From renowned film veterans including Eugene Jarecki (The King) to first-time filmmakers Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green (The Providers), Denali Tiller (Tre Maison Dasan) and Ciara Lacey (Out of State), the award-winning PBS series Independent Lens Winter and Spring 2019 lineup of documentary films takes viewers on a cross-country journey through modern America.
“This season of Independent Lens is a road trip across America, visiting people and places rarely explored on film,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens executive producer. “From a family fighting to preserve their way of life in rural North Dakota to a high school wrestling team in Alabama, from an Arizona prison to a health clinic in northern New Mexico, this season’s filmmakers expand our perspectives and shed light on communities large and small, offering an insightful and timely cinematic state of the union.”
PBS series Independent Lens Winter and Spring 2019 lineup
(dates are subject to change)
My Country No More by Jeremiah Hammerling and Rita Baghdadi (Monday, January 7)
Between 2011 and 2014, oil drilling in rural North Dakota reached a historical peak, setting off a modern-day gold rush of Wild West proportions. Explore the human cost of the boom through the intimate lens of one family fighting for their agricultural way of life, a fight which puts them at odds with family members and neighbors determined to sell.
Rodents of Unusual Size by Christopher Metzler, Jeff Springer and Quinn Costello (Monday, January 14)
Go deep into the bayous with Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales, who has lived through hurricanes and oil spills but now faces an even more insidious threat: an invasive species of monstrous 20-pound “swamp rats” which, with their orange teeth and voracious appetites, are eating up coastal wetlands. But Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hell-bent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It’s man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana (Monday, January 21)
The acclaimed documentary explores how Native American musicians transformed American blues, jazz and rock – despite frequent attempts to ban, censor, and erase Indigenous culture. This eye-opening musical celebration tells the story of ground-breaking performers including Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, and Jesse Ed Davis, and 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.
The King by Eugene Jarecki (Monday, January 28)
Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip across America. From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind. A diverse cast of Americans joins the journey including Alec Baldwin, Rosanne Cash, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, Ethan Hawke, Van Jones, Mike Myers, and Dan Rather, among many others.
Black Memorabilia by Chico Colvard (Monday, February 4)
At the intersection of racial identity, historical narrative, and international commerce, this film follows the propagation of demeaning representations of African Americans – black memorabilia. The story goes around the world to meet the people who reproduce, consume and reclaim these racially-charged objects.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening by RaMell Ross (Monday, February 11)
Visit the world of Hale County, Alabama. Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments in the lives of people in the community, the film offers a richly detailed glimpse at life in America’s Black Belt, simultaneously celebrating its beauty and bearing witness to the consequences of the social construction of race.
People’s Republic of Desire by Hao Wu (Monday, February 25)
In China, a generation of young people has come of age on social media, where virtual relationships are replacing real-life connections. Both the wealthy and the poor gather in online showrooms, finding entertainment and a way to feel connected. Although these groups never cross paths in real life, in the digital universe they band together to worship idols who earn as much as $130,000 a month singing karaoke or hosting interactive talk shows.
Tre Maison Dasan by Denali Tiller (Monday, April 1)
An estimated one in 14 American children has a parent in prison. Tre Maison Dasan tells the story of three of these children – Tre, Maison and Dasan – each from the small state of Rhode Island. An emotional exploration of relationships tested by separation and the challenges of growing up with a parent behind bars, the film gives voice to the youngest victims of America’s epidemic of incarceration.
The Providers by Anna Moot-Levin and Laura Green (Monday, April 8)
Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America, The Providers follows three “country doctors” in northern New Mexico at clinics that offer care to all who walk through the doors, regardless of ability to pay. With personal struggles that at times reflect those of their patients, the journeys of the providers unfold as they work to reach Americans who would otherwise be left without healthcare.
Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by David Sutherland an Independent Lens, Frontline and VOCES co-presentation (Monday, April 15)
From acclaimed director David Sutherland (Kind-Hearted Woman, Country Boys, The Farmer’s Wife) comes this unique look at the immigration issue. The film follows the efforts of Elizabeth Perez, a decorated United States Marine veteran, to reunite her family after the deportation of her husband, an undocumented worker from Mexico. Her struggle begins to challenge her assumptions about justice and fairness in the nation she fought for.
Charm City by Marilyn Ness (Monday, April 22)
Filmed during three years of unparalleled violence in Baltimore, Charm City delivers a powerfully candid portrait of those on the frontlines. With grit, fury and compassion, a group of police, citizens, community leaders and government officials grapple with the consequences of violence and try to reclaim their city’s future.
Out of State by Ciara Lacy (Monday, May 6)
Shipped thousands of miles away from Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two native Hawaiians, David and Hale, discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. When they finish their terms and return to Hawaii, eager to prove to themselves and their families that the experience has changed them forever, they struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking the question: can you really go home again?
Harvest Season by Bernardo Ruiz (Monday, May 13)
California’s Napa Valley is one of the premier wine growing regions in the world, celebrated as an idyllic and luxurious destination. Yet, many of the vineyard workers and the small producers with roots in the fields are rarely credited for the valley’s famed bounty. Filmed over the course of one agricultural year, Harvest Season takes an “other side of the valley” approach, giving a unique view of the dramatic process that goes into making some of the world’s most celebrated wines.
Wrestle by Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer (Monday, May 20)
As they fight their way towards the state championship, four high school wrestlers from Alabama face injustices and challenges on and off the mat. Together with their coach, they grapple with obstacles that jeopardize their success and, despite the odds, pursue their goals with humor and courage.