The prestigious Peabody Awards, now in its 76th year of recognizing the best in storytelling in electronic media, has announced ITVS as this year's recipient of the Peabody Institutional Award. The award will be given out at the Peabody Awards gala event on May 20 in New York City, which will be taped for a television special to air on both PBS and FUSION networks on Friday, June 2 (9 p.m. ET/PT).
In bestowing this honor, the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors wrote:
"If any organization can claim a foundational place in the flourishing of documentary film over the past generation, it is the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Conceived by independent filmmakers who saw a paucity of diversity in public media, ITVS was formed by Congress in 1988. Since then ITVS has had a broad transformative impact on the media landscape, particularly in public media. With more than 1,400 films funded and a staggering 32 Peabody Awards, ITVS’ output represents an accomplished range of work as rich as any broadcaster or funder. Landmark films within the Peabody canon include: How to Survive a Plague by David France; Marco Williams and Whitney Dow’s Two Towns of Jasper; Leslee Udwin’s Udwin’s India’s Daughter; and The Invisible War by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. These works remain as relevant today as when they were initially broadcast and have made an impact that is impossible to measure. At a time when public media is under political attack, there is no better time to recognize the vital contributions to public discourse and knowledge than that provided by ITVS."
“We are honored the Peabody board of jurors selected ITVS as the sole winner this year of its Institutional Award,” said Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS. “This news is joyous for our board and staff, our funders, and our independent filmmakers. We also realize how important this award is to communities all over the country whose authentic and compelling stories have been illuminated by the talented filmmakers who tell them."
"For more than 25 years, through our Congressional mandate, we have served as an incubator for filmmakers and an engine for independent voice thanks to unyielding support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and from PBS, which helps us make these stories accessible to all Americans."
"It doesn't matter whether it's your first film or your 15th, documentary filmmaking is hard," adds Noland Walker, ITVS Senior Content Director. "Particularly hard if you're trying to capture something unique and profound about the way life is or could be. The people at ITVS know this, and I think this tremendous honor by the Peabodys acknowledges our work in this area. We know that, yes, films are made by individuals but shaped by cohorts and communities. We know that filmmakers typically live in New York or LA or Boston but they come from Kentucky and Texas, Ohio, Maine, Florida, and everywhere there are people who want to engage with the world. Yes, we support and help develop films, but we also support and help develop the people who make the films."
Past Peabody Institutional Award winners include BBC, NPR, Smithsonian, WGBH, Voice of America, and The Daily Show.
ITVS is also in good company this year as the winner of the Peabody Individual Award is the revolutionary television producer and writer Norman Lear (father of filmmaker Ben Lear, whose film They Call Us Monsters premieres on the ITVS-produced PBS series Independent Lens in May).
In addition to receiving the institutional Peabody Award, ITVS recently learned that five of our funded films were named Peabody finalists this year, among 60 works (out of 1,200 entries) that represent the most compelling and empowering stories released in electronic media during 2016:
- Independent Lens: The Armor of Light: A conservative, Evangelical minister questions his long-held assumptions about guns and gun ownership.
- Independent Lens: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: A history of The Black Panthers and the socioeconomic and racial justice issues the group tackled.
- Independent Lens: Trapped: A look at the motivation and politics surrounding “TRAP” laws, specifically designed to restrict access to abortion providers.
- POV: The Return: An examination of California prisoners suddenly freed and their adjustment to life on the outside.
- POV: What Tomorrow Brings: A film about girls coming of age and struggling to find their way in a violent, uncertain Afghanistan.
The Peabody Board of Jurors is made up of an esteemed panel of journalists, media producers, professors, and advisors.
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