ITVS at SXSW 2015

By Elisabeth Copper, @eacopper

Social Media Manager

It’s that time again! We’ve packed our bags and are heading out for the craziness that is SxSW. We’ll be running around town participating in panels, attending screenings, and meeting with filmmakers, storytellers, and innovators. Will you be joining us in Austin? If so, here are some of the places we’ll be.

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Film Screenings

We couldn’t be more thrilled that three ITVS-support documentaries will be showing at the film festival this year. If you have a Film, Gold, or Platinum badge, here’s your chance to preview the documentaries before they appear next season on our Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens.

T-Rex (World Premiere)

T-Rex is an intimate story about a new kind of American heroine. For the first time, women’s boxing is included in the 2012 Olympics. Fighting for gold is 17-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields. From the streets of Flint, Michigan, Claressa is undefeated and utterly confident. Her fierceness extends beyond the ring. She desperately wants to take her family to a better, safer place and winning gold could be her only chance.

Welcome to Leith

Welcome to Leith is chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. The unsettling underpinning of the film is how we wrestle with our democratic principles when they’re pushed to the limit.

Best of Enemies

Best of Enemies is a documentary about the storied debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance.

PBS will be hosting meet-and-greets with these filmmakers at the PBS Anywhere Lounge. Best of Enemies and T-Rex will in the Lounge on Saturday at 4pm, and Welcome to Leith producers will be in attendance Monday from 4:30pm-5:30pm.

 

Panels

Finding a TV Partner in a Digital World

Monday, March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm

In the digital era of Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and many other OTT portals, how valuable is a broadcaster for your doc? Come find out at this panel moderated by Elizabeth Sheldon, SVP Kino Lorber, along with Lois Vossen from Independent Lens, Jill Burkhart of EPIX Documentary Programming, Cynthia Kane of Al Jazeera, and Jennie Morris from Participant Media.

Tool-Kit for Crafting an Interactive Documentary

Monday, March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Filmmaker Andrew Beck Grace and Toronto-based Helios Design Labs worked remotely for six months to produce the interactive documentary essay “After the Storm.” By using this project as a test-case, this session, featuring Cathy Fisher from ITVS, will present a tool-kit of ideas for other creators in the medium while exploring the how and why of interactive, web-native nonfiction storytelling.

Doc Distribution: Get Up to Speed with PBS Indies

Tuesday, March 17th 11:00AM-12:00PM

Are you a filmmaker interested in showcasing your film on PBS? Then you don’t want to miss this panel. Filmmakers Byron Hurt, Yance Ford, and Marshall Curry will be joined by Donald Thoms (VP Programming/General Audience; PBS) and Liz Cheng (GM; World Channel) to share why public media might be the distribution channel you’ve been searching for.

What’s the Value of Your Digital Rights?

Tuesday, March 17th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Learn from industry experts, including ITVS’s Isaac Hager, how much digital rights are worth to filmmakers and distributors launching titles on outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix. You’ll walk away from this session with insight into which platforms are winning in the battle for viewer attention, as well as a greater understanding of the deal structures and windowing strategies negotiated as part of these licensing deals.

Who’s Going to Fund Your Webseries?

Tuesday, March 17th 12:30pm-1:30pm

Meet the industry leaders, including ITVS’s Karim Ahmad, developing, funding, and supporting independent web series in new ways, paving the way for creators of bold new episodic content online. We’ll discuss what they look for, how their programs work, and talk with veteran creators about their development strategy, and what are the opportunities for web series in today’s digital landscape.

 

PBS Party at the Parish

The annual PBS party is one we look forward to every year. On March 15th at 9pm, come help us celebrate independent film on PBS with drinks, BBQ, and live music by Best Coast.

Can’t make it to Austin this year? We’ll be capturing all of the madness on Twitter and Instagram so be sure to follow along!

My So-Called Enemy, Sunday on Global Voices

This Sunday on Global Voices, filmmaker Lisa Gossels presents the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through a human lens in her documentary, My So-Called Enemy. The film begins in July 2002, when twenty-two Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls traveled to the US to participate in a ten-day women’s leadership program. My So-Called Enemy is about six of those girls and how the transformative experience of knowing their “enemies” as human beings meets with the realities of their lives at home in the Middle East over the next seven years. In this post, Gossels shares her motivation for making this film.

There’s many things that a person might look like and you’re one hundred percent positive who they are. And when you talk to them, you’re shocked that they’re completely the opposite. Like whoever looks at me, “No way you’re an Arab.” But I go like, “Oh, dude, I am an Arab!” So, don’t concentrate on the first impression. If you think you don’t like the person, approach them to know who they really are.
-Rawan (Palestinian, Muslim)

by Lisa Gossels, Director

When I introduce My So-Called Enemy at screenings, I always say that making the film was an eight-year journey of both learning and unlearning for me – and a stripping away of personal narratives that I was raised with.  My hope as a documentarian is that audiences will experience some of that same transformation when they watch the movie.

I live in downtown Manhattan and shortly after 9/11, I remember engaging in some heated political conversations with close friends about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. When I tried to express any nuance in those discussions, I came to understand how wars could be fought on words and how easy it is to reduce conflicts to black and white terms. At a conference two months earlier, I had the privilege of meeting Melodye Feldman (the founder of Building Bridges for Peace), and four participants from her just-completed summer program. After listening to the girls’ dramatic stories about how the program had changed them, I begged Melodye to let me film her program the next year! I was excited that Building Bridges for Peace empowers teenage girls because, as Nicholas Kristof wrote, “Focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism.” 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

Through Her Lens: An Antidote to the Female Director Gap

Women & Girls Lead announces the launch of Through Her Lens, an online series of dramatic shorts premiering on June 12, 2013.

Women are conspicuously absent from the top ranks of film. In 2012, women made up a measly 9 percent of directors working on the top 250 domestic-grossing films in the U.S.

But there are a few bright spots: Women were more likely to work for documentaries, dramas, and animated films than action, horror, and sci-fi in 2012. At high-profile film festivals, they more commonly were directors of documentaries than narrative features. They are also more likely to be top brass on feature-length films in top U.S. film festivals than the cash-raking, top 250 grossing films.

ITVS’s response to this gender gap? Women and Girls Lead’s series of dramatic shorts, Through Her Lens premiering exclusively online on June 12, 2013.  Directed by women, featuring stories about women, the series travels from the streets of Spanish Town, Jamaica, to an apartment in Amman, Jordan, to a Chinese immigrant enclave in New York City. Continue reading

Kind Hearted Woman Premieres Tonight on PBS

Kind Hearted Woman, a special co-presentation from Independent Lens and FRONTLINE, will premiere Monday, April 1st on PBS. The two-part documentary is a Women and Girls Lead pillar program.

In this two-part series, acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland creates an unforgettable portrait of Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Robin over three years as she struggles to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

Join the Online Social Screening April 17 at 11am PT / 2pm ET

Watch a 90-minute version of Kind Hearted Woman with a live audience during our online social screening Wednesday, April 17th at 11am PT / 2pm ET. Chat with advocates, survivors, and supporters to find ways to get involved in ending the crisis of violence against women and children. Join the screening at bit.ly/KindHearted.

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Happy International Women’s Day from Women and Girls Lead

Today is International Women’s Day! How do you plan to honor the more than 3 billion women and girls in the world in the next 24 hours? We like to celebrate with film, of course. No other medium can amplify women’s voices and capture their experiences quite like documentary film. Join us today at 11am PT / 2pm ET for a special International Women’s Day online screening of clips from Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

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Fans of the Half the Sky Movement will gather online today to talk about the ways that they are making a difference in the lives of women and girls everywhere. We’ll also share lots of new opportunities to get involved, such as a new Facebook game! Half the Sky Movement: The Game is a Facebook adventure that raises awareness and funds to empower women and girls across the globe. Inspired by the worldwide movement, the game was created by Pulitzer-Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and the PBS documentary film series. Players can embark on a journey to complete quests and unlock real-life donations from sponsors that reflect many important issues.

We’ll also talk more about the inspiring young female changemakers currently being considered for the Students Rebuild Award. The award, sponsored by the Besos Family Foundation, will give five $10,000 prizes to young women working for change in Half the Sky featured countries. Through the end of the day, anyone can view and vote for these remarkable award finalists, who hail from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Somaliland, India, and Kenya. Award winners will be announced online during the week of March 18th.

Be sure to continue the celebration all month long by watching the ten powerful documentaries included in the #SheDocs Online Film Festival. Happy International Women’s Day from Women and Girls Lead!

Public Media Puts Social TV Front and Center at SXSW

ITVS will unveil the tablet version of OVEE, a social screening platform developed for PBS and public television stations, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival on Friday, March 8, 2013.

This Friday, ITVS’s social screening platform, OVEE, will be featured at SXSW! Our own Dennis Palmieri and software developer Christian Nelson of Carbon Five will present all the interactive wizardry and audience engagement OVEE has to offer. If you happen to be in Austin for the big event, their panel will light up the stage 5 p.m. Friday at the Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB. If you aren’t lucky enough to be in Austin, follow the insights and discussions around the panel on Twitter through the hashtag #OVEE.

The breakthrough social platform, which fuses the functionality of second screen apps with a high-quality video player, offers interactive features for 500+ audiences, including live chat, real-time emoticators, polls, quizzes, live webcam capabilities, and one-click audience metrics snapshots.

Now available on the iPad, “OVEE re-creates the dynamics and the feel of a live screening event in the online space,” says Dennis Palmieri, ITVS’s OVEE project lead. “It’s as close as you can come to sitting in a theater and watching a film or video program with a live audience.”

Along with headlining a panel on opening day of the SXSW Interactive Festival, OVEE will also be featured at the Integrated Media Association (iMA) conference, the premier showcase for transmedia and multiplatform work in the public media sector, on March 7th in Austin, TX. Stay tuned for more updates from the field!

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

ITVS and Muftah.Org Present a Social Screening on Female Community Organizers in Egypt

On February 6th, ITVS’s Diverse Muslim Voices is hosting an online film screening of Shayfeen.com: We’re Watching You. The screening is being presented in partnership with Muftah.org, an online magazine committed to providing a forum for discussion on arts, culture, and politics in the Middle East and North African regions. 

Ghada Shahbandar and another monitor from Shayfeen.com record the activities of Cairo’s polling.

The documentary provides an intimate look at the 2005 multi-party elections in Egypt through the eyes of three women working to assure the election’s legitimacy. The women provide unprecedented access to activists operating in and around the highest levels of both government and opposition groups. Providing excellent context for the organizing that was happening in Egypt before most of us tuned in years later during the Arab Spring, Shayfeen.com also shows how these women used the technology available to build their movement for justice – an early harbinger to how social media was used years later.

On the day of the screening, click the link from your computer and join the virtual screening room. Participants will be able to watch the film while interacting with other viewers. You can join anonymously if you want so log ins or passwords are not needed. Our free OVEE platform is a new innovative way to watch films in a way that promotes interaction with audience members and panelists through a simultaneous chat and other interactive features. For more information about OVEE, please click here. Continue reading