Diversity Development Fund Announces New Projects

ITVS has announced the eight documentary projects selected as part of the 2013 Diversity Development Fund, a funding initiative that provides research and development funding to producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television. 

ddf

This year’s selections provide extraordinary access and insight into the daily lives and struggles of people around the world, from Navajo railroad workers in the U.S. to an interracial punk band during the height of apartheid in South Africa.

The productions were selected through a competitive application process, which resulted in 114 submissions.

Check out the complete list of funded projects after the jump. Continue reading

Submit Your Film to Independent Lens!

IL_call_01_PBS_IL_Home_645x331

Independent Lens is currently seeking submissions of films in advanced rough cut or fine cut stage or completed films to broadcast during the October 2014 – June 2015 season. To learn more about eligibility, what we’re looking for, and to complete our online submission form go to www.ilsubmissions.org.

Any questions? Feel free to drop a line to ILsubmissions@itvs.org.

ITVS Responds to The New Yorker article on Park Avenue and Citizen Koch

ITVS LOGO

In the past week, The New Yorker published an article drawing a connection between corporate influence and freedom of expression that has generated a flurry of press coverage.

ITVS appreciates the scrutiny of the important issue of corporate influence on public broadcasting, and indeed on media in general. As a majority-publicly-funded institution, a rarity even within public broadcasting, ITVS has long been proud of our ability to act independently of corporate and government influence.

Our history of providing top-flight journalism among the rich mix of films we help bring to public broadcasting often puts us in the position of taking on powerful stakeholders. Viewers depend on ITVS-funded filmmakers for the high-quality independent documentaries that appear on our signature TV series Independent Lens and on other PBS series including POV, Frontline, and American Masters.

We treasure our relationship with our viewers, with public broadcasting, and our many other community and NGO partners. Above all, we hold dear our relationships with independent producers and deeply respect the courage and tenacity it takes to tell authentic, compelling stories that inform and connect citizens in a noisy 21st century media space.

As a matter of policy, ITVS respects the privacy of filmmakers and our negotiations. We therefore declined an interview request from The New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer for a May 20, 2013 article she was framing around two documentaries with storylines on David H. Koch. In the days after its publication, we continued to decline interview requests from other outlets.

ITVS now believes the rising flow of misinformation surrounding Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream and Citizen Koch requires public exposure of the facts. We believe these facts demonstrate our commitment to the creative vision of filmmakers, independent journalistic documentaries, and diverse perspectives on issues that are critical for our American democracy and culture.

Here are the facts:

  • ITVS not only supports but also seeks out and funds hard-hitting journalistic documentaries on timely and important issues. ITVS funded and shepherded to Independent Lens in the current season alone award-winning films such as Park Avenue, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and As Goes Janesville. The quality of Independent Lens programs is reflected in 10 Peabody awards and seven Emmys for the series, which is co-curated with PBS.
  • ITVS funded Alex Gibney’s film Park Avenue, and Independent Lens senior series producer Lois Vossen worked closely with him, per standard protocol, to meet PBS editorial standards and have the film broadcast on PBS.
  • In April 2012, ITVS sent filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal a standard letter inviting them to begin negotiations for production license funding from ITVS based on their written proposal. Communications between the filmmakers and ITVS continued until April 2013, well beyond the Park Avenue broadcast on November 12, 2012.
  • ITVS initially recommended the film Citizen Corp for production licensing based on a written proposal. Early cuts of the film, including the Sundance version, did not reflect the proposal, however, and ITVS eventually withdrew its offer of a production agreement to acquire public television exhibition rights. The film was neither contracted nor funded.
  • ITVS has worked with thousands of independent filmmakers since our inception. We are committed to supporting the creative vision of filmmakers and respectfully acknowledge that their creative process will bring forth films that no longer reflect the original proposal on which ITVS based its funding recommendation. Filmmakers sometimes choose a new path during the negotiations of the ITVS production agreement as other financial, distribution, and editorial opportunities arise. In the case of the proposed project Citizen Corp (later retitled Citizen Koch), the filmmakers’ shift in editorial direction from the written proposal during the negotiation window led ITVS to cease negotiations.
  • ITVS works hard to shepherd programs en route to broadcast, but it has no authority over the national or local public television schedule. Neither ITVS nor Independent Lens confirmed a broadcast slot for Citizen Corp.
  • ITVS did not attach its name to Citizen Koch at Sundance Film Festival because a production licensing agreement had not been executed.
  • ITVS did not share a cut of Citizen Koch to PBS or any public television station because the film was never contracted by ITVS. The filmmakers continue to control distribution of their film.

Public broadcasting is a complex set of mostly independently operating entities, including PBS, broadcast stations, and a variety of producing organizations. ITVS is unique in this ecosystem. We hope the important conversation about corporate influence will continue, within not only public broadcasting but also the broader media, and stay grounded in facts and substance.

ITVS Honored at the 72nd Annual Peabody Awards

Summer Pasture and the Why Poverty? series were among the programs honored on Monday at the George 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.

btb_peabody_feature

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

This April, Bitter Seeds Comes to Public Television

Airing on public television throughout April, Bitter Seeds is an examination of the debate surrounding biotechnology and the future of farming.

Biotechnology is changing the way farming is done all over the world. Advocates believe the “New Green Revolution” is the only way to provide sufficient food for the world’s growing population while opponents raise environmental concerns and fear that GMOs drive small-scale farmers off the land. Bitter Seeds explores the controversy — from a village in India that uses genetically modified seeds to U.S. government agencies that promote them.

Directed by Micha Peled, the filmmaker behind China Blue and Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to TownBitter Seeds premieres on public television this month (check local listings).

FUTURESTATES Returns!

The fourth season of FUTURESTATES brings seven visions of the future from seven cutting-edge indie filmmakers

And we’re back! Public media’s #1 online series of independently-produced, socially conscious, science fiction short films returns for another season of forward thinking, genre-bending, no-holds-barred explorations into the future of American society. In Season Four, seven filmmakers envision our world at a crossroads, where discrimination, environmental catastrophe, visitors from the future, and even other worlds test the bonds of our humanity. Will we stand together or break apart? Nothing is inevitable but the future.

Produced by ITVS and created by established filmmakers such as Rose Troche, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, and Christopher Munch, as well as many emerging talents, FUTURESTATES films launch April 24, 2013 and will be available to stream for free at futurestates.tv and simultaneously on pbs.org every Wednesday. Don’t miss it!

Kind Hearted Woman Premieres Tonight on PBS

Kind Hearted Woman, a special co-presentation from Independent Lens and FRONTLINE, will premiere Monday, April 1st on PBS. The two-part documentary is a Women and Girls Lead pillar program.

In this two-part series, acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland creates an unforgettable portrait of Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Robin over three years as she struggles to raise her two children, further her education, and heal herself from the wounds of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.

Join the Online Social Screening April 17 at 11am PT / 2pm ET

Watch a 90-minute version of Kind Hearted Woman with a live audience during our online social screening Wednesday, April 17th at 11am PT / 2pm ET. Chat with advocates, survivors, and supporters to find ways to get involved in ending the crisis of violence against women and children. Join the screening at bit.ly/KindHearted.

Continue reading

Two ITVS Programs Win Peabody Awards

Summer Pasture and 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.

peabodyawards

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.

Women, War & Peace Goes Global

When Women, War & Peace debuted on PBS in Fall 2010 as the first pillar program of the Women and Girls Lead campaign, it took the country by storm. Screenings, house parties, workshops, and community discussions opened many American eyes to the atrocities that women and girls endure in areas of war, but also how essential women are to bringing about peace and forging new international laws governing conflict. In March, the series will continue to enlighten as one of 10 films featured online during the #SheDocs Online Film Festival

btb_wwp_global

Fork Films and THIRTEEN have partnered with Peace is Loud to create the screening kits for use around the world. The kits include the five films in the series (each an hour long) and a new discussion and resource guide featuring interviews with key figures from the series. The films and guide are available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Visit peaceisloud.org to read more and request kits.

Women’s mobilization in society is key to ending violence and establishing a culture of peace. You can host a screening series featuring Women, War & Peace and become a part of a global community of activists for peace and justice. Continue reading

Social TV Makes Big Progress in 2013

By Kelsey Savage, PBS Interactive 
Originally published on the PBS Station Products & Innovation Blog

Lounging around on your couch, clicker and blanket in tow, might not seem like the most overtly social activity. Yet, these days, even when we’re spending the evening parked in front of the television, we’re able to connect with our friends immediately about a show’s plot progression. In particular, Twitter has been leading the way for developing a strong social TV landscape.

In Nielsen’s annual “Station of The Media: The Social Media Report”, social TV demonstrated a growing user base. By June of 2012, over a third of Twitter users tweeted about a program on television, with the age 35-44 demographic being the most likely to comment on a TV show. In order to measure the power of social television, Nielsen will be working with Twitter to establish “a syndicate-standard metric around the reach of the TV conservation” by fall 2013. For the first time, broadcasters will be able to get an estimate of the number of people that participated or were exposed to an online conversation about their programming.

Public Media has also been capitalizing on the growth of social TV. Most notably, tech-savy, Downton Abbey lovers can check their Twitter feeds for instant feedback about the Dowager Countess’ latest sassy remark through the #DowntonPBS hashtag. PBS has also facilitated celebrity moderators, like Austenprose (@austenprose), The Daily Beast (@televisionary), Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) and Vulture (@vulture), to join the conversation. Their second-screen remarks add another dimension to the viewing experience. They make Downton feel like more than just TV show and more like a community. Continue reading