PBS documentary series Independent Lens seriously suffered in its ratings when it was moved from Tuesday to Thursday nights this past season, getting stranded on the most competitive evening of the TV week and one traditionally left for local programming on individual stations.
The move resulted in the series being inconsistently scheduled and difficult to find, upsetting the film community and fans enough that they protested until PBS came around and announced that in their new seasons, both Independent Lens and POV would shifted to Mondays. As PBS’ senior VP and chief TV programming executive John Wilson told Indiewire, “We wanted to have a place where we could have consistent placement in the schedule and hit as good a lead-in as possible that we could offer. Monday nights at 10pm seem to fill the bill. it’s proven to be a popular night on PBS’s schedule specifically.”
Today, PBS announced that the 11th season of Independent Lens will premiere Monday, October 29th with Macky Alston’s “Love Free or Die,” about New Hampshire’s Gene Robinson, the first openly gay elected bishop in the Episcopal Church. The film premiered at Sundance this year, and is the second from the director to air in Independent Lens — his “Hard Road Home” was part of the series in 2008.
The full Independent Lens 2012-13 season will be announced after Labor Day, but other films that will air as part of the series include Brad Lichtenstein “As Goes Janesville” (November 5th), about a once-prosperous Wisconsis town fighting to redefine itself in the face of the closing of the country’s oldest GM plant; Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War”; Eugene Jarecki’s “The House I Live In”; “Detropia” by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady; Alison Klayman’s “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”; and “Beauty Is Embarrassing” by Neil Berkeley.
Independent Lens will also be airing the two night, prime time special doc/transmedia event “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The miniseries from Maro Chermayeff is scheduled to air Monday and Tuesday, October 1 and 2, at 9pm, and is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
“Half the Sky” 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 individuals who are confronting oppression and developing real, meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.”
Independent Lens will also premiere two films from the Why Poverty Project. The first is Alex Gibney’s “Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream” on November 12th, a look at “the top one percent of ‘the one percent’ of the richest Americans, many of whom live in one Park Avenue apartment building and wield extraordinary influence on American politics and economics.” The second is Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim’s “Solar Mamas” on December 17th, centered on the women of India’s Barefoot College, which “provides rural women living in poverty with an education that empowers them to make their communities self reliant and sustainable.”
Check out a trailer for “Love Free or Die” below: