Emmy Award-Winning PBS Series Independent Lens to Showcase New Season at the July 2007 Television Critics Association Press Tour

Panel to showcase box office hit WORDPLAY, MISS NAVAJO and PLEASE VOTE FOR ME

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Panel to showcase box office hit WORDPLAY, Patrick Creadon’s acclaimed documentary about New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz, his fans and the drama behind a crossword championship 

Also to be highlighted are MISS NAVAJO, an engaging look at a unique beauty pageant and PLEASE VOTE FOR ME, a spirited documentary from China that chronicles cautious experimentation with democracy in a third-grade classroom 

(San Francisco, CA)—The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today that its Emmy® Award-winning series, Independent Lens, will be prominently featured at the upcoming Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, scheduled for July 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. Independent Lens, now entering its sixth consecutive season, airs nationally on PBS on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM October through June. 

The first of the two-part Independent Lens presentation will feature Patrick Creadon’s acclaimed documentary, WORDPLAY, an engrossing peek at a national pastime, puzzles and the people who solve them. WORDPLAY focuses on the man most associated with crossword puzzles, New York Times Puzzle Editor and NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Director Patrick Creadon introduces us to this passionate hero and to the inner workings of his brilliant and often hilarious contributors, including syndicated puzzle creator Merl Reagle. Along the way, the film introduces us to avid crossword puzzlers such as Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Mike Mussina and the Indigo Girls, who reveal the roots of their crossword obsession. 

In addition to deconstructing this uniquely American institution, WORDPLAY takes us to the Super Bowl of crossword puzzling, the 28th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament where almost five hundred competitors battle it out for the title “Crossword Champ.” A delightful look at the pleasures of thinking inside the box, WORDPLAY shows us why over 50 million Americans take up pencil (or in some brave cases, pen) to crossword puzzles every week. 

WORDPLAY was a critical and box office success in its theatrical run and its broadcast premiere on Independent Lens continues the series’ goal of being the premiere television venue for major theatrical documentaries, following in the tradition established by the Independent Lens broadcast of such successes as WEATHER UNDERGROUND, END OF THE CENTURY: The Ramones, and this season’s ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room. Featured on the TCA panel will be the film’s director Patrick Creadon, producer Christine O’Malley, Will Shortz and Tyler Hinman, three-time winner of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. WORLDPLAY will come to PBS in October. 

Also featured in the Independent Lens presentation is MISS NAVAJO, a warm and engaging look at the hard work and excitement leading up to the annual Miss Navajo pageant, by filmmaker Billy Luther, whose mother was Miss Navajo 1962. It’s a contest and a unique cultural institution in which young women demonstrate their proficiency in both modern and traditional skills, including sheep butchering, fry-bread making and fluency in the Navajo language. The Miss Navajo pageant aims to both celebrate and preserve the Navajo culture while empowering young Navajo women to embrace their heritage and represent their tribe to the world. The Independent Lens broadcast of MISS NAVAJO continues the series’ ongoing mission to showcase films that explore social issues and diverse communities, like such past Independent Lens’s standouts as THE NEW AMERICANS, A PLACE OF OUR OWN, HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, KNOCKING and SENTENCED HOME. 

Present at the panel will be producer/director Billy Luther; Sunny Dooley (Miss Navajo 1982); Sarah Johnson Luther (Miss Navajo 1962 and the filmmaker’s mother); and Crystal Frazier, the 2005 Miss Navajo contestant featured in the film. MISS NAVAJO will likely air in November 2007. 

Finally, the panel will also include a sneak peak at a third film in our new season lineup, PLEASE VOTE FOR ME, a look at a surprising lesson in democracy that arises when a third grade class in China holds an election for class monitor. 

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME, a film by Don Edkins and Mette Heide, reinforces Independent Lens’s longtime mission to bring international films to American audiences, like such memorable Independent Lens shows such as AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED, THE DAY MY GOD DIED, SEOUL TRAIN, CHINA BLUE and others. 

“Whether its crossword puzzle addicts across America, young women striving to embrace their heritage on Native American reservations, or school kids in China learning their first lessons about democracy; the new season of Independent Lens will feature programs that are as different as they are engaging and will reflect the diversity of programming on Independent Lens. We really are a film festival in your living room,” said Series Producer Lois Vossen. 

The complete 2007-2008 Independent Lens lineup will be announced shortly. For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/independentlens. 

About Independent Lens 

Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen. 

CONTACT: Voleine Amilcar, ITVS 415-356-8383 x 244 voleine_amilcar@itvs.org

Posted on June 27, 2007