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

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.

Don’t Miss the Upcoming Diverse Muslim Voices Social Screenings

On January 30th and February 6th, Diverse Muslim Voices is hosting two online film screenings of Solar Mamas and Shayfeen.com: We’re Watching You. Both documentaries examine the role women play in creating change in their communities.

The film titles and links to the screenings are listed below. On the day of the screening, click the link from your computer and join the virtual room! You’ll be able to watch the film while interacting with other viewers. You can join anonymously if you want so logins or passwords are not needed.

Our free OVEE platform is a new innovative way to watch films in a way that promotes interaction with audiences through simultaneous chat and other interactive features. For more information about OVEE click here. Continue reading

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