Emmy Award-Winning PBS Series Independent Lens Returns for its Ninth Season

2010-2011 Line-up Features 27 New Docs That Explore Art, Faith, Politics, Justice, and More

"Consistently rewarding." — The New York Times

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(San Francisco, CA) — PBS’s award-winning, critically heralded weekly series Independent Lens announces its ninth season featuring a unique and diverse group of documentaries that takes viewers from across the street to around the globe, with up close and personal stories featuring unforgettable people. The Emmy Award-winning series runs from October through June and covers the full spectrum of independent film — innovative documentaries, along with dramas, shorts, and animated features. Independents Lens will have its season premiere on PBS on October 19, 2009 (check local listings). 

"We are thrilled with the quality of work that independent producers are bringing to public television — from young, first-time filmmakers to seasoned veterans," says series producer Lois Vossen. "What these filmmakers have to say about our country, our communities, and our quickly-changing world is more important than ever and we’re delighted to bring these films to our expanding audience, which is among the youngest and most diverse of any primetime series on PBS." 

The 2010 fall season kicks off with Meghan Eckman and Christopher Hlad’s droll and quirky The Parking Lot Movie, a brainy Slacker for the post-new millennium. Set in Charlottesville, Virginia, the film follows a unique rite of passage as a select group of overeducated attendants use their gig at the parking lot as an emotional and philosophical way station on the road to their personal American Dream. Then, meet the real mad men (and women) in Doug Pray’s exuberant and inspiring Art & Copy, an inside look at the creative geniuses behind the greatest ad campaigns of the last 50 years. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month in November, Independent Lens presents Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, an amusing, provocative history of Native Americans in cinema, from the silent era to today, from first-time Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond. 

The winter Season begins with a two-night special event — Danny Alpert’s The Calling. Over four hours, the film presents the journeys of a group of extraordinary young Americans from six different faith traditions — Catholic, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Presbyterian — who have decided to enter the clergy. The Calling traces their journeys through studying and training, exhilaration and exhaustion, determination and doubt, through ordination and their first steps as leaders of their faith. 

Highlights for the remainder of the season include two portraits of extraordinary women — Duane Baughman’s Bhutto and Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel’s Pushing the Elephant. As the first woman to lead an Islamic nation, Benazir Bhutto led a life of Shakespearean dimensions. When assassins struck down the former prime minister of Pakistan in December 2007, her untimely death sent shock waves throughout the world, transforming Bhutto from political messiah to a martyr in the hearts of her people. Pushing the Elephant tells the courageous story of Rose Mapendo, who escaped from the ethnic violence of the Democratic Republic of Congo to become a vital voice in the mending of her divided country. 

Building on a system-wide arts programming initiative led by PBS, Independent Lens presents a number of films exploring art, music, and literature. From director Tamra Davis (Billy Madison, Guncrazy) comes Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, the definitive portrait of the New York art world’s enfant terrible who went from graffiti artist to commercial success nearly overnight, only to succumb to death from an overdose in 1988. Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol is a fascinating look at the fantasy world of Mark Hogancamp. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma, Mark builds a small scale World War II-era town with dolls in his upstate New York backyard. Discovered by the downtown art world, Mark must choose between the safety of his fantasy life in Marwencol and the real world he’s avoided since his attack. We catch up with Brazilian artist Vik Muniz (the subject of the 2003 Independent Lens film Worst Possible Illusion: The Curiosity Cabinet of Vik Muniz) in Lucy Walker’s Waste Land, which follows Muniz as he embarks on a new project in a landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, finding stirring evidence of the transformative power of art. Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev’s Desert of Forbidden Art is a sweeping look at decades of Soviet repression of the arts and Igor Savitsky’s one man campaign to rescue the work of a legion of forgotten politically volatile artists. In doing so, he created one of the most important collections of Western art ever amassed. And finally, Yony Leyser’s William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, is an inside look at the life and legacy of the legendary beat generation artist and examines the cultural forces and tragic biographical events that shaped The Naked Lunch author, while tracing the wide range of his influence from punk rock to performance art. 

The Independent Lens experience reaches far beyond broadcast and directly into communities across the country through Community Cinema, a nationwide groundbreaking public education and civic engagement initiative featuring free monthly screenings of films from the Emmy Award-winning series. Community Cinema is on location in more than 50 cities nationally, bringing together leading organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss, and get involved in key social issues of our time. Additionally Independent Lens programs are widely available to classrooms nationwide through Community Classroom, which brings innovative media resources to educators in high schools, community colleges, and other youth-serving organizations. In tandem with Community Cinema, Community Classroom connects educators and students with fresh content, information, resources, and opportunities for learning, engagement, and action. 

For more information about Community Cinema and Community Classroom visit: http://www.itvs.org/engagement 
For more information on Independent Lens and the complete broadcast schedule visit: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens 

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

Posted on August 5, 2010