PBS documentary series “POV” will kick off its 27th season on June 23rd, and today announced its film lineup through August 18, with additional docs to be featured later in the regular season and as POV specials to be announced shortly. Among the topics tackled by this year’s slate are making a film with multiple sclerosis, the rebuilding of New Orleans, life sentences for juvelines and a Lebanese refugee camps.
“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.”
Here’s the June-August lineup.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August 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.
August 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.
August 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.