Independent Lens Celebrates its 10th Season with 30 Unforgettable Documentaries on PBS

Series Moves to Thursday Nights, New Celebrity Host to Be Announced Soon

Fill 54 Created with Sketch. PDF Download

(San Francisco, CA, September 7, 2011) — Independent Lens announced today the launch of its 10th season on PBS featuring a remarkable lineup of 30 films from a broad range of talented independent filmmakers showcasing diverse perspectives not seen anywhere else on television. The Emmy® Award-winning series moves to Thursday nights at 10pm (check local listings)and will premiere on October 13, 2011, with Wham! Bam! Islam!

“In our first 10 years, Independent Lens has brought more than 275 films to PBS,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens senior series producer. “The stories and storytellers we continue to champion make the series the most diverse on television. We feature films that look at the most important issues of our time, as well as audience favorites from film festivals across the country. Our goal is to help viewers better understand today’s complex world by taking them to places they wouldn’t otherwise see, and encounter people they wouldn’t otherwise meet.” 

The fall season opens with a film directed by Isaac Solotaroff, Wham! Bam! Islam!, which explores the rocky road to acceptance and success for the first Islamic-themed comic book series featuring Muslim superheroes. Other documentary features making their premieres include: Donor Unknown, directed by Jerry Rothwell, about a group of young women and men conceived by artificial insemination who set out to discover their biological father and in the process meet their (many) siblings; We Still Live Here — Âs Nutayuneân, directed by Anne Makepeace (presented during Native American Heritage Month), captures the return of the Wampanoag nation’s lost native language, the first time a language with no native speakers has been revived in this country. Additional programming highlights include three documentaries featuring individuals who are facing unique challenges: Lives Worth Living, directed by Eric Neudel, looks at Fred Fay, a man who survived a devastating spinal cord injury when he was only 16, and turned his misfortune into a movement for disabled equality; Deaf Jam, directed by Judy Lieff, focuses on deaf teen Aneta Brodski's discovery of American Sign Language (ASL) poetry, and her bold journey into the spoken word slam scene; and You’re Looking At Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t, directed by Scott Kirschenbaum, challenges our preconceptions of illness and aging through a first person account of Lee Gorewitz’s life inside an Alzheimer’s care home in California. "If I were heading for a desert island with only one complete set of DVDs, I'd be taking Independent Lens,” noted Bill Moyers, American journalist and public commentator. “There's no more authentic way to stay in touch with real people and life as it is. I never feel alone in the world when I'm watching an episode, even if I'm by myself." 

The fall/winter season wraps with Have You Heard From Johannesburg from acclaimed director Connie Field. This landmark, five-hour, three-night miniseries premieres on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress and weaves together the fascinating story of the global movement that took on South Africa’s Apartheid regime and ended one of the greatest governmental injustices the world has ever known. Following three generations of the struggle as the anti-Apartheid fight is waged in sports arenas and cathedrals, in embassies and corporate boardrooms, at rock concerts and in supermarkets both in South Africa and around the globe, Have You Heard from Johannesburg is a monumental and inspiring achievement. 

“The programs featured in the first half the season barely skim the surface of the great programming we have in store for viewers this year,” added Vossen. “The second half of the season will present heartbreaking and inspiring stories about the black experience in honor of Black History Month and feature programs from the newly launched ITVS initiative Women and Girls Lead that aim to educate people about the struggles women face around the world. These documentaries provide a window into a world we would normally never have access to in hopes of sparking meaningful social change.” 

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing 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 unique individuals, communities, and moments in history. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 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. 

Voleine Amilcar, ITVS, 415-356-8383 x 244,
Mary Lugo, 770-623-8190,
Cara White, 843-881-1480, 

For downloadable images, visit

Posted on September 7, 2011