Women are transforming the landscape of public media through innovation, audience engagement and new forms of storytelling. Our proposed SXSW panel, Women Lead: Public Media in the 21st Century, presents women as innovators and collaborators and will examine how multiple stories told through both traditional and digital media can work in concert to illuminate issues, create sustained, global conversations and invite the public to get involved.
The entry point to the conversation is our new public media initiative, Women and Girls Lead– an unprecedented campaign that activates public television and radio producers, social media strategists, interactive and game designers, and multiple NGO partners committed to affecting change for women and girls around the world. Watch, listen and interact with a variety of content created for this campaign and hear from some 0of the leading women in their field about their experiences working in a 21st century media environment.
ITVS made a splash in Austin, TX at last week’s SXSW festival, which included the second season premiere of FUTURESTATES. Our social media guru Jonathan Archer put together a twitter recap to relay everything you might have missed at the festival. Click below the jump for the full Storify recap. Enjoy!
“Sunshine is a refreshing and compelling self-portrait of an adopted woman driven to search for her pride and identity while reconnecting with her biological mother.” -Wellsphere.com
“Profoundly affecting. Even resistant guys will find themselves melting in the sunshine.” -Austin American Stateman
Has your life ever taken an unexpected detour? Just in time for Mother’s Day, filmmaker Karen Skloss reunites with her biological mother to tell a personal story about adoption and life as a single mother, while grappling with the definition of family. Young, pregnant, single, and unprepared, Skloss struggles with incredible ironies — that history has repeated itself, and that efforts to protect family can sometimes do the most harm. Sunshinepremieres tonight, Tuesday, May 4 at 10:00 on Independent Lens on PBS (check local listings).
Held annually in Austin, Texas, South By Southwest (SXSW) is considered one of the world’s premiere festivals, recognizing the best of film, music and interactive projects. ITVS Programming Manager Karim Ahmad gives some of the highlights from ITVS’s participation –– including the FUTURESTATES theatrical world premiere.
Programming Manager Karim Ahmad.
Matthew Meschery, ITVS director of digital initiatives, discusses FUTURESTATES at the SXSW trade show.
Preparation for a trip to the SXSW film festival usually entails digging through their program guide jam-packed full of screenings and panels and the like, and trying to figure out how to fit it all in. Soon thereafter, you realize that fitting it all in is a Sisyphean exercise –– it’s just plain impossible. This year in particular was a real banner year for ITVS at SXSW because we had the great pleasure and privilege of presenting the theatrical premiere of FUTURESTATES, our new series of short films, at the festival.
The films premiered Sunday evening to a huge crowd and some very animated reactions in the Austin Convention Center’s 500-seat G-Tech Theater. For me, it was a real thrill after over a year of developing these projects with the filmmakers, to finally get to watch these films with an audience and see how people relate to these innovative new stories about life in a future America.
Of course, the hordes of people who attended our opening didn’t get there all on their own. We had our work cut out for us getting people to the screening (see the aforementioned scheduling impossibilities). Luckily, in addition to me pounding the pavement from screening to screening promoting the FUTURESTATES premiere –– a tall order, when one is pre-occupied with reaching out to the next round of prospective FUTURESTATES applicants –– I also helped out our communications team. They manned a booth at the festival trade show, which was decked out to the nines in full FUTURESTATES regalia. At the booth, we screened some of the films; had a “Predict-O-Meter” station, where folks could enter their predictions into the interactive timeline; and of course, a generous supply of FUTURESTATES-branded microwave popcorn (must-have for any trade show booth).
Last weekend, FUTURESTATES had its theatrical world premiere at South by Southwest (SXSW). These narrative mini-features explore many of today’s complex social issues by imagining how they play out in the world of tomorrow. Find out what happened at the screening from Aldo Velasco, filmmaker of the FUTURESTATES episode Tent City.
Actor Mikel Chase with Aldo Velasco after the FUTURESTATES screening at SXSW.
When I learned that my film Tent City would be screening at SXSW as part of the FUTURESTATES presentation, I was editing a feature film in production in a jungle in India, near the Bhutanese border. I wanted to go to Austin but wasn’t sure if it was worth it; I’d have to leave production a week early, then travel for three and a half days around the globe to make it in time.
It was a crapshoot, because festival screenings are often a bit of a letdown. You arrive full of high hopes, but audiences rarely provide the kind of rapturous response that every filmmaker craves. But I had to see Tent City in front of an audience. This might be my only chance, because the FUTURESTATES shorts were created for Internet broadcast. Would my film’s complex story-within-a-story structure play in front of a crowd? One thing was for sure: I myself would not be able to enjoy my own screening. I’d be too nervous and too hypersensitive to the audience’s mood to relax.
But on Sunday, March 14, I was very pleasantly surprised. My film –– in fact all the films –– looked gorgeous splayed onto that stadium-sized screen at the Austin Convention Center. My previous digital shorts had looked a bit fuzzy when blown up to the silver screen. But Tent City, which was shot on the RED camera by the very talented Mathew Rudenberg, looked breathtaking –– at least to me! A large portion of my film is composed of black and white stills, used to relay a futuristic science-fiction story in the manner of Chris Marker’s La Jetée. With their inky blacks and icy whites, these stark still images surpassed all my expectations for the force of their narrative power.
Plan on attending South by Southwest (SXSW)? If so, you won’t want to miss the theatrical world premiere of FUTURESTATES –– ITVS’s new fictional series that explores what life will look like in America in the decades and centuries to come.
Join us on Sunday, March 14 at 5:00 PM, where we’ll be screening the following FUTURESTATES mini-features:
This is a unique opportunity to see these groundbreaking new films on the big screen at the one-of-a-kind SXSW Film Festival in high definition. Filmmakers Greg Pak, Annie Howell, Aldo Velasco, and Garret Williams will also be in attendance for a Q&A session, in addition to members of the ITVS staff.
This is your chance to ask all your pressing questions and learn more about this innovative project that’s unlike anything you’ve seen in public media.
Earlier this week, PBS affiliate KLRU in Austin, Texas, commemorated Texas Independents’ Day by celebrating the work of three local filmmakers whose work will appear on this season of Independent Lens. Learn more about the event from Keith Maitland, filmmaker of The Eyes of Me.
Filmmaker Keith Maitland with film subjects of The Eyes of Me.
Panel moderator Paul Stekler leads a round table discussion with Keith Maitland, filmmaker of The Eyes of Me; Karen Skloss, filmmaker of Sunshine; Michel Scott, filmmaker of The Horse Boy.
Last night, nearly 200 people gathered in a dark room to share an hour-long look into the lives of four blind teenagers. With the twinkling lights of the Austin City Limits stage as a backdrop, I couldn’t ask for a more fitting place to experience the incredible communal experience of watching the live Independent Lens broadcast of The Eyes of Me.
The Eyes of Me follows four blind teens over the course of one dynamic year. It’s about watching these teens growing up before our eyes. As they discover who they are, it is my hope that you will discover something about yourself –– it’s about challenging your own perception and seeing yourself in a new way… at least that’s what it’s always been about for me.
The entire process of creating this film, from a nascent idea, through 250 hours of rolling cameras, and two and half years of editing, has been both rewarding and challenging in degrees that I’m still not sure I can register. Along the way, I have learned many lessons about my creative processes, and my own humanity.
Held annually in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest (SXSW) is considered one of the world’s premiere festivals, recognizing the best of film, music and interactive projects. This year’s festival takes place March 12-21.
We’re really excited about this year’s festival! You won’t want to miss the world premiere of six episodes of our new online fictional series FUTURESTATES on March 14. These narrative mini-features explore many of today’s complex social issues by imagining how they play out in the world of tomorrow.
Held annually in Austin, Texas, South By Southwest (SXSW) is considered one of the world’s premiere festivals, recognizing the best of film, music and interactive projects. ITVS Programming Manager Karim Ahmad gives some of the highlights from ITVS’s and PBS’s participation from this past week.
ITVS Programming Manager Karim Ahmad with WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM co-producer Megan Gilbride and Kyle Henry.
Karen Skloss, director of SUNSHINE, with Aaron Gaudet, director of THE WAY WE GET BY, winner of the Special Jury Prize at SXSW.
Despite unseasonably cold and wet weather in Austin (and an economic crunch felt industry wide), the opening weekend of the SXSW film and interactive festival was as frenzied as ever.
I arrived in Austin a couple days before the start of the festival, which allowed me a taste of the city––sans festival. I welcomed the proverbial calm before the storm. But more importantly, arriving early gave me the opportunity to conduct a proposal-writing seminar at the University of Texas for students of the graduate film and TV department. UT Austin has long been the stomping ground for many members of the ITVS-funded filmmaker family, so I was glad to reach out to this group before graduation.
In fact, many UT alumni had films in the festival, including Keith Maitland, director of the innovative and impactful ITVS-funded film THE EYES OF ME, Karen Skloss, also ITVS-funded for her fearless and evocative film SUNSHINE, and Ben Steinbauer, whose film Winnebago Man proved a festival favorite––not only due to its highly entertaining nature, but also a special appearance by the Winnebago Man himself, Jack Rebney who has become a hit on YouTube. Other ITVS-funded films at the festival included GOODBYE SOLO, directed by Ramin Bahrani, and THE WAY WE GET BY, directed by Aaron Gaudet, and winner of the Special Jury Award in the documentary competition.
Once the festival was in full swing, I was engaged in the usual juggling act of screenings and meetings and panels galore. At SXSW, there is always far too much happening at one time to do it all! But the panels I attended offered some interesting case studies on distribution and marketing in the brave new world of new media. SXSW demonstrated that digital distribution continues to be a hot topic, and while no one has it all completely figured out, there’s much to be gleaned from forays to date. “The Future of DVD and Digital Distribution” was one such panel, wherein a lengthy discussion took place about the relatively low revenue earned by digital distribution compared to fees earned by television licenses. Rick Allen of SnagFilms likened the state of online video today to the early days of cable, and noted that it took decades to get cable advertising price parity with what it is now. Another hot topic was, as always, funding––and that in this economic climate. Private equity funding for film and TV is slimmer than ever, highlighting the importance of public funding opportunities like ITVS.
Not generally one for the festival party circuit, my evenings mostly consisted of opting for oversized portions of Texas BBQ. But I was happy to make an exception Sunday evening, when ITVS and PBS welcomed festival attendees to our Happy Hour at the Mooseknuckle Pub. This Sixth Street locale was packed with festival-goers and filmmakers alike; eating, drinking and merriment ensued, as the entire shindig was streamed live by PBS Engage (check out a clip of the music performance below).
By Monday, as clouds faded and the temperature rose, I managed to squeeze in a few precious minutes of sun between mentor sessions with emerging filmmakers, before returning to the vestiges of winter in San Francisco that evening, feeling both exhausted and sated from a full schedule at what remains one of my favorite film festivals in the country.
Programming Manager, ITVS
PBS Engage hosted a Social Media & Online Video Studio on Sixth Street. Check out the interview below with ITVS-funded filmmaker Gary Huswit, (HELVETICA/Independent Lens), who discusses his new film Objectified.