(San Francisco, CA)—If you travel through Maine and leave behind the familiar coast of idyllic summer vacations, you find yourself in a different Maine, the Maine of fields, farms, work and dirt. It’s a place most tourists never see—it is, as the locals say, the real Maine. Winner of the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary, KNEE DEEP is a true-crime tale as strange and fascinating as anything the Coen brothers could dream up. The film will have its broadcast premiere on the Emmy® Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, November 6, 2008, at 10pm (check local listings).
The real Maine is where Josh Osborne was raised, on his family’s third-generation dairy farm in Farmington, with his mother, father and two sisters. Pulled out of school in the sixth grade to work the farm, Josh’s horizons were no wider than the boundaries of the farm—he would get lost on the five-mile trip to town. John’s life was one of long hours and hard labor. As an uncle says, “Once your ass hits the tractor seat, those days are just as long as a full-grown man’s.” John worked on the farm every day for a dozen years with the promise that it would someday all be his.
But things didn’t turn out that way. Which is why, on a beautiful summer’s day, this 22-year-old farm boy found himself aiming a rifle at his mother. Drawing from vérité footage, home movies, interviews, police tapes, crime scene videos, love letters and re creations, KNEE DEEP asks the question: Why would a son try to kill his mother? The answers are surprisingly tragic and comic.
To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the companion website for KNEE DEEP at pbs.org/independentlens/kneedeep/. Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions.
Josh Osborne – He worked every day of his life on the Osborne farm, but was arrested for shooting his mother when she sold the family homestead.
Donna Enman – Josh’s new girlfriend was arrested with him for attempted murder.
Andrew Robinson – The Franklin County assistant district attorney struggled with proving a case against Josh and Donna once they began implicating each other.
Jeffrey Jackson – Josh’s older cousin worked on the farm for years and offers a bird’s-eye view of the Osborne family’s strife.
Julie Harmatys – Josh’s sister tries to reconcile an unhappy childhood with the loss of the farm.
Michael Chandler, Producer/Director is an Academy Award–nominated filmmaker, working in nonfiction and fiction film. Michael’s film Forgotten Fires, on the burning by Ku Klux Klansmen of black churches in South Carolina, aired on more than 250 PBS stations. It has won critical acclaim and numerous awards. Michael has also produced and directed documentaries for the PBS series Frontline. Blackout, a co-production with The New York Times, looked at the roots and repercussions of the California energy crisis and was the first program to expose Enron’s financial manipulation of energy markets. The Future of War, an examination of the U.S. Army’s ability to meet emerging global military threats, won a Silver Plaque Award for Investigative Reporting from the Chicago International Television Competition. Secrets of the SAT dealt with the impact of standardized testing in college admissions and won First Prize in Broadcast Journalism from the Education Writer’s Association. Chandler also wrote and edited the documentary feature Freedom on My Mind, which chronicled the voting rights struggle in Mississippi during the 1960s. The film earned an Academy Award nomination and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. He also wrote and edited the Academy Award–nominated Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey, the Emmy Award–winning Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven and ABC’s Can’t It Be Anyone Else? for which he received the Christopher Humanitarian Award. He has also edited feature films, including Never Cry Wolf, Mishima and Amadeus, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Sheila Canavan, Producer is a nationally known attorney in consumer law and predatory lending fraud, specializing in financial abuse of the elderly. She has just completed a three-year term on the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council, which advises the board on its responsibilities under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Her film credits include Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey and Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven.
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 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. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens.
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