.

Pilot tests of OVEE by five pubTV stations and producers at Frontline and PBS NewsHour received positive responses. For the next pilot round, five pubradio stations will be among the beta group of 25 test sites.

“There’s an enormous amount of interest” from the radio side, Palmieri said. In markets with separate PBS and NPR member stations, “OVEE offers real opportunities for joint engagement.”

ITVS is considering both pubTV and radio stations as well as groups such as the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for the beta tests, Palmieri said. Each participant will receive grants of $5,000, and testing will commence in January 2013. OVEE’s official release is set for next spring.

A $575,000 grant approved in June boosted CPB’s aid to a total of $1.5 million. The latest grant backs more work by OVEE’s developer to fix bugs in the system and install snazzy new features. Continue reading

Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Roger Ross Williams’s God Loves Uganda

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary God Loves Uganda  by filmmakers Roger Ross Williams (Director/Producer) and Julie Goldman (Producer).

God Loves Uganda is a journey into the heart of East Africa, where Ugandan pastors and their American counterparts spread God’s word and evangelical values to millions desperate for a better life. Inspired by his own roots in the African American Baptist church, director Roger Ross Williams seeks to explore a place where religion and African culture intersect.

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Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster’s American Promise

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary American Promise by filmmakers Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster.

American Promise is an intimate look at the 12-year journey of two African-American boys on the path to success at a prestigious prep school. This personal film explores the distinct and troubling growing pains young men of color experience, navigating internal and external cultural stereotypes.

The film sheds light on the universal struggle families and schools confront when addressing issues of identity and opportunity. This inspiring story about pursuing the American dream sparks a critical conversation about the complex factors that influence academic development and unspoken social and emotional needs that play an integral role in every child’s well-being.

Watch an interview with filmmaker Michele Stephenson after the jump. Continue reading

Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Marissa Aroy’s Delano Manongs

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary Delano Manongs by filmmaker Marissa Aroy. Delano Manongs was funded through ITVS’s LINCS initiative as a production and presentation partnership with KVIE and CAAM.

Delano Manongs tells the story of farm labor organizer Larry Itliong and a group of Filipino farm workers who instigated one of the American farm labor movement’s finest moments, The Delano Grape Strike of 1965 that brought about the creation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). While the movement is known for Cesar Chavez’s leadership and considered a Chicano movement, Filipinos played a pivotal role that began it all. Filipino labor organizer, Larry Itliong, a five foot five cigar-chomping cannery farm labor union veteran, began the strike against the grape growers of Delano, California with over a thousand Filipino farmworkers.

Watch an interview with Marissa Aroy after the jump. Continue reading

Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for Mariachi High

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary Mariachi High by filmmakers Kim Connell and Ilana Trachtman.

In a part of America that rarely makes headlines, there is a small town with a group of teenagers who will captivate your ears and warm your heart. Mariachi High presents a year in the life of the champion mariachi ensemble at Zapata High School on the Rio Grande in South Texas.  As they compete and perform with astonishing musical virtuosity, these teens, and the music they make, will inspire, surprise, and bring you to your feet.

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ITVS Interactive Projects Awarded NEA Funding

The National Endowment for the Arts has selected two ITVS interactive projects to receive funding through its Arts in Media Grants.

This week, the National Endowment for the Arts announced projects selected for funding through its Arts in Media Grants Program. We’re proud to announce that two interactive projects, funded through ITVS’s Project 360 Initiative, have garnered NEA support.
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Newly Funded: ITVS is Pleased to Announce Funding for David Osit’s Building Babel

ITVS recently approved funding for the documentary Building Babel by filmmaker David Osit (Director/Producer).

Building Babel  follows a year in the life and work of Sharif El- Gamal, the developer behind New York’s ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ otherwise known as Park51 — a Muslim community center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. The film covers Sharif’s struggle to build the embattled center against seemingly endless opposition, all while struggling with his own religion and identity amid intense scrutiny.

Building Babel provides a portrait of American identity ten years on from September 11th. Who are Muslims, and who are Americans? Where does the line get drawn, and who gets to draw it?

Watch an interview with David Osit after the jump> Continue reading