Longrunning PBS documentary series POV announced its 26th season today, one that will kick off on Monday, June 24th at 10pm and run through September 23rd, with four special presentations following in the fall and winter. This will mark POV’s first season in the Monday night timeslot, one to which the preceding Independent Lens season was also moved and one that should prove better for the series than the previous Thursdays. Here’s a look at the full 2013 schedule, with descriptions courtesy of PBS — all films air Monday at 10pm.
June 24 – Homegoings by Christine Turner
Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones “home.” An Official Selection of MoMA’s 2013 Documentary Fortnight. A co-production of ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (nbpc).
July 1 – Special Flight by Fernand Melgar
Special Flight is a dramatic account of the plight of undocumented foreigners at the Frambois detention center in Geneva, Switzerland, and of the wardens who struggle to reconcile humane values with the harsh realities of a strict deportation system. These 25 Frambois inmates are among the thousands of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants imprisoned without charge or trial and facing deportation to their native countries, where they fear repression or even death. The film, made in Switzerland, is a heart-wrenching exposé of the contradictions between the country’s compassionate social policies and the intractability of its immigration laws.
July 8 – Herman’s House by Angad Singh Bhalla
Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States–he’s spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman’s House is a moving account of the expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace’s “dream home” began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo’s unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art.
July 15 – Only the Young by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims
Only the Young follows three unconventional Christian teenagers coming of age in a small Southern California town. Skateboarders Garrison and Kevin, and Garrison’s on-and-off girlfriend, Skye, wrestle with the eternal questions of youth: friendship, true love and the promise of the future. Yet their lives are also touched by the distress signals of contemporary America–foreclosed homes, abandoned businesses and adults in financial trouble. As graduation approaches, these issues become shocking realities. With sun-drenched visuals, lyrical storytelling and a soul-music soundtrack, Only the Young embodies the innocence and candor of its youthful subjects–and of adolescence itself.
July 22 – High Tech, Low Life by Stephen Maing
High Tech, Low Life follows two of China’s first citizen-reporters as they document the underside of the country’s rapid economic development. A search for truth and fame inspires young vegetable seller “Zola” to report on censored news stories from the cities, while retired businessman “Tiger Temple” makes sense of the past by chronicling the struggles of rural villagers. Land grabs, pollution, rising poverty, local corruption and the growing willingness of ordinary people to speak out are grist for these two bloggers who navigate China’s evolving censorship regulations and challenge the boundaries of free speech. A co-production of ITVS and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
July 29 – 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. 5 – Last Train Home by Lixin Fan (Encore presentation)
Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 240 million migrant workers return to their villages for the New Year in the world’s largest human migration. Last Train Home goes on a heart-stopping journey with a couple who left infant children behind for factory jobs 16 years ago. They return to a family growing distant and a daughter longing to leave school. As the family members navigate their new world, this award-winning film paints a rich, human portrait of today’s China. Winner, Best Documentary, 2012 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards. An EyeSteelFilm production in association with ITVS International. A co-presentation with CAAM.
Aug. 12 – The City Dark by Ian Cheney (Encore presentation)
Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.
Aug. 19 – The Law in These Parts by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz and Liran Atzmor
In The Law in These Parts, acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz has pulled off a tour-de-force examination of the system of military administration used by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967–featuring the system’s leading creators. In a series of thoughtful and candid interviews, Israeli judges, prosecutors and legal advisers who helped devise the occupation’s legal framework paint a complex picture of the Middle East conflict and the balance among political interests, security and human rights that has come with it. Winner, World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary, 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Aug. 26 – 5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Nominated for an Oscar®, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal first-hand account of life and nonviolent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village where Israel is building a security fence. Palestinian Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, shot the film and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi co-directed. The filmmakers follow one family’s evolution over five years, witnessing a child’s growth from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him. The film is a Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production.
POV is preempted on Sept. 2, and returns the following week.
Sept. 9 – Ping Pong by Hugh Hartford and Anson Hartford
Call this old age, extreme edition: Eight players with 703 years between them compete in the Over 80 World Table Tennis Championships in China’s Inner Mongolia. British players Terry, 81, who has been given a week to live, and Les, 91, a weightlifter and poet, are going for the gold. Inge, 89, from Germany, has used table tennis to paddle her way out of dementia. And Texan Lisa, 85, is playing for the first time. Ping Pong is a wonderfully unusual story of hope, regret, friendship, ambition, love–and sheer human tenacity in the face of aging and mortality.
Sept. 16 – The World Before Her by Nisha Pahuja
The World Before Her is a tale of two Indias. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant–a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity and Islam. Moving between these divergent realities, the film creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment–and of two women who hope to shape its future. Winner, World Documentary Competition Award, 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
Sept. 23 – Best Kept Secret by Samantha Buck
At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s best-kept secret.” JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they “age out” of the system.
Special Broadcasts: This fall, PBS will present a four-week multi-platform Independent Film Showcase on Monday nights at 10pm (dates still TBA) which will bridge the gap between seasons of and involved films that have been broadcast as part of POV and Independent Lens.
The PBS Independent Film Showcase will feature two POV titles:
Brooklyn Castle by Katie Dellamaggiore
This public-school powerhouse in junior high chess competitions has won more than 30 national championships, the most of any school in the country. Its 85-member squad boasts so many strong players that the late Albert Einstein, a dedicated chess maven, would rank fourth if he were on the team. Most astoundingly, I.S. 318 is a Brooklyn school that serves mostly minority students from families living below the poverty line. Brooklyn Castle is the exhilarating story of five of the school’s aspiring young players and how chess became the school’s unlikely inspiration for academic success.
56 Up by Michael Apted
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.
In the fall and winter, POV will present two special broadcasts:
American Promise by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (date/time TBA)
American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of Rada Film Group, ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by CPB. A co-presentation with NBPC. Part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by CPB.
StoryCorps Special by The Rauch Brothers (date/time TBA)
The first-ever animated special from StoryCorps celebrates the transformative power of listening. POV’s StoryCorps Special features six stories from 10 years of the innovative oral history project, where everyday people sit down together to share memories and tackle life’s important questions. Framing these intimate conversations from across the country is an interview between StoryCorps founder Dave Isay and his inquisitive 9-year-old nephew, Benji, animated in the inimitable visual style of The Rauch Brothers. Funded by CPB.