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

American Documentary | POV Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

$1 MILLION AWARD RECOGNIZES AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY AND ITS GROUNDBREAKING PUBLIC TELEVISION SERIES, POV, FOR EXTRAORDINARY CREATIVITY AND EFFECTIVENESS

AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV is one of only 13 nonprofit organizations around the world to win this year’s MACARTHUR AWARD FOR CREATIVE AND EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONS. The award, which was announced today, recognizes exceptional grantees that have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV will use its $1 million MACARTHUR AWARD to build its cash reserves and complete an infrastructure upgrade.

According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. Organizations will use this support to build cash reserves and endowments, develop strategic plans, and upgrade technology and physical infrastructure.

POV Logo (Photo Credit: American Documentary, Inc.)

POV Logo (Photo Credit: American Documentary, Inc.)

Furthermore, for these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.

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 and is often 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. Continue reading