Summer Pastureand the Why Poverty?series were among the programs honored on Monday at theGeorge Foster Peabody Awards in New York City. Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody is one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.
The 72nd Annual Peabody Award Luncheon on Monday, May 20, 2013. Courtesy of Lois Vossen.
Summer Pasture and two of the documentaries from the Why Poverty? series, ITVS-funded Park Avenue and Solar Mamas, aired on Independent Lens in 2012, representing the only PBS programming to be recognized at this year’s ceremony. Independent Lens Senior Series Producer Lois Vossen attended the luncheon and accepted the Summer Pasture award on behalf of the filmmakers, who were unable to attend:
“It was an honor to attend the Peabody Awards to accept a Peabody on behalf of Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo for their beautiful film Summer Pasture. Independent Lens was also awarded a Peabody for Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream and Solar Mamas, which broadcast as part of the Why Poverty? series. Winning PBS’s two Peabody Awards this year is further indication of the extraordinary and extraordinarily important work independent filmmakers do. Their unyielding passion and commitment to journalism makes them a vital part of public television. We need their voices now more than ever. It also didn’t hurt that Judd Apatow told me today how much he loves Independent Lens and that it is one of his favorite series!” Continue reading →
April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. and while Women and Girls Lead campaign partners were doing their part to advocate for survivors, our main efforts went to raising public awareness through film. We started the month with the highly anticipated two-part series premiere of Kind Hearted Woman, a documentary by David Sutherland. We’ve also been preparing for the upcoming May 13th broadcast of the Academy Award nominated documentary The Invisible War by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. These two films in particular show the powerful potential for storytelling to support healing.
An act of violence can last only minutes, but the effects on a survivor can linger for a lifetime. According to the World Health Organization, survivors of sexual assault are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide. Multiply that times the 18 percent of women and girls who experience sexual assault, and the U.S. has a startling health epidemic on its hands. While awareness about prevention and punishment has steadily increased, Kind Hearted Woman and The Invisible War paint a rarely seen picture of what it takes to heal from the long-term effects of sexual violence.
In Kind Hearted Woman, we met Robin Poor Bear, a charismatic Oglala Sioux woman and mother of two. Robin is in a battle with sobriety after years of sexual abuse drove her to alcohol abuse. Robin’s story is not unique – alcohol abuse is 13 times more likely for survivors of gender-based violence. In the five-hour series, which was filmed over three years, we watch Robin heal before our eyes as her voice grows more self-assured, the bonds with her children deepen, and she remains steadfastly sober. “The more I tell my story, the stronger it’s gonna make me,” Robin declares. Watch Kind Hearted Woman online.
Viewers who tuned in to the Kind Hearted Woman broadcast on Independent Lens and FRONTLINE April 1st and 2nd responded to Robin’s story with an outpouring of compassion and support. Some even asked if there was a way they could contribute financially. As a result, the filmmakers established a fund where people can send donations to Robin and her family to use throughout their healing process. Learn more about the Robin Poor Bear Fund.
Kind Hearted Woman is also being used to train healthcare professionals in treating and responding to the harmful effects of violence. The Man Up Campaign and the American Indian Community House hosted a screening at Mount Sinai Hospital to facilitate a discussion on treating and responding to the harmful effects of violence. Throughout the year, Man Up partners with Native American communities to train and equip male advocates in fighting the high rates of gender-based violence on reservations.
During the May 13th broadcast of The Invisible War, viewers will meet U.S. service women and men who are living with the effects of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), a term developed in response to the widespread problem of rape in the military. MST is akin to post-traumatic stress disorder, which is characterized by severe anxiety, stress, or fear. On the whole, survivors of sexual assault are six times more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Amy Herdy says in her interview for The Invisible War, “I have never seen trauma like I have seen from veterans who have suffered Military Sexual Trauma.”
When several of the survivors come together to file a lawsuit regarding their sexual assault cases, a powerful shift occured. They find strength in their common stories. “I’m not alone,” survivor Kori Coica repeats in the film, “I’m not alone.” The film’s Executive Producer Regina Kulik Scully hopes to recreate this transformative effect in the newly established Artemis Rising Invisible War Recovery Program. The program, which welcomed its first group of veterans in February 2013, offers specialized, non-pharmaceutical treatment for survivors of MST.
In addition to the filmmaker’s efforts, our partner RAINN is working closely with the Department of Defense to offer a Safe Helpline to members of the military. The hotline makes available trained, impartial advocates who can counsel service women and men on what to do if they experience, witness, or feel at risk of sexual assault. Learn how to contact the Safe Helpline.
Also check out one of RAINN’s public service announcements, which is available to Women and Girls Lead partners and stations to use in support of the Kind Hearted Woman and The Invisible War broadcasts:
Summer Pastureand the Why Poverty? series were among the ITVS programs to earn the George Foster Peabody Awards this year. Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Peabody is one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.
Congratulations to the filmmakers on this incredible achievement! This brings the total of Peabody awards for ITVS films to 24.
Summer Pasture, an Independent Lens program, is the unique love story of Locho and Yama, nomadic herders in Tibet faced with a difficult choice as their way of life begins to give way to the modern world.
Why Poverty?is a collection of eight films, co-productions of ITVS and STEPS International, that are part of a global cross-media project aimed at raising awareness of poverty in America and around the world.
The Peabody Awards will be presented May 20, 2013 at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City with Scott Pelley, anchor of The CBS Evening News, as this year’s emcee.
Recognized for personifying “Television with a Conscience,” the landmark PBS program is based on the book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The four-part series follows six actress-advocates as they travel to six countries and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.
The film premiered last October as part of public media’s Women and Girls Lead initiative. Watch the trailer for the doc after the jump. Continue reading →
Alison Klayman, the director of upcoming Independent Lens documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, will be participating in a Twitter chat on Monday, February 25, 2013, at 11am PST/ 2pm EST. She will be taking questions and providing insight into one of the most celebrated (and controversial) artists/activists of our time, Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei is arguably the most internationally celebrated Chinese artist of the modern era. The inscrutable bearded visionary burst onto the scene with vast conceptual installations, such as his eight million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds inside Tate Modern, and went on to design the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics. But at heart, Ai Weiwei is a troublemaker with a serious agenda: to challenge the oppression of the Chinese people by their government with rebellious and irreverent gestures. His activism has cost him his freedom repeatedly, but he never seems to lose his childlike approach to serious dissidence executed with a wink.
As the director and producer of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Klayman started filming in 2008 hoping to use the film as a way to help people around the world learn something new about China through the eyes of Ai Weiwei. During her time filming, she spent countless hours with the charismatic and fascinating artist, learning the motivations behind both his art and activism.
Ask Alison a question either before or during the chat by posting to Twitter with the hashtag #AWWchat. Continue reading →
By Sharon La Cruise Director, Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock
As a black woman who was a feminist before the term was invented, Daisy Bates refused to accept her assigned place in society. Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock tells the story of her life and public support of nine black students to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, which culminated in a constitutional crisis—pitting a president against a governor and a community against itself. Filmmaker Sharon La Cruise shares a personal side to Daisy not covered in the documentary, which is currently streaming on PBS Video.
Daisy and L.C. at State Press
With another Valentine’s Day behind us, I’ve found myself thinking about Daisy and L.C. Bates and their unusual love story. The complexity of their relationship always fascinated me, ever since my first visit to Arkansas in 2004. I was there in search of a saint named Daisy Bates, whom I wanted to feature in my first documentary.
I had become enamored with Daisy and was on a mission to meet the people who knew her best. Much to my surprise, I found out there was no “Saint Daisy” and that, according to residents of Little Rock, her husband, L.C. Bates, was the true saint for putting up with her and the many unpardonable sins committed during the course of their marriage.
The couple had met when Daisy was fifteen and L.C. was twenty-seven years old. In photographs, L.C. never looked particularly young—he always gave the sense of being perpetually old. Daisy, however, was stunning and oozed sex like the 1950s movie stars Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne. In private, Daisy admitted to close friends that she didn’t always love L.C. As I pieced together their life stories, I realized Daisy had suffered a horrible childhood trauma while growing up in Arkansas. When they met, Daisy was an angry teenager trying to come to terms with the rape and murder of her mother and her father’s abandonment.
L.C. drove into the town selling life insurance and instantly became Daisy’s ticket out. But L.C. was married, which meant Daisy was stuck being his mistress for the next ten years. During that time Daisy made sure L.C. felt both her love and her wrath. When they fought it was not unusual for Daisy to throw plates at L.C.’s head. Continue reading →
Filmmaker Bonnie Boswell has an unusually close tie to her forthcoming film, The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights.Whitney Young, Jr., was her uncle and his parents helped raise her. Independent Lens sat down with Boswell to learn more about how her early life influenced her film. The Powerbroker premieres February 18 at 10pm PST on PBS (check local listings).
You didn’t just do a documentary on something that interested you. You did it on something you lived.
Yes, my early childhood was spent at Lincoln Institute, a black boarding high school in Kentucky where my grandfather was principal and my uncle was born. My grandparents raised me. If you came into their orbit, they raised you. My grandmom was supermom.
What was one of their main influences on you?
Both of my grandparents taught all of us on campus that despite the ills of segregation, never succumb to anger. “Don’t get mad, get smart,” they said. “Never let anyone drag you so low as to hate them.” These words of wisdom, I believe, helped Whitney Young become the great mediator of the 1960s civil rights movement. Continue reading →
Filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, the man behind the new app BizVizz
BizVizz is a brand-new free iPhone app that makes corporate behavior transparent and available to all. Just snap a picture of a brand’s logo or bar code, and presto: A simple, graphic screen tells you the financial truth about 300 of America’s largest corporations.
Independent Lenssat down with BizVizz co-founder Brad Lichtenstein, the filmmaker behind the award-winning PBS Independent Lens documentary, As Goes Janesville, to find out more about the app.
Congratulations on BizVizz going live! OK, so let’s set the scene for the app’s practical use. I’m shopping. I see my favorite cereal, and scan the logo on my smartphone using BizVizz. Up pops all kinds of information about the company: profits, donations, taxes paid, government subsidies, etc. What am I supposed to do with this information?
A lot of people these days are very conscious of how the products they use and consume are made. Fair trade, green, how a company treats its workforce — these are values people care about. We think BizVizz is another way for people to shop their values, especially when we are into our fifth year of economic recovery and asked to sacrifice.
We think people will care when they learn that one company pays their fair share of taxes vs. another that pays none at all. BizVizz is such an easy way for people to find out this information, plus it’s fun to take pictures of logos — though maybe not so fun to learn that all of the brands on the typical grocery shelf lead to just a couple of companies.
Could an app that easily reveals this kind of information be seen by some as anti-business? BizVizz shows that this exerting influence is not a Republican or Democratic thing. It’s a power thing. Ordinary citizens don’t have the political muscle to write tax laws. We think of BizVizz as a tool to give people like you and me some power to point out how the system is unfair, and influence on the law-making process is something that money buys in America, which ultimately corrupts our democracy. Continue reading →
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 →
Independent Lens’ founding series producer, Lois Vossen, offers her advice on how to survive the landmark festival in Park City, and talks about some of the recent PBS hits that got their start at Sundance. A longtime Sundance Veteran, Vossen winds up seeing up to five films a day as she scours the town for new talent in documentary film.
Click here to see more on the ground coverage at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.