Independent Lens Launches New Season of Community Cinema in More than 100 Towns and Cities Across the County

Six Documentaries Featured in 2013-14 Season As Well As Online Social Screenings Through Innovative OVEE Platform

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(San Francisco, CA) – Independent Lens announced today that Community Cinema, the largest community engagement program in public television, will launch its 2013-14 season in September, with six documentaries from the award-winning PBS series. In collaboration with more than 750 partners nationwide, Community Cinema brings more than 50,000 participants to over 1,000 community events each year. 

Community Cinema will launch its ninth season with bilingual English-Spanish screenings of The Graduates/Los Graduados, a new two-part special from filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz (Reportero). An eye-opening introduction to some of the determined and resilient young people who will shape America’s future, the film explores the many roots of the Latino dropout crisis through the eyes of six inspiring young students who are part of an ongoing effort to increase graduation rates for a growing Latino population. Events will bring students, families, educators and community leaders together to discuss challenges and solutions for student success. In many cities resource fairs will be offered to help mentorship, after school and other programs reach underserved communities. The Graduates/Los Graduados premieres on Independent Lens on two consecutive Mondays, October 28, 2013 and November 4, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). 

"This season’s films present an array of issues that will strike a chord with every American: education, immigration, civil rights, a struggling economy,” said Chi Do, Director of Engagement & Education for ITVS. “The challenge that we are embracing this season is to craft experiences through our events that will instill a sense of hope around issues that may seem insurmountable, to inspire continued dialogue and action. We’ll design activities that go beyond panel discussions to get people immersed and invested in addressing these issues locally.” 

In addition to in-person screening events, Community Cinema will expand this year to the online space through OVEE, a social video platform developed exclusively for public television stations. Funded by CPB and developed by ITVS, OVEE includes numerous real-time interactive features to create a live screening experience online and provides filmmakers the opportunity to engage even wider audiences in conversation and action around their content. Weekly online screenings on OVEE will kick off October 1 with the crowd-pleasing Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, directed by Ramona Diaz. 

“Community Cinema is a program that dares to be different. Our partners take you far beyond the typical film screening by offering activities that create a shared experience of learning and discovery,” said Do. “By expanding our notion of the public square to include online spaces utilizing OVEE, the local town hall format of many of our in-person events can now be translated into a national online dialogue where the person ‘sitting’ next to you could be 50 feet or 500 miles away. The connections will not be any less meaningful; participants have bared their souls and traded contact information on these online events in much the same way they do at an in-person event.” 

In addition to The Graduates, the five other films selected to be part of the 2013-14 Community Cinema season are: 

The State of Arizona by Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini
The battle over illegal immigration in Arizona that came to a head with Senate Bill 1070 frames this riveting documentary that tracks multiple perspectives — activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ranchers, and others — as America eyes the result. 

Las Marthas by Cristina Ibarra & Erin Ploss-Campoamor
Dating from the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas is unlike any other. Las Marthas follows two Mexican American girls carrying this gilded tradition on their shoulders during a time of economic uncertainty and tension over immigration. 

The Trials of Muhammad Ali by Bill Siegel
A story of the famed boxer’s toughest bout of all: his battle to overturn the prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. The film explores Ali’s exile years when he was banned from boxing and found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning race, religion, and wartime dissent. 

Medora by Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart
A once-booming community beset by a crippled economy and a dwindling population is the setting for this documentary following a down-but-not-out varsity basketball team over a season. The team’s struggle to compete parallels the town’s own fight for survival. 

The New Black by Yvonne Welbon
Centering on the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland, The New Black takes viewers into the pews, the streets, and kitchen tables as it looks at how the African American community grapples with the divisive gay rights issue. 

About Community Cinema 
Community Cinema is a national civic engagement initiative featuring free screenings of films from the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. Presented by ITVS in partnership with local public television stations and community organizations, these in-person events and online social screenings bring community members together to learn, discuss, and get involved in key social issues of our time. Building on ITVS’s 20-year legacy of innovation in community engagement, Community Cinema and ITVS’s complimentary educational program, Community Classroom, make public broadcasting a powerful resource for individuals, educators, communities, and organizations. For a complete lineup or more information about the Community Cinema series visit: 

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The senior series producer is Lois Vossen. More information at Join Independent Lens on Facebook at

Posted on September 30, 2013