Independent Lens Announces Fall 2004 Season

From Dr. Seuss to Girl Wrestlers to The Ramones, From Kabul to Los Angeles to Bombay, New Season Offers Another Slate of Provocative, Original, Entertaining Independent Films



Mary Lugo at 770/623-8190/ 

Cara White at 843/881-1480/ 

Randall Cole at 415/356-8383 X 254/ 

(San Francisco, CA) The Independent Television Service (ITVS) today announced the lineup for the Fall 2004 season of as well as highlights from the upcoming Spring 2005 season. The critically acclaimed series, which airs nationally on PBS stations on Tuesdays at 10 P.M., will once again present its unique mix of the best new American and international documentaries and features. From Michael Gramaglia and Jim Field's eagerly-awaited END OF THE CENTURY: THE RAMONES to Ramona Diaz's acclaimed Sundance hit IMELDA, the 2004/2005 season proves once again that Independent Lens is the ultimate place to see the films that inspire, provoke, amuse, motivate, and move us. 

The Fall season begin on Tuesday, October 26th with the world premiere of Ron Lamothe's THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS. Airing as part of the 100th anniversary of Seuss's birth, the film is a fascinating, in-depth look at the life and work of the enigmatic Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. The film illuminates the personal side of the very private Geisel, both an idealist and a curmudgeon, who spent his life trying to improve a society he knew was inherently flawed. As the film reveals, this master of what he termed "logical insanity” devoted much of his considerable talent and influence to effecting political and social change: condemning isolationism; warning about Hitler; attacking anti-Semitism; working for literacy; fighting for the environment; and ridiculing the arms race. Like a true Seuss tale, THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS is entertaining and enlightening. 

Airing on November 9th is Lisa Blackstone's POLKA TIME, an inside look at the world of polka. "Meet numerous "polka people” and performers at the annual Gibbon, Minnesota Polka Fest as they demonstrate their love and hope for the future of polka through dance, music, personal stories and observations. Airing on November 16th is AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED, an insider's look at the lives of several Afghan women following the fall of the Taliban. The film is the product of a unique program established in Kabul that trains young women in filmmaking and journalism. Armed with cameras, these teams of young women – most of whom spent their youth confined to their homes under the Taliban's reign – traveled to remote outposts of their war-ravaged country, talking to women and recording their unfolding history. What emerges is a remarkable look at the life of Afghan women, told by a talented group of new young journalists. 

Also airing in November is another insider's view of their home – Phillip Rodriguez's LOS ANGELES NOW. Shot in high-definition, the film is a visually-stunning, thought-provoking chronicle of L.A.'s transformation from a bucolic, Anglo small-town into one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Featuring interviews with a wide variety of Los Angelenos, including Phil Jackson and Salma Hayek, LOS ANGELES NOW, airing on November 23rd, examines the rapid-fire changes that are transforming not only L.A. but countless American cities from coast to coast. 

Airing on November 30th is Andrew Levine's powerful THE DAY MY GOD DIED, a heart-wrenching documentary that tells the stories of Nepalese girls swept up by the international child sex trade. In their own words, we hear about the day traffickers took each of them from their rural villages and sold them into sexual servitude in the brothels of India – a day the girls describe as "the day my God died.” Co-produced by Winona Ryder and narrated by Tim Robbins, the film offers an unforgettable look at the corruption and horror behind the curtain of India's sex industry, providing us with a brief glimpse into a world seldom seen by outsiders, one that is also much closer to home than we might want to admit. '

On December 14th, Diane Zander's GIRL WRESTLER, offers a portrait of Texas teenager Tara Neal's efforts to compete in a sport not traditionally hospitable to women. The film shows the affects of debates around Title IX and chronicles her last year in which state guidelines allow her to wrestle boys. December also brings two programs of short films – two fiction films, Michael Downing's FINE and Chris Eska's DOKI-DOKI, air on December 21st, and Independent Lens presents its second annual New Year's week short films night, SHORT, NOT SWEET, on December 28th. 

Says series executive producer Lois Vossen, "This season features our strongest, most exciting lineup to date. As we've always said, Independent Lens really is a film festival in your living room – the most cutting-edge films, and you get to wear your slippers! The year's lineup features up-close looks at some of the most fascinating people of the century – from Dr. Seuss to Imelda Marcos to the Ramones – and takes us from the caves of Afghanistan to the neon of Sunset Boulevard to the brothels of Bombay. Independent films, particularly documentaries, are experiencing a renaissance, in theatres and on TV, and Independent Lens has become the place to see the films people are talking about, the films that are changing the way we view our lives and our world.” 

Other films coming next Spring include two films that wowed both audiences and critics at the recent Sundance Film Festival – Rodney Evans' BROTHER TO BROTHER, a drama that won the Special Jury Prize, and David Petersen's LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN, a documentary about a storefront church in Washington, DC. 

Other highlights include famed documentarian Frederick Wiseman's first dramatic film, THE LAST LETTER; SUNSET STORY, which follows two aging women living in an L.A. retirement home for political progressives; and A TOUCH OF GREATNESS, a portrait of maverick teacher Albert Cullum. Continuing our tradition of exploring the infinite variety of musical expression, our new season features Yvonne Smith's irresistible PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC: ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE; KEEPING TIME: THE LIFE, MUSIC & PHOTOGRAPHS OF MILT HINTON, about the legendary jazz bassist; and A LION'S TRAIL, which explains how a tune written by a poor Zulu farmer became the international hit known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” 

Our recently concluded Fall 2003/Spring 2004 season proved to be a banner year for Independent Lens. Highlights included the broadcast of the landmark documentary miniseries THE NEW AMERICANS, which The New York Times called "Totally engrossing. . . illuminating and effortlessly beautiful.” Other highlights included Tracy Tragos's elegy for her father, BE GOOD, SMILE PRETTY, which received the Presidents Award for Excellence in Documentary Film, the highest award from the Vietnams Veterans of America Association, and was recently screened on Capitol Hill; and Sam Green and Bill Siegel's THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND, which was nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Feature Documentary. Our popular series website ( was visited by over 1.3 million different viewers; we'll soon be announcing the winner of our second annual Audience Award Winner, elected by visitors to the site. 

Stay tuned for more complete details on our Spring 2005 schedule; full information on the Fall 2004 season follows. If you'd like screeners or more information on any of our Fall titles, feel free to contact us and visit 


Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. 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, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent like going into an independent bookstore-you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. 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. 


Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. 


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THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS Ron Lamothe October 26 at 10 P.M. Most Americans don't know that Dr. Seuss (1904–1991) drew editorial cartoons for a left-wing New York newspaper during World War II. How many of his readers know that Yertle the Turtle was modeled on Hitler or that Horton Hears a Who is a parable about postwar Japan? This film explores a little-known side of Dr. Seuss and his works. 

POLKA TIME Lisa Blackstone November 9 at 10:30 P.M. Each July for more than 30 years, polka lovers from around the United States have descended on the tiny rural town of Gibbon, Minnesota for the Gibbon Polka Fest. Meet numerous "polka people” and performers as they demonstrate their love and hope for the future of polka through dance, music, personal stories and observations. 

AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED Brigitte Brault and the AINA Women's Filming Group November 16 at 10 P.M. Filmed by the first-ever team of women video journalists trained in Afghanistan, this uncompromising film reveals the effects on Afghan women of the Taliban's repressive rule and of the U.S.-sponsored bombing campaign. Leaving Kabul for the first time and traveling to rural regions of the country, the filmmakers present footage of women whose lives have been decimated by recent events. 

LOS ANGELES NOW Phillip Rodriguez Co-presentation with LPB and KPBS/San Diego, CA November 23 at 10 P.M. Once an empty, bucolic space, Los Angeles is now a disorienting megalopolis. And once the whitest city in America, Los Angeles is now the most multicultural city in the world. What is the future of this rapidly changing city? LOS ANGELES NOW looks beyond Baywatch and Blade Runner to create a fresh, candid portrait of America's second-largest city. 

THE DAY MY GOD DIED Andrew Levine November 30 at 10 P.M. Young girls whose lives were shattered by the child sex trade describe the day they were abducted from their villages as "the day my god died.” By weaving footage from the brothels of Bombay with these girls' stories, Levine offers an unforgettable examination of the growing plague of child sex slavery. 

FINE Michael Downing December 14 at 10 P.M. (with DOKI-DOKI) When factory worker Ed is confronted by a co-worker's pressing question over lunch, he begins to question his own decisions and his current life as a husband, father and suburbanite. DOKI-DOKI Chris Eska December 14 at 10:30 P.M. (with FINE) In suburban Tokyo, Yumi finds herself waiting every day with the same group of strangers for the same seat on the same train. Who are these fellow commuters? Where do they live? What are they like? One day, she decides to find out. 

GIRL WRESTLER Diane Zander December 21 at 10 P.M. Texas teenager Tara Neal insists that girls and boys should be able to wrestle on the same mat. Follow Neal through the last year in which state guidelines allow her to wrestle boys. It's a year filled with family conflict, pressure to cut weight and fierce policy debates over Title IX, which grants women's athletics proportionality in public schools. 

SHORT, NOT SWEET Rob Slane, Timothy Greenberg, Michael Fukushima, Louise Johnson, David Verrall, Ezra Krybus and Jamie Travis December 28 at 10 P.M. Independent Lens offers a night of six short films, including Fine Line Between Cute and Creepy by Rob Slane; La Puppe by Timothy Greenberg; A Monster's Calling by Michael Fukushima, Louise Johnson and David Verrall; The School by Ezra Krybus; Why the Anderson Children Didn't Come to Dinner by Jamie Travis; and a final short TBA.

Posted on June 21, 2004