The Interrupters’ Ameena Matthew Battles Leukemia

Ameena in The Interrupters

Those of you who have seen the critically lauded documentary The Interrupters, an ITVS-funded film by Steve James (Hoop Dreams; Life Itself) that aired on PBS’s FRONTLINE last year, will be saddened to hear that its main subject, Ameena Matthews, is battling leukemia and lymphoma. While Ameena is no longer an employee of Ceasefire, the violence prevention organization featured in The Interrupters, she has been a vital part of Chicago’s efforts to help reduce its epidemic of gang warfare. Via our friends at Kartemquin Films, you can be proactive in lending a hand to Ameena’s fight by contributing to a campaign to cover her medical costs.

The Interrupters is also currently available to watch online for free via PBS Video.

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!


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

A Letter from Kind Hearted Woman’s Robin Poor Bear

Part 1 of Kind Hearted Woman, a pillar program of the Women and Girls Lead campaign, premiered last night on the PBS series Independent Lens. Viewers met Robin Poor Bear and her family through the lens of independent filmmaker David Sutherland. The candid portrait pays tribute to one family’s resilience, strength, and courage in the face of abuse and injustice. Hear from Robin in her own words about why she and her family chose to participate in a film that closely documents the struggles of domestic violence in the Native American community. Tune in to FRONTLINE tonight at 9/8c to watch Part 2 of Kind Hearted Woman (check local listings).

KHW_kids_2_WAGLIt is with a humble heart that I welcome you into my life. Please know that witnessing my story may trigger intense reactions in those who are still in situations of abuse and recovery. Please also know you are not alone. You are the reason I chose to participate in this film, because I made a promise to myself that if others were inspired to find help and gain a better understanding, then this film would be worth doing.

Throughout my entire life, I have struggled with the aftershock of trauma from my childhood experiences of sexual abuse. I had no idea who “Robin” was, certainly no idea who “Kind Hearted Woman” (my Native American name) was. I struggled with the question, why? Why was I abused over and over and over again?

I struggled until, one night after I had prayed and asked, why? I had a dream (vision) of someone dying in the family and everyone in the house knew what had happened to the person but would not tell. They would not say anything when the police came and questioned everyone. Then, right before they left, I finally found the strength to open my mouth and say “I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.” When I woke up, I knew then and there that I needed to make the commitment to do the film. I needed to bear witness to my own life so that others would learn from my experience and know that there is a way out of the darkness.

Once I made that decision, I lost certain family members and had no idea of what was to come ahead for me. I never anticipated that my children would be taken and kept from me; in my culture it is not acceptable for Native American women to talk about the sexual abuse they experienced as a child. They certainly don’t go out and make a documentary film about it. Continue reading

ITVS Kicks Off the New Year With TCA Press Tour

Another Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour has come and gone, with ITVS programs taking up a significant portion of the PBS lineup! With panels for Independent Lens (featuring The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights and The House I Live In), Kind Hearted Woman (a FRONTLINE and Independent Lens co-presentation), and Women and Girls Lead partner MAKERS: Women Who Make America, the spring lineup for PBS promises to  be chock full culturally diverse programming.

PBS concluded the TCA Winter Press Tour at Pasadena’s Langham Hotel as it unveiled the upcoming spring lineup for the critics.

On Tuesday, Independent Lens and FRONTLINE kicked off Day 2 of press tour with an emotional panel previewing Kind Hearted Woman, filmmaker David Sutherland’s documentary following Robin Charboneau, an Oglala Sioux woman in North Dakota, as she struggles between saving her family and risking it all to help her Indian community and abused women. Continue reading

The ITVS Indie Roundup

A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.

And you thought the logistics of your documentary were complicated. To produce The Iran Job, Till Schauder had to stuff the footage of his documentary in his underwear while traveling to duck the U.S. embargo against Iran. The movie, about American basketballers playing in Iran, opens this fall.

Frontline has found innovative ways to repurpose leftover footage. For The Choice 2012, a biographical doc about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, the series did more than 100 interviews. Instead of letting those go to waste, Frontline has produced the one-on-ones in a multimedia package of oral histories.

If you’re interested in writing a blockbuster feature, Raindance has broken it down into five simple stepsContinue reading

Celebrate American Graduate Day With Public Media

American Graduate Day, a multi-platform event being held on Saturday, September 22, features local and national programming, partners, and celebrities focused on improving the nation’s graduation rates.

Launched in 2011 by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen is public media’s initiative to help communities address the dropout crisis. The project includes television and radio specials, screenings, Teacher Town Halls with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, community partnerships, engaging curricula for students in an out of the classroom, and includes ITVS programming that focuses on the Latino community. The high school dropout rate is an issue that has many faces and affects people in many walks of life—and people across the country are taking action.

More than 20 national partner organizations, celebrities, and athletes are coming together to celebrate the first ever American Graduate Day on September 22, 2012. With a national TV broadcast produced by WNET New York Public Media, a PRX produced radio broadcast with premiere documentaries, and local content provided by PBS and NPR, this public media initiative will help spotlight solutions to the nation’s dropout crisis. Continue reading

FRONTLINE and City Year Present a Social Screening of Middle School Moment

FRONTLINE and City Year will present an online social screening and discussion of Middle School Moment on Thursday, August 23 at 4:30PM PT/ 7:30PM ET. Special guest panelists will participate in the event, which will take place here.

Watch Middle School Moment on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Nationwide, 7,000 students drop out every school day, but new evidence suggests that the make-or-break moment for high school dropouts may actually occur in middle school. FRONTLINE examines one Bronx school’s unique approach in A Middle School Moment.

Join FRONTLINE and City Year today at 4:30PM PT/ 7:30PM ET for a live social screening of the documentary and take part in an open conversation with City Year’s Charlie Rose, Bethiel Girma, and FRONTLINE producer Mary Robertson. Continue reading

ITVS Presents a Social Screening of The Interrupters

ITVS presents an online social screening of Steve James’ The Interrupters on Thursday, May 31 at 11AM PT / 2PM ET. The event will take place here.

From acclaimed producer-director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and best-selling author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here),  The Interrupters tells the stories of three “violence interrupters” who, with bravado, humility, and even humor, try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once employed.

Join us for the first hour of The Interrupters with a real time panel of special guests, who will be taking part in the screening to talk about the themes of the film and take your questions live. You may continue to watch the The Interrupters after the panel ends here. Continue reading

Live Online Screening of The Interrupters

Kartemquin Films, PBS Frontline, and ITVS invite you to join the filmmakers and subjects of The Interrupters for a special live, online “social screening” of the film beginning at 5:30PM PT / 8:30PM ET. Follow this link to participate in the screening.

Watch The Interrupters Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Participating in the screening will be the film’s producers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz, and violence interrupter Cobe Williams. More participants are still to be confirmed.
Continue reading

Oakland Rallies Behind The Interrupters

Last week, Community Cinema broke records at the Oakland Museum of California with more than 450 audience members in attendance for The Interrupters.  The documentary, by filmmaker Steve James, will premiere Tuesday February 14 on PBS’ FRONTLINE. Watch a clip from the Community screening in Oakland, below:

In partnership with KQED, The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Youth ALIVE!, the Urban Peace Movement, and a host of other youth organizations represented, the film showed to a standing room only packed house in two theaters.

Youth were at the center of the discussion and made up the majority of the audience.  The panel included Ameena Matthews and Eddie Bocanegra, Violence Interrupters featured in the film.