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.


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

Don’t Miss the Upcoming Diverse Muslim Voices Social Screenings

On January 30th and February 6th, Diverse Muslim Voices is hosting two online film screenings of Solar Mamas and We’re Watching You. Both documentaries examine the role women play in creating change in their communities.

The film titles and links to the screenings are listed below. On the day of the screening, click the link from your computer and join the virtual room! You’ll be able to watch the film while interacting with other viewers. You can join anonymously if you want so logins or passwords are not needed.

Our free OVEE platform is a new innovative way to watch films in a way that promotes interaction with audiences through simultaneous chat and other interactive features. For more information about OVEE click here. Continue reading

Online Symposium Examines and Asks: Why Poverty?

Women play a vital role in the economic prosperity of their families, communities, and countries. Yet in every part of the world, women work longer hours than men, are consistently paid less for their work, are at a higher risk of unemployment, and are far more likely to live in poverty. This central theme is the topic of a global online film symposium Wednesday, December 12 at 2pm ET / 19:00 UTC. To participate, visit

The online symposium will feature clips from Welcome to the WorldSolar Mamas, and other films from Why Poverty?, a global media event created to encourage people to talk about poverty around the world. Continue reading

Solar Mamas Inspires Audience Engagement

Solar Mamas is an inspiring and moving film about Rafea, a beautiful, strong-willed 32-year-old Jordanian mother of four, traveling outside of her village for the first time in order to attend Barefoot College’s solar engineering program. India’s Barefoot College, where rural, poor, and often illiterate women from around the world, offers them a rare opportunity to receive an education that teaches them how to make their communities self-reliant and sustainable.

Part of Why Poverty? and Women and Girls Lead, it premiered on Independent Lens and is currently screening nationwide as part of ITVS’s Community Cinema screening series. If you missed both of these chances to watch Solar Mamas, it’s not too late: it is streaming online at PBS Video.

If you are inspired to take action after watching the film, the Community Cinema website is featuring suggested actions you can take to help others like Rafea work towards a greener more prosperous world. Organizations such as SELF, SEED and My Hero Projects concentrate to help those living in poverty, supporting innovative small-scale, and locally driven entrepreneurship. Continue reading

Inspired by Solar Mamas, Women in Haiti Transform Lives

Siiri Morley & Elvire Eugene at AFASDA safe house

A Women and Girls Lead Spotlight
By Siiri Morley, Founding Partner, Prosperity Candle

This week’s broadcast of Solar Mamas inspired us to catch up with Women and Girls Lead partner Siiri Morley, founder of Prosperity Candle. Siiri recently traveled to Haiti to launch an economic development program to train women in candle making. Just like in Solar Mamas, we see how women are empowering themselves by taking a little training and bit of opportunity and completely transform their lives.

When I was planning my most recent trip to Haiti, I couldn’t have foreseen that Hurricane Sandy would force my early departure. Just hours before my plane evacuated, I was knee deep in the launch of Prosperity Catalyst’s Haiti initiative. Prosperity Catalyst is the nonprofit sister organization to Prosperity Candle , the social enterprise that empowers women to rebuild their lives through business and entrepreneurship.

Elvire Eugene, the Founder and Executive Director of AFASDA, is a tenacious woman with an extraordinary amount of energy and heart. She is simultaneously strong and warm and when she enters a room, the women she works with light up and are automatically drawn to her. With fire in her eyes, she talks about the critical importance of rescuing women and girls from violence in their communities. Continue reading

ITVS Documentaries at IDFA 2012

A record 17 ITVS documentaries will screen at IDFA 2012 (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), including 8 films from Why Poverty?

Check out the IDFA films below and join us in congratulating all the filmmakers!

Why Poverty? is a project from ITVS’s Global Perspectives Project in partnership with STEPS International 70 international broadcasters. The project has commissioned award-winning filmmakers to make eight documentaries, and new and emerging talents to make around 30 short films. The films tackle big issues and pose difficult questions, but they’re also moving, subtle and thought-provoking stories.

IDFA has declared Thursday, November 22nd Why Poverty? Day at the festival.

You can watch clips and shorts online now, and find out more about what’s happening at: Continue reading

Solar Mamas Makes Waves in Philadelphia

The screening of Solar Mamas held at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) on Saturday, November 3, was a huge success for the ITVS Community Cinema program. ITVS National Engagement Consultant Sara Zia Ebrahimi gave us this rundown of events as they unfolded in Philadelphia, PA. Solar Mamas premieres tonight (November 5) on Independent Lens 10 PM (check local listings).

Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) is one of a small handful of old renovated theaters in the Philadelphia area suburbs that has been revived in the past decade. Since 2002, it has been a pillar in the region’s independent film scene from screening indie films to offering film analysis classes to their “open screen” series, which allows local filmmakers to share new work on the big screen. For the past three years, Philadelphia Area Community Cinema has partnered with BMFI to bring quality independent documentaries to audiences with screenings including Between The FoldsThe Calling, and the most recent screening of Solar Mamas. Continue reading

The Making of Solar Mamas

Our team over at Independent Lens sat down with Mette Heide, producer of Solar Mamas, to talk about why she and her filmmaking team chose this story, and what inspired them along the way. The film is part of Why Poverty? and Women and Girls Lead, and premieres on Independent Lens on Monday, November 5 at 10 PM (check local listings).

What impact do you hope Solar Mamas will have?
We need engaging and entertaining stories that give us other views of the world. Documentaries can do that. They can penetrate into unknown areas and relate real-life drama in a nuanced way. This film has those qualities. The main character, Rafea, lives in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages. When she gets the offer of going to India to learn how to install solar panels she leaves her four children for the first time in her life. Rafea struggles to make a difference in the world. Her story is dramatic but also extremely inspiring to women worldwide because it’s about change and challenges.

Continue reading

Announcing the Seventh Season of Community Cinema

Drum roll, please…. ITVS is excited to announce the seventh season of Community Cinema, which offers free screenings for communities nationwide!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide kick starts the seventh season of Community Cinema

Join Community Cinema this season as they kick-off the screening series with Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Maro Chermayeff. This landmark documentary miniseries (based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn) follows six actress-advocates — America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde — as they travel to Africa and Asia and meet inspiring, courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions.

Community Cinema takes on diverse issues from current news headlines, such as As Goes Janesville, Brad Lichtenstein’s three-year chronicle about the debate over the future of America’s middle class, a debate that has become a pitched battle over unions in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin; Macky Alston’s Love Free or Die, a portrait of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom, whose 2003 elevation in the New Hampshire diocese ignited a worldwide firestorm in the Anglican Communion; and Soul Food Junkies, Byron Hurt’s personal look at the black community’s love affair with soul food, its significance, and its health consequences. Continue reading

Independent Lens Announces Fall 2012 Season

The Independent Lens fall lineup includes a special presentation of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Love Free or DieAs Goes Janesville, and Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream.

The 11th season of Independent Lens kicks off with Macky Alston’s documentary Love Free or Die.

With a new home on Monday nights, Independent Lens is ready to kick off its 11th season with a slate of award-winning documentaries that focus on various issues in America. Independent Lens senior series producer Lois Vossen told Real Screen: “All of the films are meant to really be conversations where people talk about the big issues: the war on drugs, rape in the U.S. military, the U.S. economy, the demise of the middle class, gay marriage. All topics that have people sort of polarized – and our goal is to try and bridge that divide… More than anything I would say that’s what ties this to an election year – this idea of what’s happening in contemporary America.”

Before the fall season officially launches, Independent Lens will present the primetime special Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. Continue reading