On the Road with Community Classroom

November was a busy month for Community Classroom, the ITVS program dedicated to creating educational film resources for use in high schools, colleges, and community settings. We took Community Classroom on the road to three annual educator conferences, including the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and reached thousands of America’s finest educators.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn delivers a keynote address about her book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

At the NCSS conference in Seattle, Sheryl WuDunn, author of the book that inspired the documentary film series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, gave a keynote speech to a crowd of more 700 social studies teachers. WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spoke of the work she and her husband, Nicholas Kristof (also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), have been engaged in to shed light on the oppression women and girls face worldwide–from Tiananmen Square twenty years ago to the innovative, media savvy Half the Sky Movement of today.

After watching clips from the documentary, the audience had a chance to engage a panel of educators, youth advocates, and teen activists in a discussion about how to teach issues related to gender oppression in their social studies classes. The event came just days after NCSS officially endorsed the curriculum that ITVS’s Community Classroom program created for the documentary. The endorsement is a significant milestone for ITVS, now part of an exclusive group to receive the stamp of approval from America’s largest association devoted solely to social studies education. Continue reading

Tweetback from Wham! Bam! Islam! via #ILDocClub

The 10th season of Independent Lens kicked off last night with filmmaker Isaac Solotaroff’s Wham! Bam! Islam! Fans tuned in to watch the journey of THE 99 creator Naif Al-Mutawa and shared their thoughts online, as part of Independent Lens’ new film club at #ILDocClub.

Be sure to join the conversation next time you’re watching Independent Lens on PBS. For now, scroll through some of the chatter from this week’s episode, below…



WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! Director & Star Discuss Film After SF Sneak Preview

Isaac Solotaroff and the inspiration for his film Wham! Bam! Islam!, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, were on hand for a special San Francisco sneak preview screening of the documentary last week.

The film screened before an audience of 130 at the Delancey Street Screening Room, where ITVS hosted a reception and post-screening discussion. Dr. Al-Mutawa explained his motivation for creating THE 99 comic book series based on the 99 attributes of Allah — “to provide Muslim children around the world with new superheroes.”

He also discussed his struggles to get distribution in the U.S. for an animated television series based on THE 99 due to pressure from a few press outlets.

Solotaroff, who lived in San Francisco for 10 years, acknowledged many of his filmmaking mentors in the audience and his experiences telling this story as a non-Muslim.

Watch unedited video from last week’s discussion:

First Up on IL: Wham! Bam! Islam!

The 10th season of Independent Lens kicks off this Thursday, October 13 at 10PM (check local listings) with Isaac Solotaroff’s documentary Wham! Bam! Islam!

The film follows Kuwaiti psychologist Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa as he battles to launch a comic series with 99 superheroes based on the 99 virtues of Allah.

Viewers should check out the filmmaker’s recent interview available on the Independent Lens blog.

Plus, check out the video, after the jump, from the subject and filmmaker of Wham! Bam! Islam!
Continue reading

Introducing the New Independent Lens Film Club (#ILDocClub)

This week, Independent Lens introduced its own documentary club on twitter #ILDocClub. The tag will be used to generate live chatter from around the country during the show’s national broadcast on PBS.

Here’s how it works: Wham Bam Islam! is premiering Thursday at 10pm on most PBS stations (check here to see when it is on in your area). While you watch, or after you’ve watched, fire up Twitter and start tweeting about the film using the hashtag #ILDocClub. (It helps to be following the show too: @IndependentLens).

Independent Lens staff will be there to ask and answer questions, along with Wham Bam Islam!’s director Isaac Solotaroff (@WhamBamIslam). Join the chat this Thursday for a great conversation about the film, comics, Islam in Western society and culture, and whatever else you’re interested in.

Sign up this week and get in the habit of not just watching acclaimed documentaries but discussing them with other indie lovers, filmmakers, and everyonne in between…

See you on Twitter!