ITVS Celebrates Milestone 15th Anniversary of Service to Independent Filmmakers

Television's Independent Voice turns 15 with over 600 groundbreaking films under its belt...and counting.

Major party at Sundance launches year-long series of events—[Press Coverage invited and encouraged – Monday, Jan 23, 8 PM - midnight]

CONTACT: Randall Cole, ITVS, 415.356.8383 ext. 254, 

Tiffany Woolf, ITVS, 415.356.8383 ext. 250, 

Desiree Gutierrez, 415-356-8383, ext. 244, 

AT SUNDANCE: Randall Cole, 415.425.3050 (cell) 

Tiffany Woolf, 917.532.3366 (cell) 

Desiree Gutierrez, 310-753-8503 (cell) 

(San Francisco) Fifteen years ago, a small group of visionaries set up offices in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a dream—years in the making—came true. 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 support underserved audiences. 

ITVS was a miracle of public policy and citizen advocacy at its inception in 1991, and fifteen years later the organization, which has since relocated to San Francisco, has become the leading source of independently produced programs on U.S public television. Since its humble beginnings, ITVS has created and presented over 600 independently produced films that explore complex issues, represent diverse communities and express points of view seldom seen on television. 

With numerous award-winning programs and accolades including eight National Emmy Awards, seven Peabody Awards, fifteen Sundance Awards, four Academy Award nominations and fourteen National Emmy Award nominations, ITVS is celebrating and commemorating the growth and success of the organization that began as a big idea by a small group of passionate people. 

One of the most significant developments at ITVS was the launch of Independent Lens in January 2003. The Emmy Award-winning weekly series, which is co-produced and presented by ITVS and PBS, offers a weekly platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work to a national audience. Now in its fourth season, Independent Lens provides an expanded footprint for independent filmmakers on PBS. And the evolution of ITVS continues. 

In 2005, ITVS made history again with the launch of ITVS International, an unprecedented initiative which opens up an exchange between the United States and other nations through compelling documentaries which provide insight into other people, cultures and points of view. Through ITVS International and its new International Media Development Fund (IMDF), independent filmmakers from countries outside the U.S. have the opportunity to showcase their programs nationally on U.S. television. From the other direction, through True Stories: Life in the USA, a new documentary series premiering in early 2006, ITVS programs by U.S. producers will be broadcast abroad. Currently the series is planned to air in three countries—Egypt, Malawi and Peru. 

“When ITVS first opened for business in 1991, independents were just trying to break into the film community,” said Sally Jo Fifer, president and CEO of ITVS. “Nowadays, independent filmmakers clean up at the Emmy Awards, and Hollywood swarms Sundance. Documentary and independent film have sparked new interest in “real people” on the big and small screen. As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we are proud that ITVS has been a part of this evolution in independent storytelling—and now with our international programming and support for independents working in interactive media, we are excited about working with new voices and reaching even wider audiences in the years to come.” 

ITVS Anniversary Events Over the coming year, ITVS will present special events, programs and panels throughout the country to celebrate the organization's fifteen-year anniversary and to present ITVS's expanded services and programs to meet the ever-evolving needs of independent filmmakers. The first event is scheduled to take place at one of the world's Meccas for independent film–the Sundance Film Festival. The invitation-only party will highlight ITVS's productions over the last 15 years, and encourage also international filmmakers to apply for ITVS's new international funding initiative. Press coverage is invited, and details will follow in a separate media advisory. 

The Present and the Future–A new model of service ITVS continues to grow and adapt in order to respond to the current and developing needs of independent filmmakers—now both in the United States and internationally. While reaffirming a commitment to the organization's mission of addressing the needs of underserved communities as the organization moves into the next 15 years, ITVS is refining the structure of its services to a four-pillar model including: 

ITVS Productions: Funding & Services ITVS helps independent filmmakers navigate the maze of producing for broadcast and beyond. A bridge between independent producers and public and commercial broadcasters, ITVS offers funding as well as a broad range of services, including production management, ongoing support and feedback throughout the production and general oversight to ensure that all programs meet the broadcaster's exacting standards. ITVS has many initiatives for independent filmmakers to apply for funding, and all applications and more information is available online at 

ITVS Interactive Television isn't the only way that ITVS brings inspiring, original stories to the public. ITVS Interactive harnesses the power of the Web to extend and enrich the viewer's experience beyond the TV screen. ITVS Interactive produces in-depth companion websites and other award-winning online content to showcase nonlinear (Web original) storytelling and ensure that diverse stories live well beyond broadcast. ITVS is also launching an online short film contest in spring 2006, with the grand prizewinner receiving a cash prize and a national broadcast on Independent Lens. All of these projects can be found online at 

ITVS Communications ITVS Communications works to ensure that each ITVS program reaches the widest and most relevant audience. One key element of this pillar is ITVS Community Campaigns, which creates and executes multi-dimensional community engagement campaigns to connect community groups and individuals to program content. Another main component is the recently launched ITVS Community Cinema, a monthly screening series which highlights select Independent Lens films in key markets around the United States. These services are complemented by strategic promotional campaigns and station relations activities to help secure the best broadcasts possible on behalf of the ITVS productions. 

ITVS International The newest of ITVS's initiatives, ITVS International promotes cultural exchange and understanding by bringing compelling international stories to U.S. audiences while showcasing the best of American independent programming to the world. The International Media Development Fund (IMDF) is an innovative funding initiative of ITVS International designed to showcase international documentaries for U.S. television audiences eager to deepen their understanding of global issues, events and points of view. Through IMDF, independent filmmakers from outside the United States can share their unique stories and perspectives with U.S. audiences. ITVS premieres these funded programs on U.S. public, cable and commercial television. From the other direction, ITVS brings the best in U.S. documentaries to international audiences through its True Stories: Life in the USA series, which is currently broadcast in three countries with more countries to follow soon. 

About ITVS Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 PM 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 ITVS's inception in 1991, its programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing television 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 (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people.

Posted on January 18, 2006