Summer #ThrowbackThursday’s Return!

For a second year, ITVS’s Emmy-award winning series, Independent Lens, is unlocking the PBS Video vault to revive previously aired, fan favorite films.

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This week’s #ThrowbackThursday offering is Summer Pasture, the story of a young nomadic couple living with their infant daughter in eastern Tibet.  The documentary provides a rare window into a highly insular community seldom seen by outsiders. In the collective imagination of Tibet, nomads have traditionally occupied a dual role — romanticized as embodying the purest form of Tibetan identity and mocked as being backwards, uncivilized, and inferior.

Make sure you’re following Independent Lens on Twitter and Instagram to see which docs will be offered next. The “throwback” films are available on PBS.org for one week only, so take advantage while you can!

ITVS and Independent Lens Receive 13 News and Documentary Emmy Nominations

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced this year’s nominees for the 35th annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking. And ITVS is proud to say that nine of our documentaries received 13 nominations for 2013!

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PBS received a total of 43 nominations — the most of any network — including 10 nominations for Independent Lens, 11 nominations for FRONTLINE (two for the ITVS-funded Outlawed in Pakistan), and six for POV (including Reportero), so it’s a great day all around for public media documentaries! The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014, in New York City.

“These Emmy nominations are a testament to the expemplary journalism that independent documentary filmmakers practice,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Deputy Executive Producer. “They reflect the extraordinary vitality and diversity of our vibrant independent documentary community.”

And without further ado, here are the ITVS films receiving Emmy honors: Continue reading

Ask the Expert: Writing the ITVS Treatment

Programming Manager N’Jeri Eaton hosted an informative webinar last week, reviewing the new Open Call submission process and providing insight into writing the ITVS treatment. This archived webinar is available for those who were unable to attend or are looking to brush up on their treatment knowledge. 

Treatment Webinar from ITVS_VIDEO on Vimeo.

“Writing the ITVS Treatment” was the first in a series of webinars ITVS is hosting in an effort to provide more resources for filmmakers applying to Open Call. The following weekly webinars will be held in the lead up to this year’s deadline:

July 17th
Work-in-Progresses That Work Webinar (read the transcript here)

July 24th
ITVS Budgeting Basics Webinar (read our recap here)

July 31st
Open Call Live Chat

Please note, ITVS will be accepting Open Call applications through Friday, August 8th. For more information about the Open Call initiative or ITVS funding in general, please go to the updated funding pages on our website. And stay tuned to our blogTwitter and Facebook!

Attention Filmmakers! Changes to ITVS Open Call

You’ve given us feedback through surveys, emails, phone calls, and one-on-one meetings.  And we have been listening!  The Programming Department is excited to announce some changes to our Open Call initiative.

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The following changes have been made to the application process for the ITVS Open Call initiative. For a complete listing of rules and regulations, please visit the ITVS Open Call page on the ITVS website.

NEW DEADLINE

The upcoming deadline is August 8th.  This will allow filmmakers to learn more about the changes to our application process and update their materials accordingly.  This will also give applicants from the previous round more time to revise their materials before applying again while also providing a breather for Open Call staff.

SHORTER REVIEW PROCESS

Applicant will be notified about the status of the submissions within 15 weeks of the application deadline.   Previously, applicants who went through all three phases of review had to wait up to five months for final funding decisions to be made.  We understand that five months can be a lifetime in the course of a film.

APPLICATION MATERIALS CHANGES

One of the reasons we’re able to shorten the cycle length is that we’re making changes to the application materials. Instead of submitting a condensed three-page program description, we’re now expanding the program description to be up to seven pages in length.

We’ve also changed the length requirements for the work-in-progress sample. Now, we will only accept work samples that are between 10 to 15 minutes or a full rough cut that is within 20% of the proposed length. For example, if you’re applying for an hour long project, your rough cut cannot be any longer than 72 minutes.

If your project gets to the Panel Review phase, then we will only ask you to send a production questionnaire and a full budget in addition to the materials you previously submitted. Continue reading

Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet (In Memoriam)

Maya Angelou to Be Featured in First Documentary About Her Life, on PBS’s American Masters

At the time of Maya Angelou’s death, May 28, 2014, she was participating in the first feature documentary about her life for the American Masters series, Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou this past January and production on the film continues. American Masters  looks forward to her taking her rightful place in the series, albeit posthumously.

Continue reading

Travel the World with the New Season of Global Voices!

ITVS is excited to announce the lineup for the seventh season of Global Voices, the critically acclaimed international documentary series premiering on the WORLD Channel (check local listings).

Travel the world from your living room with the latest season of Global Voices. Airing on the WORLD Channel, season seven kicks off on June 1st with 18 weeks of international documentaries made by independent filmmakers from around the world.

The seventh season of Global Voices opens with the U.S. premiere of Miss Nikki & The Tiger Girls, filmmaker Juliet Lamont’s intimate portrait of a spirited young Australian band manager as she tries to empower Myanmar’s first all-girl band to speak out in one of the world’s most repressive regimes. If you think it’s hard making it as a female pop group, try doing it with a military dictatorship breathing down your neck! Continue reading

PBS Annual Meeting 2014: Guide to the City by the Bay, Part II

The countdown to the 2014 PBS Annual Meeting is in full force! While many will be busy attending different events and sessions, it is important to remember to take some time to sit back and enjoy the wealth of culinary delights San Francisco has to ­offer.

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Check out a few of our favorite food and drink spots, all conveniently located near the Marriot Marquis:

Maiden Lane

Located on a quaint pedestrian only street that used to be the center of San Francisco’s red-light district, Maiden Lane is now lined with high-end retail shops and quiet cafés that spill into the street. Sit back and enjoy a cappuccino, tea, or a tasty treat at one of the outdoor cafés. Maiden Lane, btwn Stockton St. & Kearny St.

Local Edition

Downstairs in the historical Hearst building sits a cocktail bar that will take you back in time. Inspired by the journalism industry of the 50’s and 60’s Local Edition offers contemporary and traditional cocktails. Try their updated versions of the Bloody Mary or Gibson as you sit among vintage San Francisco newspapers.
691 Market Street

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Decisions on Deadline: Online Game Puts Ethics to the Test

“My goal…is to engage the general public in a conversation about public faith in the media, media ethics, and why we need to support institutional journalism even in this era of democratized media.”
– Samantha Grant, filmmaker

Recently Independent Lens premiered the film, A Fragile Trust, the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism.

Inspired by the film, Decisions on Deadline takes the story to another level with a fast-paced game that puts players in the shoes of working journalists as they report on the daily drama of life in Southside, a fictional American town.

We asked producers Samantha Grant and Brittney Shepherd about their foray into making games, their hopes for impact, and ethics and journalism in the digital age.

How did the film, A Fragile Trust, inspire the game?

Samantha Grant (SG): I was a BAVC MediaMaker fellow in 2011, and it was there, during that fellowship, that I first dreamed up the idea for a journalism ethics game. Brittney was attending the fellowship with me, as the co-producer of the film, and at one point during a presentation on gaming, I turned to her as said ‘Yes! A Game!” I wanted to make the game because I realized that the film I was making was bringing up a lot of problems in the field of journalism without offering any solutions. I’m the type of person who, when I see a problem, I immediately start thinking about solutions. Continue reading

PBS Annual Meeting 2014: A Guide to the City by the Bay

In less than a week, public television professionals will gather in ITVS’s hometown of San Francisco for PBS’s Annual Meeting and we thought it would be fun to provide attendees with recommendations for things to do and see while in town.

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Whether you’re a bibliophile in search of some good reading material or just want to experience a bit of indie history, here are a few of our favorite literary, theatre, and music destinations:

City Lights

Founded in 1953, this literary landmark was once the go-to spot for the poets and beatniks of the counterculture era. Today, City Lights is three floors high and filled to the brim with both new releases and obscure titles from small, harder-to-find specialty publishers. If you’re looking for something special to bring back home, check out their local section – you won’t find mementos like these in the airport gift shop! 1585 Folsom Street.

Green Apple Books

Not only does Green Apple make an appearance on just about every “Best of the Bay Area” list there is, in 2012 author Dave Eggers named it one of the best bookstores in the country. Come prepared by grabbing a snack at the nearby Toy Boat Dessert Café, because you truly could spend hours browsing one of the largest collections of used books in the city.  506 Clement Street

Castro Theatre

While the film on the screen may be the main attraction, this 1920s movie palace truly steals the show; the fantasy setting includes ornate ceilings, gold-framed mirrors, dramatic mezzanine staircases, and a pipe organ that is played before selected films and events. You’ll find a wide array of films and activities on the schedule, including repertory movies, cult classics, theme nights, film festivals, and sing-a-longs. 429 Castro Street Continue reading

In Loving Memory of Danny Anker

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The documentary community is mourning last week’s loss of exceptional filmmaker and esteemed colleague, Danny Anker. Senior Producer and head of production at ITVS Richard O’Connell pays tribute.

The passing of Danny Anker on Monday, April 21st is a huge loss for all of us who care about the art and craft of documentary film. Danny is best known for his narrative documentaries, Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust and his Oscar-nominated film, Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, which was broadcast on PBS.

I was lucky enough to work with Danny when he was making his film Music From the Inside Out, a film that remains one of my personal favorites. It has all the elements we have come to expect of documentary filmmaking at its very best: original, captivating, artistic, heartfelt, and of course, enlightening. Music From the Inside Out would go on to be presented on Independent Lens and be seen widely across the world in festivals and with a limited theatrical release – a huge success by anyone’s standards.

Danny strongly believed that public television was the best home for Music from the Inside Out. Much like the way he explored music in the documentary, Danny wanted the film to be accessible to everyone. His meticulous and exacting approach in all aspects of filmmaking was evident in the impeccable production values of the film, particularly the knock-out recordings of the music. It was also a joy to witness his beautifully crafted insights into both the creative process and his belief as to why music is so important to our lives.

The film was a testament to Danny’s creativity and the originality of his approach, which is one of the reasons why this film is the one I most often want to share, even with my own children. Working with Danny was a pleasure and while I am not saying it was always easy, Danny’s tenacity and passion for his work exemplified the nature of what it takes to be successful in this field. He was a true independent producer, a model professional, and like all great documentary filmmakers, his dedication and passion to the project never wavered – despite the film taking more than six years to complete. ITVS is very proud to have worked alongside Danny and consider it a privilege to have shared his work with the public television audience.