Today at the Television Critics Association meeting, PBS reaffirmed its commitment to independent film by announcing that it will offer its second annual Online Film Festival, featuring short form films beginning Monday, March 4, and will offer a multi-platform Independent Film Showcase this fall. Both will feature films from POV and ITVS’s INDEPENDENT LENS, as well as other public media partners.
“PBS is committed to providing the public with year-round access to the best in independent filmmaking, whether it’s short form or long form — on-air and online,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “Working with POV, ITVS and our public media partners, our goal is to spotlight more independent films and filmmakers and help bring new and larger audiences to this important genre for PBS and our stations.”
PBS Online Film Festival Returns for Second Year
PBS’ Online Film Festival, accessible beginning March 4 via all PBS digital platforms, YouTube and PBS social media channels, will showcase 25 short films that feature a diversity of subjects, voices and viewpoints.
The featured films were produced by a number public media partners, including Independent Television Service (ITVS), POV, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Vision Maker Media, National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC) and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). This year’s festival also includes films from PBS stations KCTS 9 (Seattle), KLRU (Austin), PBS SoCaL (Los Angeles), WGTE (Toledo) and WCVE (Richmond, Virginia).
Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite short film from March 4 through March 22; the film with the most votes will receive the People’s Choice Award. The winning film will be announced in early April.
“As we’ve seen with PBS Digital Studios, the appetite for well-produced video on the web is growing substantially. Last year, Americans viewed more than 38 billion videos online a month,” said Jason Seiken, PBS General Manager, Digital. “The Online Film Festival is a great example of how we can leverage the web’s reach to showcase the terrific work of our producing partners, including the work of PBS member stations. We see the Online Film Festival as another example of how PBS and our partners are innovating and experimenting with different formats and platforms.”
Independent Film Showcase Kicks Off Fall 2013
This fall, PBS will present a four-week multi-platform Independent Film Showcase (broadcast dates TBD). The Showcase will feature films from the landmark series POV and INDEPENDENT LENS, which together provide a year-round broadcast footprint for independent filmmakers on public television. The Showcase is slated to take place during the weeks between the seasons of POV and INDEPENDENT LENS.
In addition to broadcast content, the festival will connect audiences with related online and mobile content, as well as opportunities to participate locally with their public television stations.
“While PBS offers independent film programming year-round, we devised this film showcase to help shine a spotlight on the exceptional programming coming from POV and INDEPENDENT LENS,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President of Programming, PBS. “With an impressive line-up of films crossing different genres and themes, we hope the Showcase will be a draw for existing independent film fans as well as new viewers.”
The featured films include the following (air dates are TBD):
“56 Up” – POV
A film by Michael Apted
“56 Up” is the eighth film in a series of landmark documentaries that began 49 years ago when UK-based Granada’s World in Action team, inspired by the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” interviewed a diverse group of seven-year-old children from all over England, asking them about their lives and their dreams for the future. Michael Apted, a researcher for the original film, has returned to interview the “children” every seven years since, at ages 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, and now at age 56. In this latest chapter, more life-changing decisions are revealed, more shocking announcements are made and more of the original group takes part than ever before, speaking out on a variety of subjects including love, marriage, career and class.
“Brooklyn Castle” – POV
A film by Katie Dellamaggiore
Imagine a school where the cool kids are the chess team. Welcome to I.S. 318. “Brooklyn Castle” tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country. The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives — and on the chessboard — and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is about anticipation of their victories.
“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” – INDEPENDENT LENS
A film by Ramona Diaz
For Arnel Pineda, the past five years have been the stuff that dreams are made of. In 2007, his friend began uploading videos of the aspiring Filipino singer covering classic rock songs onto YouTube. One of the videos was seen by Neal Schon, guitarist for the iconic rock band Journey. Blown away by Pineda’s talent and uncanny vocal similarity to former Journey front man Steve Perry, Schon flew Pineda from Manila to San Francisco to audition for the band. The rest is history. But Pineda’s personal journey had just begun. His mother died when he was 12 and he ended up on the streets. And with no classical music training, he was anything but prepared for the grueling physical and emotional strains that come from fronting a rock band on a whirlwind world tour. Can a man who has already overcome so many obstacles deal with the demands of his newfound fame?
“The Waiting Room” – INDEPENDENT LENS
A film by Peter Nicks
“The Waiting Room” is an immersive documentary film that interweaves several stories that unfold in surprising ways in the ER waiting room at Oakland, California’s Highland Hospital — a facility stretched to the breaking point. The film is an intimate rendering of the story of our health care system at a moment of great change, told through the eyes of people stuck — sometimes for up to 14 hours — in the waiting room. The program tells the story of a remarkably diverse population battling their way through seismic shifts in the nation’s health care system while weathering the storm of a national recession. It’s a film about one hospital, its multifaceted community, and how our common vulnerability to illness binds us together. “This is the rare film that can change the way you think and see the world,” says The San Francisco Chronicle.
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