PBS’ Independent Lens Announces Lineup, Host for Fall Season
by Claiborne Smith
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) and PBS have announced the lineup for the second season of Independent Lens, the series devoted to independent documentaries, features, and shorts. Beginning Tuesdays starting Oct. 14 (check local listings), PBS stations will air such Independent Lens programs as “Livermore,” about the oddballs inhabiting an eccentric California town, and “Shaolin Ulysses: Kung Fu Monks in America.” The second season on Independent Lens features an expanded 29 installments of the program, which is hosted by actor and director Don Cheadle.
ITVS and PBS tout the second season of Independent Lens as the series’ “most ambitious to date,” a claim Independent Lens producer Lois Vossen says is easy to corroborate. “In addition to 29 episodes, we have a commitment to help shorts filmmakers, so there are actually 37 films,” she points out. ITVS works closely with co-producing partners like Latino Public Broadcasting and individual PBS stations to create its lineup. “The season is also ambitious in the sense that we have Don Cheadle as host; he’s not a household name yet but we know he brings a real sense of quality to the series,” Vossen says.
But the most notable aspect of Independent Lens’ second season may be its lineup, which ranges from “Be Good, Smile Pretty,” by Tracy Droz Tragos, whose father died in Vietnam when she was a baby, to “Man Bites Shorts,” a program of five short films focusing on the lives of men in both comical and insightful ways. “We’re committed to having fun,” Vossen says, while stressing that ITVS “worked really hard to find a balance of shows that shows what it means to be elderly, a foreigner, gay, Latino, Asian-American.” From its inception, ITVS was congressionally mandated to provide programming that portrays the lives of people in “under-served” or marginalized populations. “When you look at the season as a whole, it’s a broad spectrum of the American experience, that whole idea that America is a gumbo of identities.”
[ For a complete list of the Independent Lens fall lineup, see http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/ ]