Independent Lens

INDEPENDENT LENS
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

 

This is the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph, and dozens of others, the film is a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that gave rise to a new revolutionary culture in America.

 

 

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ continues James Baldwin’s legacy

By Katie Moritz

 

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Medgar Evers hold hallowed places in the United States’ civil rights history. But one man, whose name likely didn’t appear in your history book, provides a thread that binds their three stories together.

 

INDEPENDENT LENS: I Am Not Your Negro
Author and activist James Baldwin, center, whose unfinished manuscript spawned “I Am Not Your Negro.”

 

James Baldwin was a black, gay writer whose novels and essays documented and explained the civil rights movement and the realities of black life in a deeply segregated and racist society. Though his writing and speeches gripped audiences at the time, he’s far from a household name today.

 

A team of filmmakers wanted to change that. Decades after Baldwin’s death, a book he never finished about the murders of his friends King, X and Evers would be turned into a documentary that would grip the country, and the world.

 

The film, I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck and co-produced by Peck, his brother Hébert Peck and Rémi Grellety, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2017. Its script, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, is adapted from Baldwin’s own writing, Remember This House.

 

“Baldwin had been really, truly effected emotionally by the death of these three friends of his,” Hébert Peck said. “He felt that, in writing this book, it will help him not only tell the story and how they all mattered and were part of the same story, but also would get him out of what he was experiencing.

 

“He was there during their lives as a person who was a witness to what was going on.”

 

Baldwin was fiercely committed to telling this story, but he died before he could finish the manuscript. The filmmakers picked up where he left off.

 

“In these 30 pages he was very clear about how he was going to write the book, why the book was so important and vital, telling the history of America, looking at it from a different perspective,” Hébert Peck said.

 

“We traditionally see American history as history from different points of view. For (Baldwin), no, this is all of the same story, and we need to tell this story, because that’s what makes us Americans.”

I Am Not Your Negro will air on PBS’s Independent Lens on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Monday, January 15 at 8 pm on PBS Hawaiʻi. Hébert Peck said he’s excited for it to reach new audiences in their own homes. Peck recently spoke about the decade-long making of the documentary and Baldwin’s legacy.

 

Why was James Baldwin chosen as the entry point to telling the story of race in the U.S.?

Hébert Peck: James Baldwin had been an important person initially in Raoul’s life. When Raoul was a young adult, reading James Baldwin provided him context for his experience as a young black man in a very powerful way. He read everything he could get his hands on about Baldwin and always had a Baldwin book with him. Eventually he did become a filmmaker, and it wasn’t until maybe decades later when he was an established filmmaker that he felt he wanted to tackle James Baldwin as a topic, as an important person who was one of our top writers of the 20th century in America.

 

Hébert Peck, co-producer of “I Am Not Your Negro.” Photo courtesy of Hébert Peck.

 

He was interested in really creating a film that would hopefully do for an audience what Baldwin had done for him. And also he felt that Baldwin had disappeared from our society and that it was important to bring him back. The task was tougher than what I explain here—it took us 10 years to make the film.

 

The most important thing was to get the rights from the Baldwin estate. When we did secure the rights, we had access to everything—all of his published works, all of his unpublished materials, photographs, personal letters—which, in the industry, is kind of unprecedented. When we got the rights, number one, it was great, number two, it was a lot of pressure. You better do something good, because it was unprecedented to have that (access).

 

Yet at the same time Raoul was still looking for an entry to the story. He knew he didn’t want to create a typical documentary (with) experts talking about Baldwin and explaining to us what’s happening. He really wanted this to be a Baldwin experience—the story would be told from Baldwin’s perspective. He also felt strongly that the documentary or the film should use only Baldwin’s words. When you have those guidelines it puts you in a pretty tight situation.

 

It wasn’t until four years into the project that (Baldwin’s younger sister) Gloria Karefa­-Smart handed Raoul these 30 pages of an unpublished manuscript that Baldwin had written to his literary agent about the next book he wanted to write, or the next book he felt he needed to write. Reading this material, for Raoul, it became, this is it. The task really started at that point.

 

There’s a treasure trove of archival footage and photographs featured in the film. Where did all of that come from and how did you decide what to use?

HP: We had to not only look at Baldwin’s archives, but also look throughout the world at where Baldwin spoke, where he wrote, because he was really this international person, and that meant we had to look everywhere.

 

An anti-integration rally in Little Rock. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

A lot of the footage, the civil rights footage, (people in the U.S.) are very familiar with it. Because we see it every Martin Luther King day or every Black History Month, a lot of that material is back on television or back on our screens, or back on the web. People get used to it and they don’t really pay attention to it. It becomes a symbol more than actually looking at it.

 

We thought, some of the stuff that we are going to use that has been used a lot—how are we going to make that fresh again? How are we going to make it possible for the viewer to pay attention to the details? The final idea was to colorize some of the footage. And in just making that switch with some of the footage, it really makes you pay attention to what you’re watching.

 

Although Baldwin was talking about things that happened 50 years ago, some of it resonated in the present in our current lives. How do you create that vision that the future and the past are kind of the same? So, some of the contemporary footage, some of the protest footage, some of it (is) in black and white. It’s a seamless thing that happens in the viewer’s mind and in our minds.

 

There have been lots of documentaries about race. Why do you think this one became a phenomenon?

I think it’s a combination of many things. Number one, I think it’s Baldwin—his ability to make us see the world with more critical eyes but in a way that it resonates with us and it makes us realize, that thing that I was thinking, it actually does make sense. Number two, I must say the way Raoul tells stories, the way he respects his subjects, the team that he had with him—from the editing team, to the researchers, to the voiceover that he had.

 

And also the mood in the country. You had a situation where there were things people in the black community were aware of, were sharing over the years, even over the centuries, but that up until now weren’t seen on the 10 o’ clock news or on people’s mobile devices. There was some outrage. People were having a difficult time with what they were seeing.

 

And I think there are so many things going on in the country at the same time. We were becoming more and more divided as a society along political lines, along racial lines, and so I think one of the things that Baldwin was able to bring to us, and I think the film, was context for what we were seeing and experiencing. There was almost this thirst for some sort of contextualizing of what we were experiencing as Americans during the past few years.

 

Fifty years ago, Baldwin was skeptical that the U.S. would have a black president any time soon. We did that, and yet many problems Baldwin wrote and spoke about remain. What do you think he would say about the state of the country today?

HP: I don’t think he would be surprised at where we are now. Baldwin always talked from a point of view of love—Baldwin truly loved his country and I think he was frustrated that we continued to operate in silence as if what we call the American dream was the American dream for everyone.

James Baldwin, left, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

He wanted to make sure we understood our history as Americans. Yeah, it’s not a pretty story, but we need to make it part of our history so we can move forward, so that we can understand who we are and we can imagine the possibilities and actually create, as he said in the film, something that has never been done before anywhere.

 

And so I think he would not have been surprised because he would have said we haven’t done the work we need to do; this is a logical movement toward where we are going to end up if we don’t do the work we need to do. It’s hard work but we have to do the work. Otherwise, it just gets worse each decade.

 

He would say yes, we have progress, the fact that we can even make a film like that, that’s a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go. He would say it’s the responsibility of each of us to find the solution to go forward. It’s not going to come from anyone else but us.

 

For people wanting to explore Baldwin’s writing, what’s your favorite book of his?

HP: “The Fire Next Time.” I think because it was my first Baldwin book, when I read it I was a young adult, it really resonated with me. After reading that I started getting my hands on everything I could get by Baldwin.

 

“I Am Not Your Negro” premieres on “Independent Lens” on Jan. 15. You can also watch the film online at PBS.org or the free PBS app starting Jan. 16.

 

Katie Moritz is the web editor for Rewire, an online content provider for PBS stations based out of Twin Cities PBS. Moritz is a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for a newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to balmy Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she works on this here website. Reach her via email at kmoritz@tpt.org. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz and on Instagram @yepilikeit.

INDEPENDENT LENS
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

 

John Coltrane’s boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This portrait of a remarkable jazz artist reveals the critical events, passions, experiences and challenges that shaped his life and his revolutionary sounds.

 

Photo Gallery – Indie Lens Pop-Up: ‘Chasing Trane’

On Tuesday, October 24, PBS Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking kicked off a new season of our free community film screening series, Indie Lens Pop-Up. About 30 attendees enjoyed a free preview of Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary before its broadcast television debut on Monday, November 6 at 10 pm on Independent Lens.

 

Enjoy photos from the event! Click each image to enlarge.

 

Our next Indie Lens Pop-Up will be for I Am Not Your Negro on Wednesday, November 15 at 5:30 pm at PBS Hawaiʻi, 315 Sand Island Access Road. Attendance is free, and first-come, first-served!

 

 

Free Screening of Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

 

Free, public screening of Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 5:30 – 8:00 pm

PBS Hawaiʻi, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

A part of Indie Lens Pop-Up – Presented by PBS Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking

 

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary is the first film in the 2017-2018 season of the Indie Lens Pop-Up community film screening series. Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, Chasing Trane brings saxophone great John Coltrane to life, as a man and an artist. The film is the definitive look at the boundary-shattering musician whose influence continues to this day.

 

Chasing Trane features never-before-seen Coltrane family home movies, footage of Coltrane and his band in the studio (discovered in a California garage during the production of this film), along with hundreds of rare photographs and television appearances from around the world. Coltrane’s incredible story is told by the musicians who worked with him (Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Reggie Workman), musicians inspired by his fearless artistry and creative vision (Common, John Densmore, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Kamasi Washington), Coltrane’s children (Ravi, Oran, and step-daughters Michelle Coltrane and Antonia Andrews) and biographers, and well-known admirers such as President Bill Clinton and Dr. Cornel West.

Chasing Trane reveals the critical events, passions, experiences, and challenges that shaped Coltrane’s life and his revolutionary sounds. It is a story of demons and darkness, of persistence and redemption. Above all, it is the incredible spiritual journey of a man who found himself and, in the process, created an extraordinary body of work that transcends all barriers of geography, race, religion, and age. And naturally, the film is imbued throughout with Coltrane’s remarkable music.

Although Coltrane never did any television interviews (and only a handful for radio) during his lifetime, he has an active and vibrant presence in the film through thoughts he expressed during print interviews. These words—spoken by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington—illuminate what John Coltrane may have been thinking or feeling at critical moments throughout his life and career.


About The Filmmaker

John Scheinfeld is an Emmy®, Grammy® and Writers Guild Award nominee and writer/director/producer of documentaries for theatrical and television distribution. His films have premiered at Telluride, Toronto, Venice and IDFA and include The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him), We Believe, and Dick Cavett’s Watergate. In addition, Scheinfeld has written pilot scripts for drama series for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and received his MFA from Northwestern University.

 

 

 

 

‘Indie Lens Pop-Up’ film screenings return to PBS Hawai‘i’s studio

PBS Hawaii

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Liberty Peralta
lperalta@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5030

 

Download this Press Release

 

HONOLULU, HI – Next month marks the return of Indie Lens Pop-Up, the free screenings of films from the award-winning PBS series, Independent Lens. PBS Hawai‘i and fellow creative nonprofit Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking are the local co-presenters of Indie Lens Pop-Up.

 

Indie Lens Pop-Up brings people together for community-driven conversations around Independent Lens documentaries.

 

INDIE LENS POP-UP

 

All but one of the screenings will take place at PBS Hawai‘i’s headquarters at 315 Sand Island Access Road in Honolulu. The March 2018 film, Dolores, will be shown at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre, as part of Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking’s annual Women of Wonders film festival.

 

“At a time when national conversations about important social issues seem to be overwhelmingly divided, our work with this program has provided a unique space for community members of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to come together and engage in dialogue with one another,” said Duong-Chi Do, Director of Engagement & Impact at Independent Television Service (ITVS), the presenting organization behind Independent Lens.

 

Indie Lens Pop-Up schedule, Fall 2017-Spring 2018

 

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary / By John Scheinfeld

Tuesday, October 24, 5:30-8:00 pm

PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, Chasing Trane brings saxophone great John Coltrane to life, as a man and an artist. The film is the definitive look at the boundary-shattering musician whose influence continues to this day.

 

I Am Not Your Negro / By Raoul Peck

Wednesday, November 15, 5:30-8:00 pm

PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

One of the most acclaimed films of the year and an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, I Am Not Your Negro envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words, spoken by Samuel L. Jackson, and with a flood of rich archival material.

 

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities /

By Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams

Tuesday, February 6, 5:30-8:00 pm

PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

Tell Them We Are Rising explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played over the course of 150 years in American history, culture, and identity. This film reveals the rich history of HBCUs and the power of higher education to transform lives and advance civil rights and equality in the face of injustice.

 

Dolores / By Peter Bratt

Friday, March 2, 5:30-8:00 pm

Honolulu Museum of Art, Doris Duke Theatre, 900 South Beretania Street, Honolulu

With intimate and unprecedented access, Peter Bratt’s Dolores tells the story of Dolores Huerta, among the most important, yet least-known, activists in American history. Co-founder of the first farmworkers union with Cesar Chavez, she tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century.

 

Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky / By Laura Dunn

Tuesday, April 17, 5:30-8:00 pm

PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky is a portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of award-winning writer and farmer Wendell Berry, back home in his native Henry County, Kentucky.

 

Served Like a Girl / By Lysa Heslov

Wednesday, May 23, 5:30-8:00 pm

PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

Served Like a Girl provides a candid look at a shared sisterhood to help the rising number of homeless women veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and suffer from PTSD, sexual abuse, and other traumas. By entering into the “Ms. Veteran American” competition, these amazing ladies unexpectedly come full circle in a quest for healing and hope.

 


PBS Hawai‘i is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and Hawai‘i’s sole member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). We advance learning and discovery through storytelling that profoundly touches people’s lives. We bring the world to Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i to the world. pbshawaii.org | facebook.com/pbshawaii | @pbshawaii

 

 

‘Newtown’ filmmaker Kim A. Snyder to appear at March 14 Indie Lens Pop-Up

PBS Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking will co-present a screening of the acclaimed documentary, Newtown, on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road in Honolulu.

 

Newtown filmmaker Kim A. Snyder is scheduled to appear for a Q&A after the screening. The event is part of “Indie Lens Pop-Up,” a film screening series that brings people together for community-driven conversations about documentaries seen on the PBS series Independent Lens.

 

There is limited seating available. Those interested in attending should RSVP online at newtownhawaii.eventbrite.com or by phone at 808.462.5030.

Kim Snyder, documentary filmmaker, Manhattan, UWS, New York, NY. Photo by Stefano Giovannini

 

About Newtown: On December 14, 2012, a disturbed young man committed a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that took the lives of 20 elementary school children and six educators. Newtown, filmed over the course of nearly three years, uses deeply personal, never-before-heard testimonies to relate the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. Through interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, doctors and first responders, Newtown documents a traumatized community still reeling from the tragedy, fractured by grief but driven toward a sense of purpose.

Nicole Hockley, mother of a Sandy Hook victim, and first responder Sgt. William Cario, embrace after the 2012 tragedy that left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead.

 

Newtown premieres on Independent Lens Monday, April 3, 2017, 9:00-11:00 pm on PBS Hawai‘i.

 

 

INDEPENDENT LENS
Kumu Hina

 

Over the course of a momentous year, Kumu Hina, a native Hawaiian mahu (transgender) teacher, inspires a tomboyish young girl to claim her place as leader of an all-male hula troupe, as Kumu Hina herself searches for love and a fulfilling romantic relationship with an unpredictable young Tongan man.

 

‘Indie Lens Pop-Up’ film screenings will relocate to PBS Hawai‘i headquarters

PBS Hawaii

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Liberty Peralta
lperalta@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5030

 

Download this Press Release

 

‘Indie Lens Pop-Up’ film screenings will relocate to PBS Hawai‘i headquartersHONOLULU, HI – Indie Lens Pop-Up – the free neighborhood screenings of films from the award-winning PBS series, Independent Lens – will take place at PBS Hawai‘i’s headquarters at 315 Sand Island Access Road in Honolulu.

 

Indie Lens Pop-Up brings people together for community-driven conversations around Independent Lens documentaries.

 

“At a time when national conversations about important social issues seem to be overwhelmingly divided, our work with this program has provided a unique space for community members of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to come together and engage in dialogue with one another,” said Duong-Chi Do, Director of Engagement & Impact at Independent Television Service (ITVS), the presenting organization behind Independent Lens.

 

PBS Hawai‘i and fellow creative nonprofit Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking continue to be local co-presenters of Indie Lens Pop-Up. Previously, Indie Lens Pop-Up screenings were held at Hawaii Filmmakers Collective in Kaimuki, and the ARTS at Marks Garage in Downtown Honolulu.

 

The Bad Kids by Lou Pepe and Keith Fulton
Tuesday, February 7, 6:30 pm
PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu
Click to RSVP on Eventbrite

 

Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is an alternative for at-risk students with little hope of graduating from a traditional high school. It’s their last chance. This coming of age story shows extraordinary educators and talented students combat the crippling effects of poverty.

 

Newtown by Kim A. Snyder
Tuesday, March 14, 6:30 pm
PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu
Click to RSVP on Eventbrite
 

Newtown uses deeply personal testimonies to tell the story of the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. Through poignant interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, doctors, and first responders, Newtown documents a traumatized community still reeling from the senseless killing, fractured by grief but driven toward a sense of purpose.

 

National Bird by Sonia Kennebeck
Tuesday, April 4, 6:30 pm
PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

 

National Bird follows whistleblowers who, despite possible consequences, are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war. The film gives rare insight through the eyes of both survivors and veterans who suffer from PTSD while plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries.

 

Real Boy by Shaleece Haas
Tuesday, June 6, 6:30 pm
PBS Hawai‘i, 315 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu

 

Real Boy is the coming-of-age story of Bennett, a trans teenager with dreams of musical stardom. During the first two years of his gender transition, as Bennett works to repair a strained relationship with his family, he is taken under the wing of his friend and musical hero, celebrated trans folk singer Joe Stevens.

 

PBS Hawai‘i is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and Hawai‘i’s sole member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). We advance learning and discovery through storytelling that profoundly touches people’s lives. We bring the world to Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i to the world. pbshawaii.org | facebook.com/pbshawaii | @pbshawaii

 

Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving gender equity in filmmaking and other creative media arts. We are a creative and safe space where film and media-makers connect, create, mentor and inspire current and future generations of women to explore and pursue careers in the field of filmmaking.

 

hawaiiwomeninfilmmaking.org | facebook.com/HIWomenInFilmmaking | @WIF4HI on Twitter

 

Indie Lens Pop-Up is a neighborhood series that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. Featuring documentaries seen on the PBS series Independent Lens, Indie Lens Pop-Up draws local residents, leaders, and organizations to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics to family and relationships. Make friends, share stories, and join the conversation.

 

Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 pm. The acclaimed series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

pbs.org/independentlens | facebook.com/independentlens | @IndependentLens on Twitter

 

INDEPENDENT LENS
T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold

 

Meet Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, who rose from the streets of Flint, Michigan, and at 17 won the first Olympic gold medal for women’s boxing in 2012. In this coming-of-age story, life outside the ring may be an even tougher fight.

 

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