Empowering Media That Matters
Home >> Future Public Media >> Documents >> Field Reports >> Public TV and Independent, Point of View Documentary

Public TV and Independent, Point of View Documentary




Testimony Submitted



Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin Films and IndieCaucus Steering Committee

Rep. Donna Edwards (by proxy), D-MD

Charles Lewis, Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University

Angela Massino, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates

Jim Beck, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, DC

 Joy Thomas Moore, Media Consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Jessica Clark, Media Impact Funders

Dominic Fredianelli, Subject of film, “Where Soldiers Come From”

Miranda Peterson (by proxy), Protect Our Defenders

Krisian Ramos, Media Matters for America

Axel Caballero, Executive Director, National Alliance of Latino Independent Producers

Leslie A. Fields-Cruz (by proxy), Executive Director of National Black Programming Consortia on behalf of National Minority Consortia

Jacquie Jones, independent producer

Diana Ingraham, Executive Director, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital

Jose Torres, Senior External Affairs Director, Free Press

Natalie Applewhite, Managing Director, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Kirsten Jacobs (by proxy), Leading Age

Linnea Hartsuyer, Product Manager, Harmony Institute

Garbriela Schneider, Sunlight Foundation

Erica Ginsberg, Docs in Progress

Blair Dorshwalter, independent producer

Lance Kramer, Executive Director, Meridian Films

Amy Hendrick, Video Productions Coordinator, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Prof. Gary Griffin, Professor, American University and filmmaker

Jennifer MacArthur, Borderline Media

Matt White, Producer

Back to top


Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets

Kevin Harris, Vice President, WETA-TV

Lesley Norman, Vice President, WNET-TV

Byron Hurt, Steering Committee, IndieCaucus

Joseph Tovares, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Noland Walker, Senior Content Director, Independent Television Service

Ivana Jackson, Outreach Coordinator, WHUT-TV

Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director, POV

Marie Nelson, Vice President, PBS

Back to top









Film Subject



At the open forum on independently made films and public TV at the Media That Matters conference on Feb. 19, ITVS’ Noland Walker noted at the conclusion, “We aren’t just dealing with individuals, we’re dealing with communities.” This was vividly clear in the testimony that he and nine other representatives of the community and public TV heard.

Center for Media & Social Impact director Pat Aufderheide launched the open forum:

As you know, the Center for Media & Social Impact has public purpose at its core, as reflects the mandate of American University as a whole. We love public broadcasting because it is distinctive within American media for having a mission rooted in public purpose. And rightly so, since more than a third of the annual budget of public broadcasting comes from state, local and federal tax dollars.

How exactly to interpret and execute that public purpose is the honorable obligation of many people, and they do not always agree. Tonight’s topic is one familiar site of disagreement. What kinds of programs should get top placement in the broadcast schedule?

PBS and lead stations such as WNET have raised questions about whether two series—Independent Lens and POV—should keep their primetime spot, on primary stations. Both these series feature independent voices that bring into national focus voices and issues not usually heard in mainstream media. Many of those voices are from minority or underrepresented groups; many films are directed or produced by women; many are associated with engagement campaigns aimed at rural or urban youth, at caregivers for ill or elderly, at people interfacing with new immigrants, and more.

We originally scheduled this event to continue a conversation begun last September at a conference of the International Documentary Association, where PBS’ programmer Beth Hoppe reopened a dormant conversation with independent producers about diverse, authorial work. We refocused it in January, to match up with open forums being scheduled by PBS and others around the country, when this new conversation, about the placement of independent work on primetime, erupted. Speakers will provide testimony and comments to the listeners on the panel. At the end of the testimony, in about an hour, we will hear from the panelists what they heard, and their comments. And we hope that the conversation continues afterward.

Testimony began with remarks by Gordon Quinn, Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films and a member of the steering committee of Indie Caucus, the independents’ group calling for a greater commitment to independent and diverse voices on public TV. “We value public TV,” he said, “because when we have something to say, you have to listen—because you’re public. You are accountable.”

In remarks read by media events consultant Michon Boston, Cong. Donna Edwards (D-MD) heralded public TV’s function in providing information for decision-making, especially for diverse and minority communities:

Public media outlets are a key resource for sharing information with our community, providing resources for our citizens, and representing our local business and organizations. The impact that public broadcasting has on diverse and minority communities through outreach is immeasurable, and must remain a resource for underrepresented groups in order to outline underrepresented issues. 

 Back to top


Journalists testified that having a prime-time broadcast showcase was crucial to their job of providing information in the public interest to the American public, especially when it was investigative. Prof. Chuck Lewis, a leading investigative journalist and head of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, noted:

Public broadcasting should be about the most compelling issues of our time, important subjects that the commercial news media cannot or will not explore. And investigative TV documentaries such as "Dirty Wars" (POV) and "The Kill Team" (Independent Lens) and many others are exactly the kind of content that should be aired in the evening, in primetime. To shunt them aside to a more obscure time slot is a travesty, indeed an affront to the original purpose of public broadcasting itself.

Natalie Applewhite, Managing Director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which supports journalists to report on underreported, systemic global issues, testified:

The journalists we work with are dedicated to telling stories in the public interest, and I strongly believe that public TV has a responsibility to present their audience with journalism that serves the same goal. The reality is that the market for in-depth reporting on these kinds of issues in today’s media landscape is shrinking, not growing. And this at a time when Americans’ need for nuanced balanced reporting on global matters has perhaps never been more critical. Independent Lens and POV have consistently provided a platform for just that.

She heralded Bernardo Ruiz’ work on “Reportero,” a POV program, as a signal example.

Threats to journalists is the kind of issue we too often ignore until we are faced with headline news of brutal murders, like those of James Foley nad Steven Sotloff. But this is an issue Mexican journalists face daily, and that Bernardo Ruiz brought o life in his poignant documentary. Without a platform like POV, this is a story that is very unlikely to have reached such a wide and diverse an audience. It helped more Americans understand a story of great global significance. Thanks to its primetime slot, PBS honored the significance of the issue. We need more, not less of that.

Back to top


Executives from nonprofits, both national and local to the DC area, testified about the significance of these series in a primetime position. Jim Beck from Sasha Bruce Youthwork, which works with homeless, runaway, abused and neglected youth, testified about the value of “The Homestretch,” a documentary scheduled for airing on Independent Lens in April. The film features the story of three young homeless people finding different ways to graduate from high school. This film, he testified, tells a story that resonates with youth and their families.

Angela Massino, communications and multimedia manager at the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, a coalition of more than 130 nonprofits providing resources and services to at-risk youth in the area, also talked about “The Homestretch.” Although the film features homeless youth in Chicago, she said, “their challenges mirror the struggles homeless youth in DC face every day.” The Alliance plans on a screening for local government officials including Council members and representatives from government agencies. In the spring, the Alliance will host a much larger community screening; “however, the largest audience to view ‘The Homestretch’ will be on April 13th when it is broadcast on PBS: “

This is why documentaries play a crucial role in our local and national community. They raise consciousness on social issues and marginalized populations in an engaging and action-oriented way. Please continue to keep POV and Independent Lens scheduled during time-time, because people like Kasey, Roque and Anthony are not just speaking for themselves, but helping to share the experiences of the 4,403 homeless students living in our hometown of Washington, DC.

Kirsten Jacobs Education Development Manager at Leading Age, an organization that supports policies to help ageing Americans thrive, noted that Independent Lens’ showcasing of programs such as “Almost Home” raised awareness of important issues in ageing:

Without a home on PBS in primetime, many films that have the power to sway public debate, that enlighten the general public, and enact positive change will not get made. Instead, stereotypes of older people, which are too often trivialized through humor, misunderstandings about personal development in late life, denial of the aging process, and the assumption that life has less value to society the older we get, will continue to be the norm.

LeadingAge supports a future for Independent Lens & POV on primetime to protect PBS’s mandate to give a voice to those underrepresented in for-profit media.

Gabriela Schneider of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all, argued that documentary films such as those on Independent Lens and POV can play a key role both in engaging citizens in public life and anchoring new forms of open civic technology.  Independent documentarians, she argued, are inspiring citizens to participate, and that's a "win for democracy."

Miranda Peterson, policy and program director of Protect Our Defenders, which exists to “honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members,” contributed a letter in which she explained the value of a national broadcast of the film “Invisible War,” about military sexual assault:

Military sexual assault is an issue that has plagued our services for decades, but until recently victims were silenced and the issue was swept under the rug. That changed when survivors began to speak out and create a movement for accountability and change. “The Invisible War” captured those stories and elevated their voices to a national stage. The public national broadcast of this film magnified the survivors’ impact in a way that cannot be overstated. The film brought the voices of survivors into the homes of ordinary Americans across the country, spreading outrage over the treatment of our service members, who had suffered not only sexual assault at the hands of their brothers-in-arms, but the professional, legal, mental, and physical fallout of those attacks in a system that failed to support them.

Protect Our Defenders worked with the filmmakers as an outreach partner. Critically, the film helped inspire thousands of citizens, veterans and active duty service members to join the movement and fight for change. The widespread viewing helped to turn Invisible War into more than a film. Invisible War quickly became a powerful advocacy tool to help make real and lasting change. On Capitol Hill, the Invisible War helped motivate lawmakers to take this issue seriously. On a grassroots level, we worked with survivors and advocates across the country to plan local screenings and spread the word.

By ensuring that a diverse American audience was able to view the Invisible War and respond to its call to action, the film helped to galvanize support among the public. Public broadcast reaches a broad audience that includes underserved veterans and minorities, in a way that smaller market broadcasts never could. A recent Washington Post poll found that 6 in 10 Americans now support fundamental reform.

Erica Ginsberg, executive director of Docs in Progress, which incubates and supports documentary filmmakers, noted that the DC area is noted for audiences that love documentaries, and policymakers who connect with issues through them. Yet, she noted, until WETA recently started carrying Independent Lens and POV in primetime, it was impossible to find the series in their primetime slot on any of the three public TV stations in the area.

Documentaries have made a tremendous difference by carrying content about and aimed at audiences that might not be taken seriously by commercially-minded broadcasters. One of our alums, Dean Hamer, said to me, “Who else but PBS would broadcast in primetime a film about a transgender native Pacific Islander?” “Kumu Hina” will be broadcast on Independent Lens in May, and I hope I can tell people they can see it in primetime.

Linnea Hartsuyker of Harmony Institute, an interdisciplinary research center that studies the impact of entertainment on individuals and society, testified about the importance of a primetime spot for the series as an important factor in impact. Producer Matt White noted that independent production was exploding and that independent films were featured on commercial broadcast; public broadcasting should not fall behind.

Local community organizations also were present. Diana Ingraham, Executive Director of  community center Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital said:

As community screening partners with ITVS’ Independent Lens and POV, we’ve screened a good quotient of social issue documentaries to robust, diverse and interested audiences.  When PBS schedules these strands in prime-time – it sends a message--a statement that diverse and independent voices are critical to public media’s mandate as a valued part of our country’s civic engagement. I worry that if the strands are marginalized, funding for independent social issue documentaries will become even more difficult than it currently is.

Back to top


Producers and production-related organizations also spoke. Leslie Fields-Cruz for the consortia of minority filmmakers funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—National Black Programming Consortium, the Center for Asian-American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting, Pacific Islanders in Communication, and Vision Maker Media—contributed a statement, including:

Public Television is a resource for America’s underrepresented voices, and a place where Americans, in all of their diversity can find their stories. Keeping IL and POV in their primetime slots on primary channels, and working with stations to ensure that they are carried is core to PBS’ mandate as a public service. Research shows that a television broadcast still reaches a broad American public, and minorities, especially African-Americans, are more likely to depend on receiving their programs through broadcasting than other media platforms.

Therefore the NMC strongly encourages all public television stations to carry IL and POV in their primetime slot on primary channels. Additionally, we request PBS and the member stations to commit to providing publicity and promotion of these series, branding PBS as the home of independent diverse stories. We also strongly encourage the member stations to work with community partners, schools and universities, sparking an ongoing dialogue around this insightful content beyond the broadcast.

Jacquie Jones, former director of the National Black Programming Consortium (Black Public Media) and a filmmaker, reproved the listening panel—many of whom knew her from previous meetings, saying that “we should not still be talking about this.” She reminded the panel of the importance of the series and other documentary work to be shown nationally, “to work our complex issues out and engage the public more broadly. Pub TV does that.”

Lance Kramer, executive director of production company Meridian Hill, explained that as an aspirant to someday show his work on these series, he saw them as a gold standard; “they are our Olympics,” he said. They are, for indies, a national institution. And placement, he noted, is a statement about value. “I think if you took one of the museums that are now on the National Mall and said, ‘We decided we don’t really have space for you, but we can put you in that office building three blocks over,’ a lot of people would be very angry, and they wouldn’t let it happen.

Blair Dorosh-Walther, the director of “Out in the Night,” a film about several African-American lesbians sentenced for assault after defending themselves, spoke about the importance of public TV documentaries for the women she profiled. “There is only public TV in prison, and these women depend on documentaries to tell them about the world,” she said. “We want to reach people in prison. For our audience, you are all they have.”

Gary Griffin, a cinematographer whose work has been seen on many programs aired by POV and Independent Lens, singled out the power of documentaries with a national primetime reach to change the lives of their subjects. “Look at Shelby Knox,” he noted, referring to the central character of “The Education of Shelby Knox.” “She is now a national political presence.” He pointed out that POV and Independent Lens have built up powerful positive brand recognition that benefits each distinctive and individual offering. Changing timeslots would confuse audiences; “as we know,” he said, “brand recognition is everything.”

Jennifer MacArthur, an engagement specialist whose Borderline Media has managed projects for POV and Independent Lens documentaries, said that films in the series have demonstrated an ability to connect with communities in ways that platform off the broadcast.

Joseph Torres, Senior External Affairs Director of Free Press, which advocates for the public’s right to communicate and a board member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, recalled a conflict between WNET and Latinos. In the 1970s, he recalled, Puerto Rican activists took over a WNET studio to protest the lack of Latino programming; their efforts resulted in a “ground-breaking program called ‘Realidades,’ which was a launching pad for many Latino filmmakers.

But through the years, Latino media makers and many in the community feel like not much has changed. PBS is still largely failing tolive up to its mission in serving the interests of the Latino community. And the pending deicision on what to do with Independent Lens and POV is a reminder of how fragile the grasp that filmmakers of color have on public broadcasting. This is coming at a time when the Latino community and communities of color desperately need films made by people of color about their lives and experience.

There is no excuse for the lack of programming; it feels like a cse of willful neglect. Sure, PBS and WNET can point to films made by wonderful filmmakers, but we all know this is not enough. POV and Indie Lens have shown more films by Latino directors than American Experience, American Masters, NOVA and Frontline combined.

So I ask the powers that be at PBS and WNET: Do no harm to Independent Lens and POV. Instead, redouble your commitment to these programs and to independent filmmakers, especially people of color.

I am grateful for these discussions. But I am afraid that it is not enough. The Puerto Rican activists understood this in the 1970s.

Beaming in by Skype, Axel Caballero, executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, provided a long list of Latino directors who would not be seen on public TV without the independent series, and noted the importance of diversity on public TV. He urged the panel not to “close this door,” and to continue to feature diverse voices, including those of Latino filmmakers.

Back to top


Funders also spoke to the importance of primetime showcasing of independent film. As the head of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s media division for 15 years, Joy Thomas Moore supported documentaries that almost exclusively on Independent Lens and POV. They were valuable, she said, because they aired high-quality work “that tackles issues others didn’t,” had “a dedicated time and loyal viewers,” and “lots of PR around the broadcast.” Moreover, public TV reached “decision makers who would watch, absorb and ultimately do something about the issue.”

As a steward of public dollars, public television was fulfilling its mission while advancing our issues. For years public television was one of the few places you could find great documentaries from diverse points of view, produced by multicultural artists. Not so now and that’s the irony. PBS is allowing this covered space to be inched away by HBO and Netflix and others who now seem to value this form of filmmaking more than PBS.

Moore recalled that two films she funded, directed by Tod Lending, were successful with a combination of primetime broadcast and engagement. Indeed, she said, some engagement tools are still in use years later.

Public TV allows this marriage of broadcast and community engagement to exend eyes on the set well beond one night of ratigns. POV and Independnet Lens gives issues legs and heart. This kind of impact doesn’t happen when documentaries are aired on commercial and cable channels. And it certainly won’t happen if it becomes harder to find their programming.

I had the assurance of impact and longevity when I was funding films. Please allow the next generation of funders that same privilege.

Jessica Clark, research director at Media Impact Funders, a network of funders working broadly on media and technology issues,, shared conclusions from a recent discussion of funders about indies and public TV. She summarized their thinking in seven “tweetable” takeaways:

  1. National broadcasts of independent docs serve as anchors and catalysts for impact campaigns around issues central to our democracy.
  2. Local funders are invested in the ways that stations use these documentaries for civic engagement with communities.
  3. Independent documentaries bring diversity to the airwaves in a way that’s central to the mission of public broadcasting.
  4. The country is facing major issues of inequality and these films often address those questions head-on.
  5. With an election year coming up, it’s especially important to make sure the full range of perspectives and voices are heard.
  6. Not everyone can afford to subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime, and these documentaries reach those viewers who can’t.
  7. POV and Independent Lens serve as important incubators for talent — they’re a key part of the documentary production pipeline.    

Back to top


Representatives of the labor movement also testified about the effect of national broadcast of films about work and working people. Amy Hendrick, Video Productions Coordinator, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said,

From home care providers in Los Angeles to sanitation workers in Memphis, working people in this country deserve to see complex, nuanced representation of themselves. Independent documentaries like the ones shown through POV and Independent Lens do this.

In 2011, thousands of our members, public workers in Wisconsin, occupied the capitol for days to fight against the undemocratic removal of collective bargaining. While mainstream media looked the other way, documentaries such as “As Goes Janesville,” shown on Independent Lens, gave people across the country a window into some of the issues that working people fight for every day. And it allowed our members across the country to see that they are not alone.

The stories of working people are important. They need to be told, and seen in primetime. If independent documentaries don’t tell these stories, I’m not sure who will.

Back to top

Film Subject

One of the most moving statements at the open forum came from the subject of a film about returning soldiers with PTSD, “Where Soldiers Come From”, Dominic Fredianelli:

When I came back from Afghanistan, I didn’t want to admit that I had changed, even though I was having problems reintegrating back to civilian life.  About a year after we came back, the director of the film showed us the rough cut, and after seeing it I realized the amount of change I’d gone through.  From then on, I used the film as a tool to deal with the problems of adjustment and the inability to reach out to others.

Once the film was screened publicly and broadcast nationally on POV, it opened opportunities to do art with other veterans, including the Combat Paper Project and a mural at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, and eventually bringing me here to DC to pursue an artistic career with a scholarship to George Washington’s art program, formerly the Corcoran School of Art.

Not only did the film help me, I saw how it helped other veterans – I received and continue to receive countless emails and Facebook messages on how the film has made It easier for veterans and their loved ones to understand the effect that war has on soldiers, and the difficulties they have adjusting to normal life.  By programming these types of personal films, POV has not only had an effect on me, and everyone involved with the film, but has also helped so many others. 

Back to top


After the deluge of comments, respondents had a range of responses. Andy Shallal, the founder of the Busboys and Poets chain of restaurants and a former mayoral candidate, heralded the role of public media in bringing people together; as a long-time screening partner for Independent Lens and POV programs at Busboys and Poets, Shallal has seen the power of media.

WETA representative Kevin Harris noted that the station carries Independent Lens and POV at feed, and then re-airs them repeatedly. “We’re very happy with IL and POV, and this has been a great evening for us,” he said.

WHUT’s Ivana Jackson noted the broad community support for the series, and said, “We’re committed to community at our station, and not just the screening but the dialogue.” She highlighted the film “American Promise,” about the challenges of educating African-American boys. She did not comment on WHUT’s decision not to carry the series in its primetime slot.

WNET’s Lesley Norman made no commitments, either: “I’m moved by everyone’s testimony. We believe in diversity, in mission, in the bubbling up. We are looking hard at process, we have heard you, we are actively having discussions about the national schedule. I’m an optimist, I am confident IL and POV will air in the best possible place for our market.

PBS’ Marie Nelson, who is African-American, similarly made no commitment, but shared a personal story:

I will tell you a secret, I will confess, that from the years when I graduated from Sesame Street to within the last few years I didn’t really watch public TV. Because it didn’t seem to connect to the issues that were important to me and my community. One of the things that brought me back was indie film.

It excites me because it means that this community is incredibly vibrant, and committed, and that’s what we need for the future of public broadcasting. There are a lot of competing priorities in this landscape, and we need to grapple with the many ways our audiences are engaged with other media and places. For those who do not have access to the conversations in public broadcasting, the reason I came back to public broadcasting was to figure out new ways to engage new audiences and attract more people to independent work and to these series.

We really are coming together, struggling together, to make sure we get it right. So thank you.

CPB’s Joseph Tovares reminded the audience of the complexities of the service, and discounted the importance of a discussion about primetime:

Public media is not a network. CPB has no jurisdiction over PBS or the stations. It’s an American, decentralized kind of crazy system that only works when people collaborate. We have to be open to innovation. And those that cling to legacy, indies or programmers, risk being left behind.

How do we remain relevant with shifting media, or demographics? Are we asking the right question? I’m not sure. What are the broadcast, over-the-top, engagement strategies that make sure that indie work reaches communities? If this is all about a timeslot, it’s the wrong question.

POV’s Simon Kilmurry noted the way in which testimony had echoed the values of the series. “Mission, diversity and impact are central to our work,” he said. He said that he was “optimistic” about the process of the listening tour, in which representatives from PBS, WNET, POV, ITVS and the Indie Caucus are visiting several cities before PBS’ decision in time for the May annual meeting.

ITVS’ Noland Walker was impressed, he said, by the turnout, on a bitterly cold night, and noted that the testimony reflected the work of ITVS. “'I’m always impressed with the range and dynamism, the creativity and skill we get in our ITVS open call,” he said. The programs ITVS produces, he noted, bring in the unsuspected. “They tell us what it’s like to be alive right now. The new dynamic voices from underrepresented communities offer an element of surprise. This is what we mean by public space.” He celebrated the fact that the voices heard in such programs were not only those of individuals, but communities.

Independent producer Byron Hurt, whose Independent Lens films include Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, spoke most directly to those who had testified:

It’s heartening to see so many people come out to defend two series I love and respect, and indie makers like myself. We want what you all want. It was impressive to hear you all stand up and tell your stories with such passion and intelligence. This space was created, and it’s important for me to protect what has been created for me.

He recounted an exchange with the server in the café car on the Amtrak he had taken to attend the event. The server was complaining about the graffiti on the walls entering a station, and about hiphop references, which he criticized as negative.

So I told him I made a film about hip hop on Independent Lens on PBS. He was impressed; now I had some legitimacy. I talked to him about how these artists are using their voice. They come from marginalized and displaced communities, and they are using their voice in the best way they can. We should focus on the problem of corporate media marginalizing the voices of artists who create positive art and hip hop culture.

I use my voice as a counter-narrative to the negative in the corporate landscape. That’s what public TV is supposed to be about, offering a counter-narrative to the negative, showcasing voices that don’t get heard, people who have creative and artistic and powerful stories to tell. When we marginalize those voices, we act in the opposite way of what public TV is supposed to be about.

Back to top


More testimony was submitted by those who could not attend because of weather or other circumstances, and which there was not time to read. These included:

Commissioner Joanne Doddy Fort, of the DC Public Service Commission noted that she has been a public TV donor and member throughout her adult life. “Wonderful documentaries, like those produced for Independent Lens and POV, are the major reasons that public television is so valuable to me,” she said.

These thoughtful documentaries tackle tough issues and tell true stories that would otherwise go untold. In my volunteer life, as a former board member of a scholarship foundation and as the vice-chair of the board of an urban charter high school, films, like “The Graduates,” that focus on the stories of young people as they struggle to complete school and get a foothold on the American dream, help to inform my policy views and keep my decision making grounded in reality.

On a personal level, as an African American woman, I have enjoyed the documentaries that profile the less recognized players and events in the civil rights movement and that thoughtfully tackle difficult issues related to race and gender.  I am part of a multi-racial family that includes children of a family member who passed for white, so shows like the upcoming “Little White Lie” and “American Denial,” are of special interest.  

She also recalled a brunch with fellow lawyers to discuss the implications of “The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” and conversations at her mother’s assisted living facility. “There are people of all ages who are looking for quality, thoughtful television shows during prime time.  You have the power to make that happen by keeping Independent Lens and POV available in the prime time schedule.  Please use it,” she said.

Chris Garlock, Communications Director of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Council, AFL-CIO and director of the DC Labor FilmFest, noted:

Last Train Home, Made in L.A., Waging a Living, Life and Debt, The Uprising of '34, Roger and Me. These are just a few of the reasons Independent Lens and POV must be kept in their primetime slot on primary channels, and PBS must work with stations to ensure that they are carried in this slot.

Public broadcasting continues to be a much-needed resource for America's underrepresented groups, enabling the general public to know about underrepresented issues.

At the DC Labor FilmFest and other labor films festivals across the United States, we have shown many of the work and work-related films that Independent Lens and POV have broadcast. These are great films and we’re proud to be able to screen them but no matter how successful our film festivals are, we can only reach a fraction of the audience PBS reaches on a regular basis.

Back to top


Full Event Transcript via PDF: "Public TV and Indpendent, Point of View Documentary"