“Neuland”, Monday, Aug. 17 on POV

A Poignant Look at Young Immigrants Trying to Make A New Life In Switzerland

Meet the young students in Christian Zingg‘s integration class, who came to Switzerland by planes, trains and automobiles — and even by rubber boats. Separated from their families and in many cases traumatized by events in their home countries, these migrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Serbia and Venezuela already have long and arduous journeys behind them. Anne Thommen‘s Neuland (“New Territory”) follows the adolescents over two years as they struggle to learn a new language, prepare themselves for employment and reveal their innermost hopes and dreams. But as the end of school draws near, each student must face the same difficult question: Is there a place for me in this country?

School trip of the integration school. Photo Credit -  Gabriela Betschart

School trip of the integration school. ( Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

Neuland follows Mr. Zingg’s adolescent charges as they struggle to learn a new language, prepare for employment and reveal their innermost hopes and dreams. But as the end of school draws near, each student must face the same difficult question: Is there a place for me in this country?

Basel, 2010. On the first day of his integration class, Mr. Zingg introduces himself to a disparate group of young people who have made their way to Switzerland from around the world. He has two years to help these fledglings learn to survive and forge new lives. Part teacher, part life coach, part surrogate father, he gets to know each one, building trust within the group and with each student, and helping them navigate bureaucratic hurdles, family troubles and the difficulties of being a stranger in a strange land.

Ehsanullah Habibi

Ehsanullah Habibi ( Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

Hamidullah Hashimi and Ehsanullah Habibi at school.

Hamidullah Hashimi and Ehsanullah Habibi at school. ( Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

They’re all escaping something — war, family problems, poverty. There is Ehsanullah Habibi, who has finally made it from Afghanistan to Switzerland after traveling for a year on borrowed money — a staggering $20,000. His anxious family waits back home for him to send the loan payments — or the lender will take their property. He calls his parents regularly on a pay phone. “It doesn’t look good in Afghanistan,” his father says. “Make a life for yourself.” “Pray for me,” Ehsanullah asks his dad.

Suffering from anxiety and homesickness, Ehsanullah begins to harm himself, and makes no attempt to hide the bandages on his arms. “We know how helpless we are with this,” a teacher tells Mr. Zingg, “but if that’s a message, a cry for help, then we must speak to him.

Nazlijie at work in a retirement home (Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

Nazlijie Aliji at work in a retirement home (Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

Brother and sister Ismail and Nazlije Aliji left their home country of Serbia after their mother died. Smart, eager and dedicated, Nazlije longs to be a primary school teacher, but she realizes her dream may be out of reach when she hears how many years of education that would require. “You’re talented; you can do it,” her friends at home tell her on Skype in a poignant moment. Mr. Zingg is more realistic when he meets with Nazlije and her uncle. “At the moment, that’s not the path for you,” he gently explains.

Ehsanullah wants to be a house painter, but is stunned to learn he must first pass a test in mathematics. “Take a deep breath,” Mr. Zingg smiles. “I’m 100 percent sure you can do that. . . . But in Switzerland every job has a theoretical, or school part. And that’s the part which will not be easy for you.

In preparation for “Taster Week,” when students seek apprenticeships, they practice applying for jobs by role-playing with Mr. Zingg. After multiple rejections from potential employers, Nazlije is finally accepted for a trial position as an aide at a geriatric residence; Ismail is hired in construction; and Ehsanullah lands a job in a food processing plant. But Ehsanullah’s biggest concern remains paying off the loan, the balance of which is due in less than six months. When Taster Week is over, he quits school and takes a job in a restaurant. Three weeks later, he’s back, but Mr. Zingg will only accept him if he signs a pledge that he will attend 100 percent of the remaining school days and work only on the weekends.

Christian Zingg, teacher of the integration class

Christian Zingg, teacher of the integration class ( Photo Credit: Gabriela Betschart)

In June, the students graduate, and with a bittersweet mixture of hugs and tears they express their gratitude to Mr. Zingg. He asks them all to come back and visit, expressing confidence that they are now on solid footing.

I got to know Mr. Zingg three years ago during a media-education film project with his class,” said filmmaker Thommen. “I was impressed by the trust the pupils placed in their teacher. When Mr. Zingg told me some of the unbelievable stories about the fates of his pupils, I knew I wanted to make a film about this. We decided to accompany him and his next class over the two years from the beginning through the end of their schooling.”

When we started filming, I was initially just curious about all of the young people who gathered in the schoolyard during breaks and the stories they had to tell. In retrospect, I admit that I had my ideas and prejudices about the various nationalities of the young people. But the longer the filming lasted, the less I was able to think in stereotypes and the more complex the individual stories and destinies became. What followed was the admission of my prejudices, and I started to see just the people, with all their contradictions and far from their homes. I genuinely hope that it will touch the viewers and sensitize them to the fates of these young migrants and others like them who are stranded on our shores every day.

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Extraordinary People Seek New Beginnings in the 2015 season of PBS’s POV

Down But Not Out: Extraordinary People Seek New Beginnings In the 28th Season of POV, Beginning Monday, June 22, 2015 on PBS

Documentaries Spotlight Passionate Individuals Who Transform Themselves And Their Communities

Vince Lombardi famously said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” The 15 compelling films in the new season of PBS’s award-winning documentary series POV (Point of View) introduce extraordinarily strong and determined individuals. Subjects including an artist jailed for speaking freely and members of the Syrian resistance willing to lose their lives exhibit incredible resilience when, time and again, they fight to get back on their feet.

The 28th season of POV begins on Monday, June 22, 2015 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS and continues through the fall. POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary showcase and the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit: American Documentary, Inc.

This summer, POV films take viewers into the lives of characters on the front lines of current events. The season launches with Out in the Night, a powerful documentary about four African-American lesbians who stand their ground as they face law enforcement, the criminal justice system and media bias after being accused of gang assault. The Tribeca award-winner Point and Shoot tracks a young man from Baltimore as he drops into the middle of the Libyan Revolution, while the Sundance award-winning Return to Homs witnesses the transformation of peaceful Syrian protesters into armed insurgents. In Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, the Chinese government’s attempt to silence the titular artist only serves to give him a stronger voice.

Closer to home, The Overnighters reveals the toll taken on a small town at the center of a modern-day gold rush, where thousands of workers seek a fresh start in the North Dakota oil fields. The theme of new beginnings continues in Tough Love, where persistent parents navigate the legal system and Child Protective Services, battling to regain custody of their children.

This year’s films feature strong individuals viewers won’t easily forget,” said POV Executive Producer Chris White. “Intimate and urgent, these are the stories of our times. We are proud to present a slate of films that challenge, enlighten and inspire.

Three special presentations slated for the fall explore how art shapes identity, and will be paired with other arts-related PBS programs. In the Oscar®-nominated Cutie and the Boxer, two visual artists depict themselves, each other and their embattled 40-year marriage in their work, and in Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, the Chinese government’s attempt to silence the titular artist only serves to give him a stronger voice. In Art and Craft, an art forger is so expert that he blurs the line between original and copy–and perhaps between himself and the masters whose work he reproduces.

“This year’s films feature strong individuals viewers won’t easily forget,” said POV Executive Producer Chris White. “Intimate and urgent, these are the stories of our times. We are proud to present a slate of films that challenge, enlighten and inspire.”

POV 2015 Schedule (All programs air Mondays at 10 p.m. unless otherwise indicated; check local listings):

June 22: Out in the Night by blair dorosh-walther

In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of “Killer Lesbians” and a “Wolf Pack.” Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four–Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain–maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).

June 29: The Overnighters by Jesse Moss

Chasing the American dream, thousands of workers flock to a North Dakota town where the oil business is booming. But instead of well-paying jobs, many find slim work prospects and a severe housing shortage. Pastor Jay Reinke converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, allowing hundreds of men, some with checkered pasts, to stay despite the congregation’s objections and neighbors’ fears. When opposition to the “overnighters” reaches a boiling point, Pastor Jay makes a decision with shattering consequences. A modern-day Grapes of Wrath, The Overnighters tells an electrifying story about the promise of redemption and the limits of compassion. Winner, Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking: Documentary, 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

July 6: Tough Love by Stephanie Wang-Breal

What makes a good parent? How do you prove you are responsible after you’ve been deemed unfit? Having lost custody of their children to Child Protective Services, two parents–one in New York City and one in Seattle–fight to win back the trust of the courts and reunite their families in Stephanie Wang-Breal‘s moving film. Acknowledging their past parenting mistakes due to poverty, poor choices and addiction, both Hannah and Patrick contend with a complex bureaucracy to prove they deserve a second chance. A co-production of ITVS.A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

July 13: Web Junkie by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia

Internet addiction has been declared a national health crisis in China, the first country in the world to classify this evolving diagnosis. Web Junkie follows the treatment of three Chinese teenagers, obsessive gamers whose preference for the virtual world over the real one is summed up in one jarring statement: “Reality is too fake.” Israeli filmmakers Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia gained extraordinary access to a three-month military-style rehab program in Beijing, illuminating a process that, while stern, may help set a standard as the wider world comes to grips with the devastating consequences of excessive Internet use. Official Selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

July 20: Return to Homs by Talal Derki

War changes people, including 19-year-old Basset Saroot, who went from star goalkeeper for the Syrian national soccer team to peaceful advocate for Arab Spring reforms to armed insurgent. Return to Homs, which focuses on Basset and his ragtag group’s transformation and struggles, is a heart-stopping, often wrenching study of the brutal war President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has waged against the Syrian people–a war fought mostly out of camera range that has produced epic heroism and tragedy. Winner of Sundance’s 2014 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, this is an unprecedented view inside a conflict that many accuse the world of overlooking. Winner of the first George Polk Documentary Film Award.

July 27: Tea Time by Maite Alberdi

Ritual is often associated with powerful and impersonal institutions, but for five Chilean women, ritual centers on a monthly gathering that has sustained them through 60 years of personal and societal change. Tea Time is a charming and poignant look at how a seemingly mundane routine of tea and pastries has helped the well-heeled participants commemorate life’s joys and cope with infidelity, illness and death. A celebration of the small things that help us endure, Tea Time, filmed over five years, illuminates a beautiful paradox: As familiar worlds slip away, friendships grow ever stronger and more profound. A co-production of ITVS International. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting.Official Selection of the 2014 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

Aug. 3: Beats of the Antonov by hajooj kuka

Sudan has been in an almost constant state of civil war since it achieved independence in 1956, and it split into a pair of sovereign states in 2011. On the border between the two, Russian-made Antonov planes indiscriminately drop bombs on settlements in the Nuba Mountains below. Yet, incredibly, the people of the Blue Nile respond to adversity with music, singing and dancing to celebrate their survival. Beats of the Antonov explores how music binds a community together, offering hope and a common identity for refugees engaged in a fierce battle to protect cultural traditions and heritage from those trying to obliterate them. Winner, Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award, 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Aug. 10: Encore Presentation — When I Walk by Jason DaSilva

Jason DaSilva was 25 and a rising filmmaker when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and inspired to film this forthright–and surprisingly uplifting–look at his new life. He searches for a cure, yet a different miracle comes his way. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with CAAM. Continue reading

Art and Life Intersect in New Season of POV, Beginning Monday, June 23, 2014 on PBS

 

Watch Films from POV Alumni at Tribeca and Full Frame this April

povlogo_2

This season on PBS’s award-winning POV (Point of View) documentary series, art becomes a major player that imitates, intimidates, heals and transforms the lives of individuals and communities.

The 27th season of POV begins on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS and continues weekly through Sept. 22. The season, featuring 13 new independent nonfiction films and an encore broadcast, concludes with a special presentation in fall 2014.

In When I Walk, a young up-and-coming filmmaker discovers he has multiple sclerosis. To cope, he decides to use the art of filmmaking to look at his new reality. In the Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing, a group of unrepentant Indonesian mass murderers re-enact their crimes in a surreal performance that mimics the Hollywood movies they grew up with — and shocks a nation. And inThe Genius of Marian, a mother’s watercolors help a daughter suffering with Alzheimer’s grasp family memories.

The art of politics is also on display — in Koch, a history of the life and times of New York City’s former mayor Ed Koch that is as rollicking and unconventional as the man himself, in American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, about a fiery activist who urges today’s movers and shakers to think in entirely new ways, and in Getting Back to Abnormal, in which a New Orleans politician prone to putting her foot in her mouth gets an education in street smarts and the city’s wildly divergent cultures.

POV recently announced a collaboration with The New York Times to premiere new documentaries on the organizations’ websites. The first film, The Men of Atalissa by Dan Barry and Kassie Bracken, produced by The New York Times, can be seen on www.pbs.org/pov and www.nytimes.com. In addition, POV will renew its media partnership with New York flagship public radio station WNYC.

“Documentaries no longer exist on the cultural margins; they have become an essential tool in how we explore and experience the world,” said POV Executive Producer Simon Kilmurry. “The work produced by these filmmakers is remarkable and important, engaging, daring and entertaining. And, it’s exciting to see how audiences celebrate and embrace these stories.”

“POV programs take you on a journey, whether traveling alongside a politician, a person grappling with a debilitating illness or an individual in love for the first time,” said POV Co-Executive Producer Cynthia López. “As always, POV films deliver a emotional punch with superbly crafted storytelling. This season promises to be a powerful rollercoaster ride.”

POV 2014 Schedule (All programs air Mondays at 10 p.m. unless otherwise indicated; check local listings):

June 23: When I Walk by Jason DaSilva

Jason DaSilva was 25 years old and a rising independent filmmaker when a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis changed everything — and inspired him to make another film. When I Walk is a candid and brave chronicle of one young man’s struggle to adapt to the harsh realities of M.S. while holding on to his personal and creative life. With his body growing weaker, DaSilva’s spirits, and his film, get a boost from his mother’s tough love and the support of Alice Cook, who becomes his wife and filmmaking partner. The result is a life-affirming documentary filled with unexpected moments of joy and humor. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.

June 30: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs by Grace Lee

Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. Winner, Audience Award, 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival.

July 7: My Way to Olympia by Niko von Glasow

Who better to cover the Paralympics, the international sporting event for athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, than Niko von Glasow, the world’s best-known disabled filmmaker? Unfortunately — or fortunately for anyone seeking an insightful and funny documentary — this filmmaker frankly hates sports and thinks the games are “a stupid idea.” Born with severely shortened arms, von Glasow serves as an endearing guide to London’s Paralympics competition in My Way to Olympia. As he meets a one-handed Norwegian table tennis player, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team, an American archer without arms and a Greek paraplegic boccia player, his own stereotypes about disability and sports get delightfully punctured. Official Selection of the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.

July 14: Getting Back to Abnormal by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler

What happens when America’s most joyous, dysfunctional city rebuilds itself after a disaster? New Orleans is the setting for Getting Back to Abnormal, a film that serves up a provocative mix of race, corruption and politics to tell the story of the re-election campaign of Stacy Head, a white woman in a city council seat traditionally held by a black representative. Supported by her irrepressible African-American aide Barbara Lacen-Keller, Head polarizes the city as her candidacy threatens to diminish the power and influence of its black citizens. Featuring a cast of characters as colorful as the city itself, the film presents a New Orleans that outsiders rarely see. Official Selection of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.

July 21: Dance for Me by Katrine Philp

Professional ballroom dancing is very big in little Denmark. Since success in this intensely competitive art depends on finding the right partner, aspiring Danish dancers often look beyond their borders to find their matches. In Dance for Me, 15-year-old Russian performer Egor leaves home and family to team up with 14-year-old Mie, one of Denmark’s most promising young dancers. Strikingly different, Egor and Mie bond over their passion for Latin dance — and for winning. As they head to the championships, so much is at stake: emotional bonds, career and the future. Dance for Me is a poetic coming-of-age story, with a global twist and thrilling dance moves.

Airing with Dance for Me is the StoryCorps animated short Bryan and Mike Wilmoth by The Rauch Brothers. Bryan Wilmoth and his seven younger siblings were raised in a strict, religious home. He talks to his brother Mike about what it was like to reconnect years after their dad kicked Bryan out for being gay. Major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

July 28: Fallen City by Zhao Qi

In today’s go-go China, an old city completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake can be rebuilt — boasting new and improved civic amenities — in an astoundingly quick two years. But, as Fallen City reveals, the journey from the ruined old city of Beichuan to the new Beichuan nearby is long and heartbreaking for the survivors. Three families struggle with loss — most strikingly the loss of children and grandchildren — and feelings of loneliness, fear and dislocation that no amount of propaganda can disguise. First-time director Zhao Qi offers an intimate look at a country torn between tradition and modernity. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS International.

Aug. 4: 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story by Nadine Pequeneza

Does sentencing a teenager to life without parole serve our society well? The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison. This is the story of one of those children, now a young man, seeking a second chance in Florida. At age 15, Kenneth Young received four consecutive life sentences for a series of armed robberies. Imprisoned for more than a decade, he believed he would die behind bars. Now a U.S. Supreme Court decision could set him free. 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story follows Young’s struggle for redemption, revealing a justice system with thousands of young people serving sentences intended for society’s most dangerous criminals.

Aug. 11: Encore presentation: Neurotypical by Adam Larsen

Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the “neurotypical” world — the world of the non-autistic — revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.

Aug. 18: A World Not Ours by Mahdi Fleifel

A World Not Ours is a passionate, bittersweet account of one family’s multi-generational experience living as permanent refugees. Now a Danish resident, director Mahdi Fleifel grew up in the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, established in 1948 as a temporary refuge for exiled Palestinians. Today, the camp houses 70,000 people and is the hometown of generations of Palestinians. The filmmaker’s childhood memories are surprisingly warm and humorous, a testament to the resilience of the community. Yet his yearly visits reveal the increasing desperation of family and friends who remain trapped in psychological as well as political limbo. Official Selection of the 2013 Berlin Film Festival.

Aug. 25: Big Men by Rachel Boynton

Over five years, director Rachel Boynton and her cinematographer film the quest for oil in Ghana by Dallas-based Kosmos. The company develops the country’s first commercial oil field, yet its success is quickly compromised by political intrigue and accusations of corruption. As Ghanaians wait to reap the benefits of oil, the filmmakers discover violent resistance down the coast in the Niger Delta, where poor Nigerians have yet to prosper from decades-old oil fields. Big Men, executive produced by Brad Pitt, provides an unprecedented inside look at the global deal making and dark underside of energy development — a contest for money and power that is reshaping the world. Official Selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

Sept. 1: After Tiller by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

After Tiller is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas — and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions,After Tiller presents the complexities of these women’s difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Sept. 8: The Genius of Marian by Banker White and Anna Fitch

The Genius of Marian is a visually rich, emotionally complex story about one family’s struggle to come to terms with Alzheimer’s disease. After Pam White is diagnosed at age 61 with early-onset Alzheimer’s, life begins to change, slowly but irrevocably, for Pam and everyone around her. Her husband grapples with his role as it evolves from primary partner to primary caregiver. Pam’s adult children find ways to show their love and support while mourning the gradual loss of their mother. Her eldest son, Banker, records their conversations, allowing Pam to share memories of childhood and of her mother, the renowned painter Marian Williams Steele, who had Alzheimer’s herself and died in 2001.

POV is preempted on Sept. 15 and returns the following week.

Sept. 22: Koch by Neil Barsky

New York City mayors have a world stage on which to strut, and they have made legendary use of it. Yet few have matched the bravado, combativeness and egocentricity that Ed Koch brought to the office during his three terms from 1978 to 1989. As Neil Barsky’s Koch recounts, Koch was more than the blunt, funny man New Yorkers either loved or hated. Elected in the 1970s during the city’s fiscal crisis, he was a new Democrat for the dawning Reagan era — fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Koch finds the former mayor politically active to the end (he died in 2013) — still winning the affection of many New Yorkers while driving others to distraction.

In fall 2014 POV presents a special broadcast (date and time to be announced):

Fall 2014: The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer

Nominated for an Academy Award®, The Act of Killing is as dreamlike and terrifying as anything that Werner Herzog (one of the executive producers) could imagine. This film explores a horrifying era in Indonesian history and provides a window into modern Indonesia, where corruption reigns. Not only is the 1965 murder of an estimated one million people honored as a patriotic act, but the killers remain in power. In a mind-bending twist, death-squad leaders dramatize their brutal deeds in the style of the American westerns, musicals and gangster movies they love — and play both themselves and their victims. As their heroic facade crumbles, they come to question what they’ve done. Winner, 2014 BAFTA Film Award, Best Documentary.

POV 2014 At-a-Glance (All programs air Mondays at 10 p.m.; check local listings.)

June 23 When I Walk

June 30 American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

July 7 My Way to Olympia

July 14 Getting Back to Abnormal

July 21 Dance for Me

July 28 Fallen City

Aug. 4 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story

Aug. 11 Neurotypical (Encore)

Aug. 18 A World Not Ours

Aug. 25 Big Men

Sept. 1 After Tiller

Sept. 8 The Genius of Marian

Sept. 22 Koch

Fall 2014 (Date/time TBA) The Act of Killing

Great new films from POV alumni will screen in the coming weeks at the Tribeca Film Festival and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Filmmakers include Marshall Curry – Racing Dreams (POV 2012), If a Tree Falls (POV 2011), Street Fight (POV 2005); Jesse Moss – Speedo: A Demolition Derby Love Story (POV 2004); Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly – The Way We Get By (POV 2009); and Stephanie Wang-Breal – Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (POV 2010).

Point and Shoot by Marshall Curry
At first glance, Matthew VanDyke—a shy, Baltimore native with a sheltered upbringing and a tormenting OCD diagnosis—is the last person you’d imagine on the front lines of the 2011 Libyan revolution. But, after Matthew graduated college and escaped the U.S. for ‘a crash course in manhood,’ a winding path leads him just there. Motorcycling across North Africa and the Middle East spending time as an embedded journalist in Iraq, Matthew lands in Libya forming an unexpected kinship with a group of young men who transform his life. Matthew joins his friends in the rebel army against Gaddafi, taking up arms (and a camera); along the way, he is captured and held in solitary confinement for six terrifying months. Academy Award®-nominated director Marshall Curry brilliantly captures Matthew’s remarkable story. (Description from Tribeca Film Festival)
Tribeca Film Festival – New York, NY – April 19, 21, 23, 24

The Overnighters by Jesse Moss
After hydraulic fracturing uncovers a rich oil field in North Dakota, a small conservative town is tested as hordes of unemployed men chasing the “American Dream” pour into its borders. Desperate men, often running from their past, find compassion and refuge in the form of a local pastor. Providing his church and even his own home as shelter to the visitors, he exposes himself, and by extension the town, to unfamiliar pressures that test the true limits of the commandment “Love Thy Neighbor.” The more responsibility he shoulders, the more everything threatens to come crumbling down. With unfettered access to the citizens of Williston, documentarian Jesse Moss crafts a smoldering film about dualities in this provocative modern-day parable that challenges the very fabric of our society. (Description from Tribeca Film Festival)
Tribeca Film Festival – New York, NY – April 22, 23

Beneath the Harvest Sky by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly
Stand By Me for the next generation of boys becoming men, writer-directors Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly’s Beneath the Harvest Sky shares the intimate journey—both metaphorical and literal—of two Maine teenagers. Frustrated and restless, best friends Dominic and Casper are making plans to escape their small town to start new lives in Boston. In order to get the money, Dominic spends the summer harvesting potatoes while Casper becomes involved in the family business—smuggling drugs over the Canadian border. The divergent paths of the two boys, both trapped in different ways, will change their friendship forever. An authentic portrayal of adolescent frustration, with stellar performances from Emory Cohen and Callan McAuliffe, culminates in a heartbreaking coming-of-age drama not to be missed. (Description from Tribeca Film Festival)
Tribeca Film Festival – New York, NY – April 18, 24, 26, 27

Tough Love by Stephanie Wang-Breal
Both Hannah, in New York City, and Patrick, in Seattle, have lost custody of their children. After Hannah was reported for neglect, her two kids were removed from her home by the Administration for Children’s Services and placed with their paternal grandmother. Patrick lost his daughter to a foster family after a struggle with substance abuse. Both parents love their children deeply and are desperate to get them back. Tough Love takes us through the challenges and victories of Patrick and Hannah’s attempts to be reunited with their kids by proving to the child welfare system that they have learned from their mistakes and deserve a second chance. Through vérité footage, intimate access to sessions at family treatment court, and interviews with foster parents and case workers, we came to undestand the tangle of bureaucracy and economic realities that make it so difficult for parents—however reformed and determined—to get their kids back home. (Description from Full Frame Documentary Film Festival)
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival – Durham, NC – April 5

Art and Craft by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman
Mark Landis is perhaps the most prolific art forger the U.S. has ever seen. He’s duped curators throughout the nation with precise imitations from Matisse to Picasso, curiously never asking for money, but instead donating his counterfeits free of charge. After 30 years of conning the art industry, Landis is first discovered by Matthew Leininger, a registrar from Cincinnati, who has since dedicated years to tracking the man who hoodwinked him, in search of answers. But Landis’ motivations are far more layered than simple deception. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, there’s a question if he even knows that he is being deceptive at all. Through a richly complex lens, Art and Craft delicately balances a portrait of an outsider living with mental illness and the universal desire to be a part of a community. (Description from Tribeca Film Festival)
Tribeca Film Festival — New York, NY — April 17, 19, 23, 26

WNYC WNYC is the most listened-to public radio station in the United States, reaching more than one million New York City-area terrestrial radio listeners a week, and almost 2 million online listeners each month. WNYC produces award-winning local programs including The Brian Lehrer Show andThe Leonard Lopate Show, and nationally distributed shows including Radiolab, On the Media and Freakonomics Radio. WNYC also provides New Yorkers with the best programming from NPR, Public Radio International, American Public Media and the BBC. For more information, visit www.wnyc.org.

POV Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and beginning its 27th season on PBS in 2014, POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. Its films have won 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 12 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit www.pbs.org/pov.

POV Community Engagement and Education (www.pbs.org/pov/outreach) POV’s Community Engagement and Education team works with educators, community organizations and PBS stations to present more than 650 free screenings every year. In addition, we distribute free discussion guides and standards-aligned lesson plans for each of our films. With our community partners, we inspire dialogue around the most important social issues of our time.

POV Digital (www.pbs.org/pov/) Since 1994, POV Digital has driven new storytelling initiatives and interactive production for POV. The department created PBS’s first program website and its first web-based documentary (POV’s Borders) and has won major awards, including a Webby Award (and six nominations) and an Online News Association Award. POV Digital continues to explore the future of independent nonfiction media through its digital productions and the POV Hackathon lab, where media makers and technologists collaborate to reinvent storytelling forms. @POVdocs on Twitter.

American Documentary, Inc. (www.amdoc.org/) American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Wyncote Foundation, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, The Educational Foundation of America and public television viewers. Special support provided by The Fledgling Fund. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

POV and The New York Times Join Forces to Present Documentaries Online

Previous collaborations by the two organizations include The Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg and The Times, a special New York Times Community Affairs/POV forum held in 2011. A panel moderated by New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson was the first public forum with Dr. Ellsberg and The Times since the Pentagon Papers were published in 1971. The event became part of POV’s broadcast of the Oscar®-nominated film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers and it was streamed online. Other major Times screenings have featured the POV documentaries ReporteroThe Light in Her Eyes and If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

PBS’s award-winning independent documentary series POV (Point of View) and The New York Times today announced a

POV.  (PRNewsFoto/POV/American Documentary, Inc.)

POV. (PRNewsFoto/POV/American Documentary, Inc.)

collaboration to present new documentaries on the organizations’ websites, www.pbs.org/pov and www.nytimes.com. Starting last Saturday, March 8 with the half-hour film “The Men of Atalissa” by Dan Barry and Kassie Bracken, POV and The New York Times will premiere a series of digital documentaries, with accompanying articles and interviews, throughout 2014.

“The Men of Atalissa,” produced by The New York Times, will kick off simultaneously on the websites of POV and The Times on March 8. Concurrently, an article by The New York Times’s Dan Barry will be published onThe Times website, and POV will feature a behind-the-scenes online interview with the journalists. Mr. Barry’s article will appear in the Sunday print edition of The New York Times the following day.

Produced by Kassie Bracken, John Woo and Dan Barry, “The Men of Atalissa” is the evocative, haunting story of a few dozen men with intellectual disability who lived in an old schoolhouse on top of a hill. For more than three decades, they were an integral part of an Iowa farming community, worshipping at the local churches, dancing at the local bars, working at a nearby turkey-processing plant; they were affectionately known as “the boys.” But none of their neighbors knew of the day-to-day abuse the men endured in that schoolhouse on the hill.

Documentaries and journalism are natural allies, and our collaboration with The New York Times represents the best of both worlds,” said Cynthia Lopez, Co-Executive Producer of POV. “Americans are hungry for in-depth information. With this initiative, nonfiction filmmakers will join forces with the newsroom’s top journalists to inform and engage the public about critical social issues.”

We are excited to be working with POV, television’s definitive showcase for independent documentary films,” said Ann Derry, The Times Editorial Director, Video Partnerships. “‘The Men of Atalissa’ continues The New York Times’s rich tradition of documentary filmmaking. It’s an extraordinary project and we look forward to an ongoing collaboration with POV.

For information about future POV films, visit www.pbs.org/pov/

POV’s “American Promise” Is a Rare and Compelling Exploration of Race, Class and Opportunity in America, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 on PBS

Two African-American Boys Enter a Prestigious Private School and Their Families Confront the Opportunities and Frustrations Presented by the Changing Face of Success in America

A Co-production of Rada Film Group with ITVS and POV’sDiverse Voices Project, Which Receive Funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Film Is Part ofAmerican Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen. A Co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium.

American Promise provides an outstanding, honest portrayal of the complexities involved in steering black boys to success where cultural barriers and environmental obstacles still remain.”
Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

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American Promise is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 12 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who entered a very prestigious–and historically white–private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Dalton School had made a commitment to recruit students of color, and five-year-old best friends Idris Brewster and Oluwaseun (Seun) Summers of Brooklyn were two of the gifted children who were admitted. The boys were placed in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges, if little reflection of their cultural identities.

Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

Idris’ parents, Joe, a Harvard- and Stanford-trained psychiatrist, and Michèle, a Columbia Law School graduate and filmmaker, decided to film the boys’ progress starting in 1999. They and members of the large Summers family soon found themselves struggling not only with kids’ typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps. American Promise, which traces the boys’ journey from kindergarten through high school graduation, finds the greatest challenge for the families–and perhaps the country–is to close the black male educational achievement gap, which has been called “the civil rights crusade of the 21st century.”

Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s American Promise, winner of a Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 at 10 p.m. (check local listings), closing the 26th season of the award-winning POV (Point of View) on PBS. American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, POV is the winner of a 2013 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

The Dalton School, which provides classes from kindergarten through high school, is a launching pad for success, but also a high-pressure learning environment for all its students. Joe and Michèle, along with Seun’s parents, Tony, a systems engineer for CBS, and Stacey, a nursing care manager for elder health, have worked hard to build their careers despite early disadvantages and are united in their drive to have their sons succeed at school and in life. But there are differences in outlook. Michèle, with Latino-Haitian roots, has some hesitation about sending Idris to private school, where she is afraid he will lose touch with his heritage, while Stacey, who hails from Trinidad, wants Seun to learn something she admits she hasn’t–how to be comfortable around white people. While both fathers have high expectations for their sons, Joe is particularly demanding, while Tony tends to be more forgiving of Seun’s ups and downs. Continue reading

They’ve Been Filmed Every Seven Years Since 1964. Now the “Kids” Are ’56 Up,’ Premiering on POV, Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 on PBS INDIES SHOWCASE

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WHAT BECOMES OF THE DREAMS OF CHILDREN? ACCLAIMED DIRECTOR MICHAEL APTED RETURNS WITH LATEST INSTALLMENT OF GROUNDBREAKING DOCUMENTARY EXPERIMENT THAT BEGAN WITH ‘SEVEN UP!’

POV’s 26th Season continues with the national broadcast premiere of Michael Apted’s 56 Up on Monday, October 14, at 10 PM on PBS (Check local listings). The film is the third film in the new PBS Indies Showcase, a four-week series of independent documentaries airing on Monday nights from September 30 – October 21.

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As part of its commitment to provide viewers with year-round access to the creative work of independent filmmakers, the PBS INDIES SHOWCASE is scheduled during the weeks between the seasons of the award-winning series POV and INDEPENDENT LENS and will feature films from both. While PBS features the work of independent filmmakers throughout the year, the SHOWCASE is designed to spotlight their work and increase audience visibility for this important genre.

In 1964, a group of British 7-year-olds were interviewed about their lives and dreams in a groundbreaking television documentary, Seven Up. Since then, in one of the greatest projects in television history, renowned director Michael Apted has returned to film the same subjects every seven years, tracking their ups and downs. POV, which presented the U.S. broadcast premiere of 49 Up in 2007, returns with 56 Up to find the group settling into middle age and surprisingly upbeat. Through marriage and childbirth, poverty and illness, the “kids” have come to terms with both hope and disappointment.

Jackie, Lynn and Sue at age 7

Jackie, Lynn and Sue at age 7

In 1964, director Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorky Park, Gorillas in the Mist) was a young researcher on the experimental documentary series World in Action for a program called Seven Up!, produced for England’s Granada Television. Taking its cue from the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” the film focused on 7-year-olds from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. By asking 14 children about their lives and their hopes and fears for the future, the filmmakers aimed to explore contemporary English attitudes, especially regarding the class system, as expressed by children. And by following the youngsters as they progressed through life, the Up series looked to test the strength of that system and the truth of the Jesuit saying. Was the adult already visible in the 7-year-old?

Director Michael Apted

Director Michael Apted

After Seven Up!, Apted took the series’ directorial helm, and over the half-century since, he has returned every seven years to ask the same subjects to talk about how they see their lives. The result has been a unique, inspired and always-surprising chronicle of lives-in-the-making. In 56 Up, Apted finds the “kids” have mostly weathered the marital, parental and career tumults of middle age with remarkable aplomb, even as they begin facing the challenges of aging, illness and economic crises.

About the Characters

Tony in 56 Up

Tony in 56 Up

Ebullient, charming, cockney-accented East Ender Tony wanted to be a jockey when we met him in Seven Up! The series followed him as he saw his dream come true and then gave it up to be a cabbie. He’s been successful enough to own a home in England, which he shares with his wife, Debbie, and their children and grandchildren. He also owns a vacation home in Spain. In 56 Up, Tony shows the lot he was planning to develop before the economy turned sour. He seems happy, yet he harbors guilt about infidelities and frustration with the immigrants who have changed his beloved East End. He talks about 32 years of marriage. “High and low, Debbie has stood by me,” he says tearfully. “At the end of it, I still love her so.” As he visits the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, formerly the site of a dog track in his East End neighborhood, he brims with pride. The Up series has brought him such recognition that when astronaut Buzz Aldrin was his passenger, a taxi driver pulled up and requested an autograph. When Tony asked Aldrin to oblige, the other cabbie said, “No . . . I want your autograph.” Says Tony, “To this day I thought to myself, ‘I’m more famous than Buzz Aldrin? He’s the second man to land on the moon!'” Continue reading

POV’s ‘Best Kept Secret,’ Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 on PBS

Newark’s JFK High School Is No Secret to the Autistic Students Who Thrive in Its Dynamic Learning Environment

Passionate Teacher Janet Mino Struggles to Find Her Graduating Students a Place in the Adult World, Before They “Age Out” of the System

Premiere Date: September 23, 2013

Streaming Dates (on PBS’s POV website): Sept. 24, 2013 – Oct. 7, 2013

Credits:

Director: Samantha Buck

Producer: Danielle DiGiacomo

Executive Producers: Paul Bernon, Sean Curran, Daniella Kahane, Scott Mosier

Co-Producers: Samantha Buck, Zeke Farrow

Cinematographer: Nara Garber

Editor: Francisco Belloi

Associate Editor: Matt Posorske

Original Music: Brian Satz

“In and out of the classroom, Mino fights for her kids, first to teach them life skills, then to help ensure they don’t spend that life neglected . . .”The Washington Post Express

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At Newark, N.J.’s JFK High School, the staff answers the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s best-kept secret.” It doesn’t take long watching the new documentary Best Kept Secret (Running Time: 90 minutes) to see why. Hardly anyone would expect an inner-city public school to be able to marshal the innovative programs, exceptional teachers and passionate commitment that JFK brings to its special-needs students. The film focuses on the school’s work with students with autism, who are characterized by difficulties with language and social interaction. The staff is not content only to give these students survival skills. They fight a tough, daily battle to open students up to the world. As teacher Janet Mino, puts it, “If I can teach you to take care of yourself . . . I can teach you to express yourself.” JFK High just may be one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

But the remarkable efforts of the school come with an expiration date. Its students, who can enter at age 10, are “aged out” at 21. Parents and teachers call it “falling off the cliff,” because of the scarcity of continuing adult education programs and accommodations. In 2012, Mino faces the prospect of her entire class of six young men going off that cliff, and she begins a desperate search for alternatives to homebound idleness, institutionalization or homelessness for her graduating students.

Ms. Mino helps Robert as he struggles to read. (Credit - Nara Garber)

Ms. Mino helps Robert as he struggles to read. (Credit – Nara Garber)

Samantha Buck’s Best Kept Secret has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS during the 26th season of the award-winning PBS series POV (Point of View). American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, POV was honored with a 2013 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Mino is the focus of Best Kept Secret, and her work with three of her students–Robert, Erik and Quran–and their families forms the drama of the film. Mino is tough, energetic and mentally on the job 24/7. She has bottomless reserves of patience and compassion for her students. One of the pleasures of the film is seeing the determination and optimism Mino and her fellow teachers bring to unrelenting daily challenges.

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Erik is Mino’s highest-functioning student, the class cut-up who is smart, talkative and good at following directions. He is happy and loves his “two moms”: a biological mother who is too ill to care for him and a dedicated and loving foster mother. Erik seems the most ready to graduate. In fact, he has a dream–to work at Burger King. Continue reading