By Alison Willmore | Indiewire March 22, 2012 at 3:18PM
POV announced its 2012 season today, celebrating 25 years on PBS with a lineup that includes such acclaimed nonfiction films as "Nostalgia for the Light," "The City Dark" and "Give Up Tomorrow." The award-winning documentary series, which has attracted some ire from filmmakers by moving last year from a Tuesday to a more competitive Thursday night at 10pm slot, will kick off with Jennifer Fox's "My Reincarnation" on June 21st.
Here's the line-up, with descriptions courtesy of POV:
June 21: "My Reincarnation" by Jennifer Fox
Filmed over 20 years by acclaimed documentarian Jennifer Fox, "My Reincarnation" chronicles the epic story of exiled Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and his Western-born son, Yeshi. As Norbu rises as a teacher in the West, Yeshi, recognized from birth as the reincarnation of a famed Buddhist master, breaks away to embrace the modern world. Can the father convince his son to keep the family's spiritual legacy alive? With intimate access to both the family and H.H. the Dalai Lama, Fox distills a decades-long drama into a universal story about love, transformation and destiny. Winner, Top 20 Audience Award, 2010 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (idfa). Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.
In a stunning milestone for justice in Central America, a Guatemalan court recently charged former dictator Efraín Rios Montt with genocide for his brutal war against the country's Mayan people in the 1980s -- and Pamela Yates' 1983 documentary, "When the Mountains Tremble," provided key evidence for bringing the indictment. "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator" tells the extraordinary story of how a film, aiding a new generation of human rights activists, became a granito -- a tiny grain of sand -- that helped tip the scales of justice. An Official Selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.
July 5: "The City Dark" by Ian Cheney
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.
July 12: "Guilty Pleasures" by Julie Moggan
Every four seconds a romance novel published by Harlequin or its British counterpart, Mills & Boon, is sold somewhere in the world. Julie Moggan's "Guilty Pleasures" takes an amusing and touching look at this global phenomenon. Ironies abound in the contrasts between the everyday lives of the books' readers and the fantasy worlds that offer them escape. "Guilty Pleasures" portrays five romance devotees who must, ultimately, find their dreams in the real world. An Official Selection of the 2010 IDFA.
Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur'an school for girls in Damascus, Syria, 30 years ago. Every summer, her female students immerse themselves in a rigorous study of Islam. A surprising cultural shift is underway -- women are claiming space within the mosque. Shot right before the uprising in Syria erupted, "The Light in Her Eyes" offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their aspirations. An Official Selection of the 2011 IDFA.
July 26: "Up Heartbreak Hill" by Erica Scharf
Thomas and Tamara are track stars at their rural New Mexico high school. Like many teenagers, they are torn between the lure of brighter futures elsewhere and the ties that bind them to home. For these teens, however, home is an impoverished town on the Navajo reservation, and leaving means separating from family, tradition and the land that has been theirs for generations. Erica Scharf's Up Heartbreak Hill is a moving look at a new generation of Americans struggling to be both Native and modern. A co-production of Long Distance Films, Native American Public Telecommunications, ITVS, POV's Diverse Voices Project and New Mexico PBS, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (cpb).
Aug. 2: "Nostalgia for the Light" by Patricio Guzmán
Patricio Guzmán's "Nostalgia for the Light" is a remarkable meditation on memory, history and eternity. Chile's remote Atacama Desert, 10,000 feet above sea level, provides stunningly clear views of the heavens. But it also holds secrets from the past in its arid soil: human remains, from pre-Columbian mummies to the bones of political prisoners "disappeared" during the Pinochet dictatorship. In this otherworldly place, earthly and celestial quests meld: Archaeologists dig for ancient civilizations, women search for their loved ones and astronomers scan the skies for new galaxies. An Official Selection of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
Short is sweet as POV presents brief documentary encounters, including an Academy Award nominee, a Student Academy Award® winner and the return of StoryCorps:
- "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday: In this 2012 Oscar-nominated short film, Alabama barber and civil rights veteran James Armstrong experiences the fulfillment of an unimaginable dream: the election of the first African-American president. An Official Selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. (21 minutes)
- "Sin País (Without Country)" by Theo Rigby: Winner of a 2011 Student Academy Award, this short film explores one family's complex and emotional journey involving deportation. (19 minutes)
- StoryCorps by The Rauch Brothers: The Peabody Award-winning oral-history project StoryCorps brings intimate conversations among friends and families to life in touching, often humorous animated shorts that tell universal stories. Shorts include "Eyes on the Stars," in which Carl McNair tells the story of his brother Ronald, an African-American kid in the 1950s who set his sights on the stars (2 minutes); "Facundo the Great," in which Ramón "Chunky" Sanchez recounts how the new kid at school became a hero when his teachers could not find a way to anglicize his name (1 minute); and "A Family Man," in which Sam Black talks to his wife about his father, an enduring lesson and the power of a look (3 minutes). Funded by CPB.
From Aug. 16 through Sept. 13, during PBS Pledge Break, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and special programming, POV reprises five acclaimed films: "Steam of Life" (Aug. 16), "Presumed Guilty" (Aug. 23), "Better This World" (Aug. 30), "Where Soldiers Come From" (Sept. 6) and "Kings of Pastry" (Sept. 13).
Sept. 20: "I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful" by Jonathan Demme
In 2005, Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme set out to document the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. When he met Carolyn Parker, what began as a historical documentary morphed into a vibrant character study of the courage and resiliency of this fearless matriarch and civil rights activist. I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful is Demme's intimate account of Parker's five-year crusade to rebuild her beloved neon-green house, her church, her community—and her life. An Official Selection of the 2011 IDFA.
Award-winning director Natalia Almada ("Al Otro Lado," POV 2005; "El General," POV 2009) returns with a beautiful and mesmerizing new film. From dusk to dawn, "El Velador (The Night Watchman)" accompanies Martin, a guard who watches over the extravagant mausoleums of some of Mexico's most notorious drug lords. In the labyrinth of the cemetery, this film about violence without violence reminds us that, amid the turmoil of a drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives, ordinary existence persists in Mexico and quietly defies the dead. An Official Selection of the 2011 Cannes Directors' Fortnight and IDFA. A co-production of Altamura Films and American Documentary | POV in association with LPB, with funding provided by CPB.
Oct. 4: "Give Up Tomorrow" by Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco
As a tropical storm beats down on an island in the Philippines, two sisters leave work and never make it home. Paco Larrañaga, a 19-year-old student, is sentenced to death for their rape and murder, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. "Give Up Tomorrow" exposes shocking corruption within the judicial system of the Philippines and one of the most sensational trials in the country's history. Two grieving mothers, entangled in a case that ends a nation's use of capital punishment but fails to free an innocent man, dedicate more than a decade to executing or saving him. Audience Award winner, 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. An Official Selection of the 2011 IDFA. A co-production of ITVS, the Center for Asian American Media and POV's Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by CPB in association with the BBC.
As the vice-presidential debate takes place the following week, POV offers an encore presentation of "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" (Oct. 11).
When a Navajo couple discovers their children have a disorder that makes exposure to sunlight fatal, they also learn their reservation is a hotbed for this rare genetic disease. Why? "Sun Kissed" follows Dorey and Yolanda Nez as they confront cultural taboos, tribal history and their own unconventional choices to learn the shocking truth: The consequences of the Navajos' Long Walk—their forced relocation by the U.S. military in 1864—are far from over. A co-production of ITVS.
Fall Special Presentation (dates and times TBD): "Reportero" by Bernardo Ruiz
"Reportero" follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. In Mexico, more than 40 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to power and launched a government offensive against the country's powerful drug cartels and organized crime. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced? A co-production of Quiet Pictures and ITVS in association with LPB, with funding provided by CPB.
Winter Special Presentation (dates and times TBD): "Girl Model" by A. Sabin and David Redmon
"Girl Model" strips away the facade of the modeling industry by following two people whose lives intersect because of it. Ashley is a deeply conflicted American model scout, and 13-year-old Nadya, plucked from a remote Siberian village and promised a lucrative career in Japan, is her latest discovery. As the young girl searches for glamour and an escape from poverty, she confronts the harsh realities of a culture that worships youth—and an industry that makes perpetual childhood a globally traded commodity. An Official Selection of the 2011 IDFA. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.