The award-winning PBS series Independent Lens opens its new season on Monday, October 29 with Young Men and Fire, a richly personal look at the lives of a western firefighting crew during one challenging season. Also on the fall schedule is Dawnland, which explores the devastating impact of the forced removal of Native American children from their families; The Judge, a look at the first woman appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts; The Cleaners, an eye-opening investigation into how Silicon Valley monitors online content; and Man on Fire, the story of an elderly Texas minister driven to a shocking act of protest.
Highlights of the soon-to-be-announced Winter/Spring 2019 season include two of the most acclaimed documentaries of this summer: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Morgan Neville’s moving portrait of children’s TV pioneer Fred Rogers, and Eugene Jarecki’s unique meditation on Elvis and America, The King. Also premiering in 2019 is RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World (January 28), a celebration of the Native American musicians who transformed blues, jazz and rock.
“Documentary film is soaring right now because it’s doing the deep work of telling stories about ordinary and extraordinary people from across the country—all kinds of people who hold different beliefs,” said Lois Vossen, Executive Producer of Independent Lens. “The news has become divisive, and we’re not the news. We’re newsworthy, character-driven stories. And because we’re public media we have exceptional reach with 394 stations across the United States — that gives us the ability to be both local and national every time we work with a film.”
Independent Lens will also present a new season of Indie Lens Pop-Up, a national series of free public events that bring community leaders, local residents and organizations together for discussions and screenings. Selections this year include Dawnland, RUMBLE, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?; additional titles to be announced.
The Fall broadcast schedule follows; additional Winter/Spring titles and broadcast dates will be announced late fall.
Young Men and Fire by Kahlil Hudson and Alex Jablonski (Monday, October 29, 10-11 pm ET)
Forest and wildland fires are growing larger, more frequent, and deadlier every year, threatening millions of acres and thousands of lives. Meet a firefighting crew as they struggle with fear, loyalty, love and defeat over the course of a single wildfire season. What emerges is a quietly powerful story of a small group of men – their exterior world, their interior lives, and the fire that lies between.
Dawnland by Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip (Monday, November 5, 10-11 pm ET)
Follow the first government-sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission in the U.S., which investigates the devastating impact of Maine’s child welfare practices on Native American communities. With exclusive access to this groundbreaking process and never-before-seen footage, the film reveals the untold narrative of Indigenous child removal in the U.S.
The Judge by Erika Cohn (Monday, November 12, 10:30 pm- 12 am ET)
When Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced she wanted to join the bench, he laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. The Judge offers a unique portrait of Kholoud’s brave journey and her tireless fight for justice for women while offering an unvarnished look at life for women under Shari’a.
The Cleaners by Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block (Monday, November 19, 10-11:30 pm ET)
Meet some of the people hired by Silicon Valley leaders like Facebook and Google to do “digital cleaning.” Mostly located in the Philippines, these “content moderators” delete “inappropriate” content on the net, thereby influencing what people around the world see and think. The film charts social media’s evolution from a shared vision of a global village to a dangerous web of fake news, extremism and radicalization.
Man on Fire by Joel Fendelman (Monday, December 17, 10-11 pm ET)
On June 23, 2014, a 79-year-old white Methodist minister named Charles Moore drove to an empty parking lot in his old home town of Grand Saline, Texas, and set himself on fire. He left a note explaining that his act was his final protest against the virulent racism of the community and his country at large. Man on Fire goes back to Grand Saline — population 3,266 — to try to uncover the truth about the town’s ugly past and the fervor for God and justice that drove Moore to his shocking final act.
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World by Catherine Bainbridge (Monday, January 28)
The acclaimed documentary explores how Native American musicians transformed American blues, jazz and rock — despite frequent attempts to ban, censor, and erase Indian culture. This eye-opening musical celebration features Robbie Robertson, Taj Mahal, George Clinton, Martin Scorsese, Slash, Jackson Browne, Taboo, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Steve Van Zandt, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Iggy Pop, Steven Tyler, and many more.