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PBS’ ‘Independent Lens’ Documentary Series Announces 2016 Winter-Spring Season Lineup

PBS' 'Independent Lens' Documentary Series Announces 2016 Winter-Spring Season Lineup

PBS’ award-winning documentary film series “Independent Lens” has announced its 2016 Winter-Spring season lineup today.

“These films amplify conversations happening across the country on issues like the rise of gun violence, racial unrest, and the delicate balance between civil liberties and national security,” said “Independent Lens” executive producer Lois Vossen. “Remarkable people are at the core of these stories. Some are famous, like the ‘Amazing’ Randi and ballerina Misty Copeland; others have done extraordinary things living seemingly ordinary lives, including a South Carolina grandmother whose family represents the new face of HIV/AIDS – African Americans in the rural south, as well as young Polynesian American football players dreaming of a career in the NFL, Latina immigrant mothers who were unwillingly sterilized in 1970s Los Angeles, and young people on the autism spectrum looking for love. ‘Independent Lens” films explore the diversity of our world and our common humanity.”

Below is the season lineup for January through May 2016. Of note, with respect to this blog’s interests, are: “A Ballerina’s Tale” by Nelson George; “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” by Stanley Nelson; “T(ERROR)” by Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe; “Wilhemina’s War” by June Cross; “Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson; and “Dogtown Redemption” by Amir Soltani.

Additional summer specials will be announced at a later date. All programs are at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings) unless otherwise noted.

Lineup, with titles, descriptions and premiere dates, follow below:

Monday, January 11, 2016

“Autism in Love” by Matt Fuller

Finding love can be hard enough for anyone, but for those with an autism spectrum disorder, the challenges may seem overwhelming. The disorder can jeopardize the core characteristics of a successful relationship — communication and social interaction. Autism in Love offers a warm and stereotype-shattering look at four people as they pursue and manage romantic relationships.

Monday, January 25, 2016

“In Football We Trust” by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn

An insightful and moving documentary that transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, one of the chief sources for the NFL’s influx of Pacific Islander players. Shot over a four-year period with unprecedented access, the film follows four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through the promise of American football.

Monday, February 1, 2016

“No Más Bebés” by Renee Tajima-Peña  

The film recounts how a small group of Mexican immigrant mothers and activists sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and ‘70s. Many of the mothers spoke no English, and charged that they had been forced to consent to having their tubes tied by doctors and nurses during the late stages of labor — often based on little more than the question “More babies?”

Monday, February 8, 2016

“A Ballerina’s Tale” by Nelson George

Few dancers make it to the highest levels of classical ballet; of that already small number only a fraction are black women. But Misty Copeland has risen to the highest level, making history as the first African American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Get an intimate look at this groundbreaking artist during a crucial period in her life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 9:00 PM

“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” by Stanley Nelson

Stanley Nelson’s acclaimed film is the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.

Monday, February 22, 2016

“T(ERROR)” by Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe

Winner of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Break Out Documentary award, “T(ERROR)” is the gripping story of a 62-year-old former black revolutionary turned counter-terrorism informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This unprecedented documentary goes deep inside the world of an active terror sting, without FBI consent, with a plot that unfolds with the drama and intrigue of an espionage thriller.

Monday, February 29, 2016

“Wilhemina’s War” by June Cross

HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for black women in the rural South. This powerful film follows South Carolina grandmother Wilhemina Dixon as she struggles to care for her daughter and granddaughter who are living with HIV.

Monday, March 28, 2016

“An Honest Liar” by Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom

For the last half-century, James “The Amazing Randi” has entertained millions of people around the world with his remarkable feats of magic, escape, and trickery. But when he saw faith healers, fortunetellers, and psychics using his beloved magician’s tricks to steal money from innocent people and destroy lives, he dedicated his life to exposing frauds, with the wit and style of the great showman that he is.

Monday, April 4, 2016

“Welcome to Leith” by Michael Nichols and Christopher Walker

“Welcome to Leith” chronicles the attempted takeover of a small North Dakota town by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb and his followers. As their behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar and longtime Leith residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbors. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

“Democrats” by Camilla Nielsson

“Democrats” is a film about the creation of a new constitution in Zimbabwe. The film follows two top politicians who have been appointed to lead the country through the reform process – political opponents, but united in their ambition to make history by giving the nation a new founding document that could give birth to a future Zimbabwe.

Monday, May 2, 2016

“Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did” by David Evans

This powerful film explores the relationship between two men, each the child of Nazi war criminals who were responsible for thousands of deaths. Through frank interviews, the men reflect on the crimes of their fathers and the price of forgiveness.

Monday, May 9, 2016 at 9:00PM

“Peace Officer” by Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson

“Peace Officer” explores the increasingly tense relationship between law enforcement and the public as seen through the eyes of a man who’s been on both sides. Former sheriff William “Dub” Lawrence established Utah’s first SWAT team, only to witness the same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Now a private investigator, Dub seeks the truth in his son-in-law’s case and other officer-involved shootings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 9:00PM

“The Armor of Light” by Abigail Disney

Two people of faith come together to explore the contradictions of a nation rife with gun violence: a famously anti-abortion evangelical minister who risks losing followers when he questions the morality of gun ownership and a grieving mother dedicated to creating change after the shooting of her unarmed teenage son.

Monday, May 16, 2016

“Dogtown Redemption” by Amir Soltani

For a number of residents in Dogtown, one of Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods, collecting and recycling trash is a primary source of income. To other residents, however, recycling only adds to the dirt and noise in the community. “Dogtown Redemption” explores the complex dynamics of race, class, and systemic poverty as it tells the story of four recyclers who struggle to survive in a neighborhood already decimated by unemployment, addiction, and violence.

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