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PBS Announces Six New Docs In Its Female-Focused 'Makers' Series, Two From Oscar Nominees Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire January 21, 2014 at 12:44PM

PBS has announced that this summer it will be airing six new hour-long installments in its documentary series "Makers: Women Who Make America." Founded by filmmaker Dyllan McGee, the "Makers" project launched in 2012 and is a multi-platform initiative that also includes a growing online collection of more than 200 original video interviews.
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PBS 'Makers: Women Who Make America '

PBS has announced that this summer it will be airing six new hour-long installments in its documentary series "Makers: Women Who Make America." Founded by filmmaker Dyllan McGee, the "Makers" project launched in 2012 and is a multi-platform initiative that also includes a growing online collection of more than 200 original video interviews.

The new films, which are directed and produced by the likes of Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing ("Detropia") and Rory Kennedy ("Ghosts of Abu Ghraib"), expand on the three-hour doc "Makers: Women Who Make America," which premiered in February 2013 and told the story of the American women’s movement over the last half-century. Here's the list of new films, which will premiere between June and September -- descriptions are courtesy of PBS:

MAKERS: Women & War looks at American women’s increasing participation in war—from Vietnam to the present—as nurses, soldiers, journalists, diplomats and spies. Among those featured are Linda Bray, the first woman to lead troops into battle, and Valerie Plame Wilson, whose career was sabotaged after she was “outed” as a high-level spy. Viewers hear from war correspondents Molly Moore, Clarissa Ward and Christiane Amanpour about life on the battlefield. The film shares the stories of military leaders who have broken through gender barriers, like General Angela Salinas, at her retirement the highest ranking woman serving in the USMC, and Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Navy. Produced and directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing. The documentary is scheduled to air June 24, 2014.

MAKERS: Women & Space traces the history of women pioneers in the U.S. space program. Some, like aviators Wally Funk and Jerrie Cobb, passed the same grueling tests as male astronauts, only to be dismissed by NASA, the military, and even Lyndon Johnson, as a distraction. It wasn’t until 1995 that Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a spacecraft. The program includes interviews with Collins, as well as Sally Ride’s classmates Shannon Lucid, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan, and features Mae Jemison, the first woman of color astronaut, and Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station. The hour ends with the next generation of women engineers, mathematicians and astronauts—the new group of pioneers, like Marleen Martinez and Dava Newman, who continue to make small but significant steps forward. Produced and directed by Michael Epstein. The documentary is scheduled to air July 1, 2014.

MAKERS: Women & Comedy tracks the rise of women in the world of comedy, from the “dangerous” comedy of 70s sitcoms like Maude to the groundbreaking women of the 1980s American comedy club boom and building to today’s multifaceted landscape. Today, movies like Bridesmaids break box office records and the women of Saturday Night Live are often more famous than their male counterparts. Contemporary comics, including Chelsea Handler, Mo’Nique, Sarah Silverman, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin, talk about where women started in this competitive, male-dominated profession and where they are determined to go. Produced and directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The documentary is scheduled to air July 8, 2014.

MAKERS: Women & Business tells the story of the exceptional women—past and present—who have taken the world of business by storm. Told by female business leaders themselves, this is a candid exploration of what it takes to make it and a celebration of the extraordinary individuals who, over the course of 50 years, have proven—on Wall Street, in corporate America or business empires of their own—that a woman’s place is wherever she believes it to be. Some of the featured business leaders include Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox and the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company; Sallie Krawcheck, Wall Street powerhouse and current owner of the global networking platform for women, 85 Broads; Cathy Hughes, radio and television personality and the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation; lifestyle mogul and business magnate Martha Stewart; and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, whose provocative book, Lean In, ignited a national conversation about women, feminism and equality in the workplace. Produced by Leah Williams and directed by Jamila Wignot. The documentary is scheduled to air August 26, 2014.

MAKERS: Women & Hollywood showcases the women of showbiz, from the earliest pioneers to present-day power players, as they influence the creation of one of the country’s biggest commodities: entertainment. Audiences hear from actress-producer-activist Jane Fonda, who at 75 is playing a sharp, sexy and powerful media mogul on the award-winning series The Newsroom; television powerhouse Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who re-imagined the traditional Disney princess by making Belle (Beauty and the Beast) a self-possessed, strong-willed young woman; writer-director-actress Lena Dunham, who mines comedy and drama gold by exploring what it’s really like to be a young woman today; six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close; director Nancy Meyers; and actress Zoe Saldana. Produced by Rory Kennedy with Producer/Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton. The documentary is scheduled to air September 2, 2014.

MAKERS: Women & Politics profiles women in public office who were “firsts” in their fields. From the first woman elected to Congress in 1916 to a young woman running for Detroit City Council in 2013, the documentary explores the challenges confronting American women in politics. Trailblazing leaders like Hillary Clinton, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Olympia Snowe, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, and Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to serve in Congress, provide a backdrop for younger women like Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim-American woman elected to the Michigan House, and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, who chronicles her run for Detroit City Council. Today’s leaders in Washington, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the first female Senator from Massachusetts, Susan Collins (R-ME), who led the Senate in shaping a deal to end the government shutdown, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), currently the youngest woman serving in Congress, are also represented. Produced by Rory Kennedy with Producer/Director Grace Lee. The documentary is scheduled to air September 9, 2014.

This article is related to: Television, TV News, PBS, Makers, Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing