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PBS and WNET Keep Independent Documentary in Primetime

After months of public and private discussion that raised fundamental questions about the purpose of public TV, PBS and WNET have struck an agreement to support the public TV series that showcase diverse, independent voices: Independent Lens and POV. Read more...

THE MAMA SHERPAS Premieres in Los Angeles on May 27

The Mama SherpasIncoming Co-Director at CMSI, Brigid Maher, announced today the acquisition of her upcoming documentary The Mama Sherpas, by BOND/360 and executive producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. The Mama Sherpas will premiere on May 27th in Los Angeles, followed by regional, VOD and DVD releases.

"I'm humbled and honored to have Abby and Ricki come on board as Executive Producers," said Maher, associate professor in American University’s School of Communication. "Their 2008 film The Business of Business Born had a groundbreaking impact on how women made choices around birth and inspired me to tell the story of hospital midwives who are working to bring the C-section rate down through their women based approach. Read more...

Diverse Voices Matter for Public Television

Indie Caucus SpeakeasyIndependent filmmakers are preparing to hear whether WNET and PBS officials will make any changes to programming decisions after engaging in a National Listening Tour.  In a recent The Pub podcast, WNET Vice President for Programming Stephen Segaller referred to feedback from the Listening Tour as “predictable,” “unanimous,” and filmmaker backlash to change, despite the many testimonials that came from constituents beyond the documentary community. Look no further than the New York Times Op-Ed by legendary American television writer and producer Norman Lear, “Is PBS Neglecting Its Mission?”

What was the “predictable” message delivered from community members and filmmakers alike? Read more...

Do Filmmakers Know Their Rights?

MaidanConversation on the filmmaker v. journalist distinction that happened at Sundance was also picked up at this year’s True/False Film Fest. Filmmakers who took some big risks took part in an “I Know My Rights” discussion that perhaps should have been more of a question than a statement. Nick Broomfield (Tales of the Grim Sleeper), David Felix Sutcliffe ((T)ERROR), Matthew Hieneman (Cartel Land) and Serhy Stetsenko (Maidan) spoke to many of the issues covered in the Center report released in February: “Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk When Telling Truth to Power.” Read more...

Dollars, Doughnuts and Distribution

Photo by Rebecca Allen via True/False Film FestA few dollars and a doughnut are what most filmmakers can expect to have leftover after a distribution deal has been milked by distributor, exhibitor, sales agent, deliverables and marketing costs. Prospects for money from this traditional model are grim according to a panel discussion at the 2015 True/False Film Fest, and self-distribution is the way to go. Read more...