Emmy® Award–Winning PBS Series Independent Lens Returns With a Treasury of Acclaimed Indie Docs and Features

From the personal to the political, Independent Lens presents a powerful mix of entertaining and soul-searching stories

New season to feature official Sundance selections YOUNG@HEART, DIRT! The Movie and THE HORSE BOY

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(San Francisco, CA)—The four-time Emmy® Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens returns this fall with a powerhouse selection of 27 independent films that bring a unique collection of stories unlike anything else on television. From a vast array of settings—including a cramped New York City apartment filled with a mind-blowing collection of modern art; the world’s largest garbage village in the outskirts of Cairo; the hills of Mongolia, where a Texas family seeks an unconventional treatment for their son’s autism; and Butte, Montana, where five generations intersect with key historical events—Independent Lens spans the country and circles the globe, showcasing wildly diverse documentaries about unforgettable people and places. Independent Lens will have its season premiere on PBS on October 13, 2009 (check local listings). 

The series kicks off with Megumi Sasaki’s acclaimed and endearing documentary HERB AND DOROTHY, about a postal worker and his librarian wife whose passion led them to create one of the most priceless collections of contemporary art in the world. The more practical side of art is explored in OBJECTIFIED, an inside look at the world of product design, by acclaimed director Gary Hustwit (HELVETICA). 

In BETWEEN THE FOLDS, directed by Vanessa Gould, a determined group of theoretical scientists and fine artists have abandoned careers and scoffed at their graduate degrees to forge new lives as modern-day paper folders. Together they reinterpret and bring new meaning to the ancient art of origami, creating a wild mix of sensibilities toward art, science, creativity and meaning. NO SUBTITLES NECESSARY: Laszlo & Vilmos, directed by James Chressenthis, makes cinematic history with the story of trailblazing cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, who transformed American cinema in the 1960s and 1970s with groundbreaking films like Easy Rider, Deliverance and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

As America seeks to re-engage the world, Independent Lens continues to transcend borders with international documentaries that take viewers into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people around the world. BEHIND THE RAINBOW offers an in-depth look at the political struggles of South Africa, and GARBAGE DREAMS follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade in the world’s largest “garbage village,” outside Cairo, as they are forced to make choices that will impact the survival of their community. 

UNMISTAKEN CHILD follows a Tibetan monk’s search for the reincarnation of his beloved teacher, and PROJECT KASHMIR, filmed by two young American women—one Muslim, the other Hindu—explores what makes people choose their homeland over preserving their own lives. JOURNALS OF A WILY SCHOOL takes viewers inside a school for pickpockets in Kolkata, India, presenting a real-life story of survival on the streets of India. 

Also this season, against the backdrop of a national debate on education policy, Independent Lens visits two extraordinary schools that could not be more different: the Texas School for the Blind in Keith Maitland’s THE EYES OF ME and a new charter school in the Bronx in Christopher Wong’s WHATEVER IT TAKES. 

The bonds of family are explored in three intimate and personal documentaries: LOST SOULS, filmmaker Monika Navarro’s heartfelt portrait of her troubled Mexican American family; THE HORSE BOY, a 2009 official Sundance selection that features a Texas family’s unorthodox journey to Mongolia to find help for their severely autistic son; and Karen Skloss’s SUNSHINE, a poignant meditation on unplanned pregnancy and single motherhood told through her own story. 

In January, Independent Lens will present three lively documentaries about music: Stephen Walker’s box-office hit YOUNG@HEART, about a chorus composed of senior citizens from New England who sell out concert halls with their original takes on songs by contemporary artists ranging from The Clash to Coldplay; COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS, which examines the debate about musical sampling in hip-hop and beyond; and P STAR RISING, about the coming-of-age story of a precocious 9-year-old rapper from a struggling family in Harlem. 

Independent Lens will also showcase two powerful films that continue to shed light on the lives devastated by Hurricane Katrina. MINE tells the heartbreaking story of the animals left behind and the struggles of hurricane victims to reunite with their beloved pets. A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES takes viewers to an insular community of Vietnamese refugees in east New Orleans, showing how the devastation of Katrina strengthened the community members’ bonds with each other and with the city they call home. 

Other highlights include 2009 Sundance selection DIRT! The Movie, a wonder-filled look at this seemingly ordinary, if ubiquitous substance; POWER PATHS, an inspiring film about Native American communities creating new ways to produce clean power; BUTTE, AMERICA, the wrenching story of the rise and fall of Montana’s once-thriving copper mining mecca; HERSKOVITS AT THE HEART OF BLACKNESS, about the controversial Jewish anthropologist whose work challenged widely held assumptions about race and culture; D TOUR, a self-described “rock ’n’ roll film about life, death and bodily functions” that chronicles indie pop rocker Pat Spurgeon’s struggle with kidney failure; and BLESSED IS THE MATCH, the amazing true story of Hannah Senesh, the World War II–era poet and diarist who became a paratrooper, resistance fighter and modern-day Joan of Arc. 

The season concludes in June 2010 with the narrative feature film GOODBYE SOLO, by Ramin Bahrani. Heralded as “a great American film” by Roger Ebert, GOODBYE SOLO tells the story of a Senegalese taxi driver in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who befriends an elderly white man bent on suicide. 

For more information on the series visit: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens. 

CONTACT: Voleine Amilcar, 415-356-8383 x 244, voleine_amilcar@itvs.org Mary Lugo, 770-623-8190, lugo@negia.net Cara White, 843-881-1480, cara.white@mac.com

Posted on July 30, 2009