Listening Tour Kicks Off in San Francisco: A Report

PBS Listening Tour in San Francisco

On Saturday, PBS, ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET together led the first in a series of events to ignite conversations about the importance of independent documentary films — and the need to provide a prominent platform for indies.

More than 225 Bay Area filmmakers, local and national independent film organizations, public media advocates, educators, and community leaders turned out at the San Francisco Public Library to share and hear testimonials and ideas on how to build the visibility, reach, and impact of independent films by and about diverse, underrepresented communities on public broadcasting.

Their audience? PBS programming leaders Beth Hoppe and Marie Nelson, WNET’s Lesley Norman, ITVS’s Sally Jo Fifer, KQED’s Kevin Martin, Independent Lens’ Lois Vossen, POV’s Simon Kilmurry, filmmakers Orlando Bagwell and Tracy Droz Tragos, and community leaders Esta Soler of Futures Without Violence and Kin Folkz of Spectrum Queer Media.

The line to the microphone snaked up the auditorium aisle as attendees stepped up to tell the panel of “listeners” onstage about their experiences in making and using independent documentary to engage citizens of all ages in social issues, from poverty and homelessness to youth and women’s empowerment to LGBQT rights and gender-based violence. Many filmmakers expressed their hope for POV and Independent Lens to maintain a prominent position on the programming schedule amid recent headlines in trade press.

See a few highlights from the event here:

See coverage on Saturday’s event in Current: “Filmmakers push for common carriage at first stop in public TV ‘listening tour‘.”

PBS launched “Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour” in partnership with ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET. WNET and POV will organize the next event to be held on February 23, 2015 in New York City, location TBD. The Indie Caucus and Kartemquin Films will host a third stop in Chicago in March, date TBD.

ITVS Seeks Applicants for Open Call Funding Initiative

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Open Call provides completion funds for single nonfiction public television programs on any subject, and from any viewpoint. Projects must have begun production as evidenced by a work-in-progress video. Open Call funding is only available to independent producers who are citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and its external territories.

Open Call accepts:

  • Single programs of standard broadcast length (half-hour or one-hour). In rare cases, when a filmmaker’s skills, subject, and story structure warrant it, ITVS will consider programs at feature lengths.
  • Programs that can be completed within one year of contract

The application opened December 29, 2014 and the deadline for receiving all application materials is January 30th, 2015 at 4 PM PST.

ITVS  hosted a live chat on Wednesday, January 14th with Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton and Senior Production Manager David Eisenburg, providing answers and insight regarding the application process for Open Call. The chat was recorded and available here for those who were unable to attend.

For more information visit: http://www.itvs.org/funding/open-call

Independent Film on PBS: A National Listening Tour

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In keeping with its commitment to being the “home to indies,” PBS programming leadership will travel throughout the country over the next few months to meet with independent filmmakers, PBS independent film series producers, PBS station programmers, and other public media and community partners. Listening Tour co-hosts will include ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and WNET, among others.  At each stop, event participants will voice their priorities, concerns, and ideas on how all the stakeholders can work together to strengthen audience and community engagement with social issues storytelling.

San Francisco will be the first stop on the tour on Saturday, January 17. The event will be hosted by PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens, and POV, with co-sponsors:

The Listening Tour hosts will announce additional stops in New York and elsewhere as they are confirmed. ITVS looks forward to building a roadmap with our partners for the long-term success of independent film on PBS.

If you have any questions, please contact us at ListeningTour@itvs.org

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV Statement

PBS, WNET, ITVS, Independent Lens and POV are working together in partnership over the next four months to develop a national strategy to raise the profile for independent film on public television and to reinforce PBS as the home for indies.

Together, we will be hosting a listening tour with independent filmmakers across the country to engage producers, stations and other stakeholders in the process.

While these discussions are underway, WNET will continue its broadcast of Independent Lens at 10 PM on Mondays on THIRTEEN.

Farewell and Thank You, Claire Aguilar

Claire Aguilar

We here at ITVS would like to take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Claire Aguilar, who made absolutely vital contributions to the success of ITVS during her 14-year tenure as Vice President of Programming and Executive Content Advisor.  As noted in this space recently, the Senior Content Director role is now in the very capable hands of Noland Walker. Meanwhile, Claire has a new opportunity at the prestigious British film festival Sheffield Doc/Fest as its director of programming and industry engagement.

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Three ITVS Films Win BRITDOC Impact Awards

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As awards season heats up, three ITVS films were recently honored with BRITDOC Social Impact Awards. The films, Granito, The House I Live In, and American Promise each received $15,000 to reward their passion and achievements in using storytelling to provoke change. Now in its 4th year, the Impact Award honors filmmakers whose work has had the most impact globally every year.

“We are thrilled that three of our funded filmmakers have received the BRITDOC Social Impact Award,said Jim Sommers, ITVS Senior Vice President. “It is a testament to their incredible hard work, dedication and commitment to sharing the stories of people from diverse communities across the globe in order to ignite conversations and engage people in positive social change.”

The BRITDOC organization offers an Impact Field Guide and Toolkit for filmmakers, which includes suggestions and tools to create engaging campaigns on how to impact the topics their films explore.

ITVS is proud to be the home for impactful filmmakers. This year, of the five BRITDOC Impact Award winners, three were ITVS funded films.  Previous ITVS documentaries that have also taken home the award include Bully, Give Up Tomorrow, The Interrupters and The Invisible War.

Community Cinema Joins the Online Conversation with Independent Lens

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It’s here – a brand new season of dynamic screening events with Community Cinema. This season, Community Cinema is proud to celebrate 10 years of uniting people through independent film. Available nationwide, Community Cinema presents free screenings and discussions about films from the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens. By igniting conversations around issues that affect us all, Community Cinema creates real and lasting change.

A new season of Community Cinema also means new ways of engaging with our audiences. We’re excited to announce that Community Cinema will soon be able to reach a wider audience through the Independent Lens social media space! As of November 1st, we’ll be closing the Community Cinema Facebook and Twitter accounts, and bringing you the latest in Community Cinema events and news via Independent Lens’s social accounts. With an expanded community, the Independent Lens Facebook and Twitter pages are the perfect spots to continue Community Cinema conversations online.

So, if you want to stay in the know on the latest Community Cinema event news and updates, make sure to follow Independent Lens on Facebook and Twitter.

Help make our 10th season the best one yet by adding your voice to the conversation. Join us at one of our local events; we’d love to see you there!

ITVS Wins 4 News & Documentary Emmy Awards

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Cover your ears, it’s horn tooting time here! Last night at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony, ITVS films won a total of 4 Emmys, including 3 for Independent Lens films [Independent Lens had been nominated for 10 News & Doc Emmys overall.] Read more on RealScreen, but without further ado, the winners are:

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ITVS Names Noland Walker as Senior Content Director

Noland WalkerIndependent Television Service is excited to announce that Peabody Award-winning documentary producer and director Noland Walker has been appointed Senior Content Director, where he will manage a portfolio of ITVS-funded programs, providing curatorial analysis and program development feedback to producers.

He will also co-curate the Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens series along with Deputy Executive Producer Lois Vossen and PBS, replacing the role of Claire Aguilar after 13 years of distinguished service in the position. In addition, Walker is responsible for identifying trends in the documentary and public media landscape, tracking current projects in the field, and providing recommendations for the funding of public television programming.

“We are thrilled that Noland will be joining ITVS,” said Jim Sommers, Senior Vice President of Content. “He brings a wealth of experience not only as an independent filmmaker but as a highly-respected editorial consultant and advisor for documentaries and transmedia projects. His deep knowledge of public media and commitment to the mission of ITVS are invaluable.”

Most recently, Walker worked with the Boston-based organization AIR, serving as Executive Editor of Localore, an innovative project designed to bring fresh talent, ideas and energy to public media through collaborative production partnerships between producers and local public radio and TV stations.

With over two decades of experience in the development and production of award-winning documentaries, Walker’s credits include two American Experience programs, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (co-writer and co-producer) and Citizen King, which he produced, directed, and wrote with Orlando Bagwell; producer and co-writer for Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (Frontline); writer for Sam Cooke: Crossing Over (American Masters); and co-producer of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock (Independent Lens). He also produced and directed an episode of the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Africans in America, a four-part WGBH series on slavery in the U.S.

Walker served as Creative Advisor during the first three years of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontiers Lab and continues to advise and consult Sundance Fellows on an ongoing basis at the Institute’s request. He serves a similar role for the Creative Lab at Canada’s Hot Docs Film Festival.