by Lois Vossen
Senior Series Producer
Following this morning’s announcement that the 11th season of Independent Lens will be hosted by acclaimed actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci, senior series producer Lois Vossen offers audiences a sneak peak into the upcoming season.
The 11th season of Independent Lens comprises 22 extraordinary documentaries—including new work by Academy and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers, five 2012 Sundance Film Festival award winners, and festival favorites from SXSW and Tribeca. Individually and together they challenge, enlighten, and entertain. From a personal, penetrating look into the failure of America’s war on drugs (The House I Live In), to a harrowing investigation into the perilous journey of illegal immigrants (The Undocumented), to a funny, thoroughly winning romp with working artist Wayne White (Beauty is Embarrassing), this abundance of thought-provoking films take us into the heart of 21st century America.
We’ve moved to Mondays, following Antiques Roadshow and Market Warriors, to help create a PBS “must-see” evening of entertainment filled with undiscovered stories behind the heirloom, the place, the person. Every story has a Monday, and Independent Lens leads the conversation by kicking off each week with a provocative new film you and your network will be talking about the rest of the week.
With the 2012 presidential campaign in full swing, Independent Lens looks at the current political environment, examining some of the most highly charged issues of our time. We journey to post-industrial cities (Detropia and As Goes Janesville), and explore the intersection of religion and gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgender rights (Love Free or Die).
In November, Independent Lens is working jointly with 62 other broadcasters in 180 countries around the world to reach 500 million people simultaneously when we present “Why Poverty?” a series of programs that ask why a billion people still live in poverty. First up is the story of Barefoot College, where women from all over the world who have never had formal education are trained to become solar engineers so they can bring electricity back to their homes (Solar Mamas). That will be followed by an examination of how corporate interests intersect with politics and the top 1% of “The 1%” (Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream).
Along the way, we’ll meet a school board inadvertently responsible for determining the curriculum of most of the nation (The Revisionaries), a president fighting to save his country from becoming the next Atlantis (The Island President), and the military women who are defending our country under constant threat—not from the enemy, but from fellow soldiers (The Invisible War).
As dark as the path may get, there are many moments of light and humor with crowd-pleasers that include the inspirational tale of the band Journey’s new lead singer, discovered on YouTube (Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey), the cultural impact of the Woman of Steel (WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines), a mouth-watering/artery-clogging debate about traditional African American cuisine (Soul Food Junkies), and the inside story of a Chinese dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry).
From heart-wrenching drama to laugh out loud comedy, from introspective personal stories to inspiring historical biographies of people who motivated profound change (The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights), the new season of Independent Lens is creating conversations that bridge the divide in our polarized culture. The films reveal our complicated modern world and how we got here. Indeed, Mondays Just Got Real on PBS because you can’t get more real than Independent Lens.