(San Francisco, CA) – Independent Lens launches its 12th season on PBS with a lineup of 23 remarkable documentaries from both new and established filmmakers. Stanley Tucci returns as the series host. The season opener on Monday, September 30 is Ramona Diaz’s acclaimed Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, a real life rock and roll fairy tale about Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the frontman for the iconic American rock band Journey. Following on Monday, October 21 is The Waiting Room, directed by Peter Nicks, which examines the current state of public health, told through 24 hours in an Oakland, California hospital waiting room stretched to the breaking point. Both films are part of the first-ever PBS INDIES SHOWCASE.
“The challenge for so many first-rate documentary filmmakers is getting their important stories not only told, but out there to the world,” said Lois Vossen, Senior Series Producer. “ Independent Lens is proud to be a tradition that gets these diverse voices heard.”
On October 28 and November 4, Independent Lens continues with The Graduates / Los Graduados , a two-part special by filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz that profiles six remarkable students who are challenging the Latino dropout crisis.
Premiering in November are two films that explore the rich complexity of modern Native American life. Indian Relay (November 18) explores one of the world’s most exciting and dangerous forms of horseracing, while Young Lakota follows the political awakening of a young woman on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation when the first female president of the tribe challenges the state’s proposed ban on abortion.
Additional fall films explore the creative process as exemplified through two widely divergent examples: Playwright: From Page to Stage takes viewers behind the curtain to see the intense collaboration involved in the process of crafting new plays, while Jiro Dreams of Sushi profiles one of the world’s greatest sushi chefs, who practices his art in a Tokyo subway station restaurant that seats only 10 customers.
In addition to The Waiting Room, health issues are also examined in How to Survive a Plague, David France’s powerful Academy Award-nominated documentary about the two activist groups who helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
The Independent Lens fall lineup through the end of the year is below:
Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey by Ramona Diaz
Monday, September 30, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
Follow the real life rock and roll fairy tale of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the frontman for the iconic American rock band Journey. In this Cinderella story for the ages, Arnel, having overcome a lifetime’s worth of hardships, must now navigate the immense pressures of replacing a legendary singer and leading a world-renowned band on their most extensive world tour in years.
The Waiting Room by Peter Nicks
Monday, October 21, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
The Waiting Room is an immersive documentary interweaving several stories that unfold in surprising ways in the ER waiting room at Oakland, California’s Highland Hospital — a facility stretched to the breaking point. Telling the story of our health care system at a moment of great change through the eyes of people stuck — sometimes for up to 14 hours — in the waiting room, the film reveals a remarkably diverse population battling their way through seismic shifts in the nation’s health care system while weathering the storm of a national recession.
The Graduates/Los Graduados by Bernardo Ruiz
An eye-opening introduction to some of the determined and resilient young people who will shape America’s future, The Graduates/Los Graduados explores the 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.
Monday, October 28, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Episode 1 - Girls
Through the stories of three remarkable young women, this episode looks at the special challenges faced by many Latina students, including teen pregnancy, poor schools, and poverty.
Monday, November 4, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Episode 2 - Boys
This episode profiles three young Latinos who, through the help of family, friends, and community organizations, have overcome tremendous obstacles — including gang pressure and immigrations status — on the road to completing their education.
Indian Relay by Charles Dye
Monday, November 18, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
The hope and determination of contemporary American Indian life is revealed in this story about what it takes to win the most dangerous form of horseracing practiced anywhere in the world today. Indian Relay follows teams from three different Native American communities as they prepare for and compete across a grueling relay season — all hearts set on the glory and honor of winning the National Championship.
Young Lakota by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt
Monday, November 25, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Three young people living in the Pine Ridge Reservation try to forge a better future. When the first female President of Oglala Lakota defies a South Dakota law criminalizing abortion by vowing to build a women's clinic in their sovereign territory, the three young tribe members are faced with difficult choices.
Playwright: From Page to Stage by Robert Levi
Monday, December 16, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
The lives of two outstanding young playwrights — an African American from Miami’s inner city and an Indian American from Cleveland — are brought together inextricably in the process of creating a new language for the stage.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi by David Gelb
Monday, December 23, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
Eighty-five-year-old Jiro Ono, considered the world’s greatest sushi chef, is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearance, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make pilgrimages. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection.
How to Survive a Plague by David France
Monday, December 30, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
This acclaimed film tells the story of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), two groups whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these determined activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry to help identify promising new drugs, and move them from experimental trials to patients. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage, the film reveals the controversial actions, heated meetings, heartbreaking failures, and exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.
Highlights of the upcoming winter/spring season include At Berkeley , the latest film from legendary documentarian Fredrick Wiseman; Samantha Grant’s A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times ; Dan Krauss’s The Kill Team , the story of an American soldier who attempted to thwart U.S. war crimes even more heinous than Abu Ghraib and who was then charged with premeditated murder; Greg “Freddy” Camalier’s Muscle Shoals , about the Alabama musical mecca; and Bill Siegel’s The Trials of Muhammad Ali , which explores Ali’s battle to overturn the five-year prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. The complete spring 2014 schedule will be announced at a later date.
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 www.pbs.org/independentlens. Join Independent Lens on Facebook at www.facebook.com/independentlens.