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A Film Festival in Your Living Room

A Film Festival in Your Living Room

INDEPENDENT LENS

“The greatest showcase of independent film on TV today.” –The Kansas City Star
Independent Lens spans the country and circles the globe, showcasing wildly diverse documentaries about unforgettable people and places. Independent Lens programs come in every shape and size, including feature-length documentaries, hour-long dramas, fourminute comic shorts and half-hour experimental pieces. What binds these programs together is the spirit of the filmmakers themselves, visionaries who ignore the rules of commercial programming and spend years pursuing diverse stories about people not normally seen on TV. Some of these filmmakers have won the most prestigious industry awards. Others are being discovered before viewers’ eyes. All of them share the gift of storytelling, a compelling sense of purpose, and unrivalled access to often-closed communities and little-known worlds.

Airing weekly on PBS, the four-time Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens is like an independent film festival in your living room. Each episode introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent thinkers: filmmakers who are taking creative risks, calling their own shots, and finding untold stories in unexpected places. Past seasons of Independent Lens have been hosted by champions of independent film, including Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Edie Falco, Terrence Howard, Susan Sarandon, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Stay tuned to find out who will be your host for the next season!

RAZING APPALACHIA

In the misty folds of the Appalachian Mountains, RAZING APPALACHIA shows how the townspeople are fighting to save their homes.

RAZING APPALACHIA explores the controversial issue of mountaintop removal mining by following a grassroots fight to stop the process in West Virginia. Set in Pigeonroost Hollow, a valley in the town of Blair in the misty folds of the Appalachian Mountains, the film follows the journey of several families as they struggle to protect their land. Pigeonroost, with its narrow creek and crawdads, its wild ginseng and raccoons, looks as it might have a century ago — a woody haven tucked away from the march of time and technology. But for how long? And at what price? The fortunes and history of the people of West Virginia are virtually inseparable from coal mining. As long as anyone can remember, men have fought the mountains with pickax and shovel to dig out the shiny

black rock that powers the everexpanding energy demands of the United States. But those early miners never knew that one day, 20-story tall machines called draglines would bite into the earth and move a hundred tons of rock at a time. Mountaintops (called “overlays” by the coal mining industry) are literally sliced off and thrown down into valleys and streams below in an effort to get at the coal buried deep inside. In May 1998, Arch Coal, Inc. announced it would expand its Dal-Tex strip mine just above the small town of Blair. Rock and soil debris from a mountaintop mine stretching five square miles would bury Pigeonroost Hollow and Creek. But lifetime residents said too many in their community had already been bought out or chased away by the gigantic mine. In the face of thunderous

blasting and lung-choking dust caused by mountaintop mining, 40 families, where there were once 300, stayed in Blair. The film also digs into the history of coal in West Virginia, the only state that lies entirely in Appalachia. Archival photographs and films, and testimony from miners and families whose lands are being irreparably altered by strip mining, reveal the harsh history of a place where backbreaking work, poverty and isolation have taken their toll. An all-but-forgotten historic event, the Battle of Blair Mountain, is documented — the only time in history that the United States government dropped bombs on its own people, during the fight to unionize the coalmines in 1921.

TAKING ROOT

“I started planting trees and found myself in the forefront of fighting for the restoration of democracy in my country.” -Wangari Maathai

TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization encouraging rural women and families to plant trees in community groups, and follows Maathai, the movement’s founder and the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Prize. Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her they were walking long distances for firewood, and that clean water was scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields and their children were suffering from malnutrition. “Well, why not plant trees?” she suggested.

Maathai soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. In the mid-1980s, Kenya was under the repressive regime of Daniel arap Moi, whose dictatorship outlawed group gatherings and the right of association. In tending their nurseries, women had a legitimate reason to gather outside their homes and discuss the roots of their problems. They soon found themselves working against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests and government corruption; they became a national political force that helped to bring down the country’s 24year dictatorship.

Using archival footage and first-person accounts, the film documents dramatic political confrontations of 1980s and 1990s Kenya and captures Maathai’s infectious determination and unwavering courage through in-depth conversations with the film’s subjects. TAKING ROOT captures a world view in which nothing is perceived as impossible. The film also presents an awe-inspiring profile of one woman’s three-decade journey of courage to protect the environment, ensure gender equality, defend human rights and promote democracy—all sprouting from the achievable act of planting trees.

GARBAGE DREAMS

“Expertly weaving fear, family and politics, GARBAGE DREAMS records the tremblings of a culture at a crossroads.” —New York Times

On the outskirts of Cairo lies the world’s largest garbage village. A labyrinth of narrow roadways camouflaged by trash, the village is home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Arabic for “garbage people.” The Zaballeen have survived for centuries by recycling Cairo’s waste. Members of Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community, these entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle nearly all the trash they collect, maintaining what could be the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. Filmed over four years, GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys born into the Zaballeen’s trash trade: 17-year-old Adham, 16-year-old Osama, and 18-year-old Nabil. Laila, a community activist who also teaches the boys at their neighborhood Recycling School, guides

the boys as they transition into adulthood at a time when the Zaballeen community is at a crossroads. With a population of 18 million, Cairo — the largest city in the Middle East and Africa — has no sanitation service. For generations, the city’s residents have paid the Zaballeen a minimal amount to collect a here plastic granulators, cloth-grinders, and paper and cardboard compactors hum constantly. As the world’s capacity to generate trash skyrockets, Western cities boast of 30 percent recycling rates — admirable, until you compare it with the 80 per- cent recycling rate the Zaballeen can claim. In 2003, following the international trend to privatize services, Cairo sold multimillion dollar contracts to three corporations

to pick up the city’s garbage. Shimmering waste trucks now line the streets, but these multinational waste disposal corporations are only contractually obligated to recycle 20 percent of what they collect, leaving the rest to rot in giant landfills. As these foreign companies came in with waste trucks and begin carting garbage to nearby landfills, the Zaballeen watched their way of life disappearing. Suddenly faced with the globalization of their trade, Adham and Osama are each forced to make choices that will impact their futures and the survival of the Zaballeen community. Activist Laila sighs with despair: “They don’t see that we are poor people living off of trash. What are we suppose to do now?”

DIRT! THE MOVIE

Urban development has endangered the soil and caused drought, floods, and climate change. How can humans reconnect to the Earth?

Floods, drought, climate change, and even war are all directly related to the fate of humble dirt. Made from the same elements as stars, plants, and human beings, dirt is very much alive. One teaspoon of dirt contains a billion organisms working in balance to sustain a series of complex, thriving communities that are invisibly a part of our daily lives. DIRT! The Movie tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility — from its miraculous beginning to its tragic degradation. This insightful and timely film tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet. Narrated by Jaimie Lee Curtis and inspired by William Bryant Logan’s ac-

claimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, DIRT! The Movie introduces viewers to dirt’s fascinating history. Four billion years of evolution have created the dirt that recycles our water, gives us food, and provides us with shelter. But humanity has endangered this vital living resource with destructive methods of agriculture, mining practices, and urban development, with catastrophic results: mass starvation, drought, and global warming.

ing the tree planting work of renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado. From farmers rediscovering sustainable agriculture and scientists discovering connections with soil to inmates learning job skills in a prison horticulture program and children eating from edible schoolyards, DIRT! The Movie brings to life the environmental, economic, social, and political importance of soil and suggests ways we can create new possibilities for all life on Earth.

The filmmakers travel around the world to capture the stories of global visionaries who are discovering new ways to re- pair humanity’s relationship with soil, checking in with Dr. Vandana Shiva to discuss her fight to prevent world hunger by preserving biodiversity in India, and document-

“Entertaining as hell and better than any other documentary series around.” –Electronic Media/Television Week
Independent Lens
by Jon Else - Best Documentary (2009)

THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

EMMY NOMINATIONS
BLESSED IS THE MATCH CRIPS AND BLOODS
by Roberta Grossman Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (2010) by Stacy Peralta Best Documentary (2010)

by Sam Green and Bill Siegel - Best Documentary (2004)

WHY CAN’T WE BE A FAMILY AGAIN

by Roger Weisberg and Murray Nossel - Best Documentary Short (2002)

NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY TULIA, TEXAS

NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL
GARBAGE DREAMS
by Mai Iskander – Al Gore Reel Current Award (2009)

by James Chressanthis Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming (2010) by Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story (2010)

INT’L EMMY AWARDS
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME
by Weijun Chen

CHICAGO 10

IDA AWARDS
THE NEW AMERICANS IMELDA
by Kartemquin Films – Limited Series Award (2003) by Ramona Diaz – IDA/ABC News Video Source Award (2003)

by Brett Morgen Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic Design and Art Direction (2009)

GEORGE FOSTER PEABODY AWARD
BETWEEN THE FOLDS by Vanessa Gould (2010) THE ORDER OF MYTHS by Margaret Brown (2010) KING CORN
by Aaron Woolf, Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney (2009)

EMMY AWARDS
BILLY STRAYHORN
by Robert Levi - Best Documentary (2008)

HARD ROAD HOME

by Macky Alston Outstanding Informational Programming (2009)

SENTENCED HOME

A LION IN THE HOUSE A LION’S TRAIL

MAPPING STEM CELL RESEARCH
by Maria Finitzo (2009)

by Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar - Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking (2007) by Francois Verster, Mark J. Kaplan and Dan Jawitz - Outstanding Cultural and Artistic Programming (2006)

by David Grabias and Nicole Newnham Outstanding Informational Programming (2008)

CINE GOLDEN EAGLE AWARD
BE GOOD, SMILE PRETTY
by Tracy Droz Tragos (2004)

A TOUCH OF GREATNESS AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED THE DAY MY GOD DIED

SISTERS IN LAW

by Leslie Sullivan and Catherine Gund - Best Documentary (2006) by AINA Productions and Brigitte Brault - Best Documentary (2005) by Andrew Levine - Best Documentary (2005)

by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi (2008)

BILLY STRAYHORN: LUSH LIFE
by Robert Levi (2008)

BE GOOD, SMILE PRETTY SING FASTER

GOOD JOB!

STILL LIFE WITH ANIMATED DOGS
by Paul Fierlinger (2001)

by Tracy Droz Tragos - Best Documentary (2004)

Independent Lens

TELEVISION SERIES CREDITS
executive producer SALLY JO FIFER series producer & curator LOIS VOSSEN curator CLAIRE AGUILAR executive vice president & cfo JUDY TAM senior vice president of content management JIM SOMMERS director of series production CHRIS TURNER coordinating producer MARIANNE YU production coordinator ARCHER NEILSON

production assistant KRIS MOTSWANA director of communications DENNIS PALMEIRI director of digital initiatives MATT MESCHERY associate director of broadcast & distribution SREEDI SRIPATHY associate director of communications DUOUNG-CHI DO publicity manager VIOLA AMILCAR publicity ERICA MINEHAN MARY LUGO CARA WHITE interactive WENDY BARDSLEY

CREDITS

BROOKE SHELBY CATHY FISCHER JEN KAZER SHANNON PALMER IMAD SELHOUN marketing PHIL ZIMMERMAN broadcast & distribution manager GALIA FARBER national community engagement & education manager ANNE WUNDERLICH administrative aoordinators AIDEN HUMRICH design project manager ZINNA RILEY host introductions writers ERIC MARTIN LOIS VOSSEN

WEB SERIES CREDITS
Series Web Site by ITVS Interactive www.itvs.org senior content producer CATHY FISCHER senior producer JEN KACZOR managing editor BROOKE SHELBY achitect and developer WENDEY BARDSLEY designer SHANNON PALMER marketing coordinator IMAD SELHOUN Special thanks to PBS Interactive Learning and the INDEPENDENT LENS filmmakers who contributed to companion Web sites.

© 2010 Independent Television Service (ITVS)

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