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#PBSNeedsIndies Catches Fire

Kartemquin FilmsHundreds of documentary filmmakers have signed on to the open letter to PBS that Kartemquin Films posted only a week ago.  Among the signatories: Barbara Kopple, Bill Moyers, Alex Gibney, Michael Moore, Joan Churchill, Jennifer Fox, Chuck Workman and other major award-winners. (Signatures still are being accepted.) Filmmakers are, in the technical language that IndieWIRE employed, pissed. Read more...

Pull Focus: Heather Courtney

Heather Courtney is a filmmaker and cinematographer based in Austin, Texas. She has produced several films for PBS, including "Letters from the Other Side", which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2006 and screened at the South by Southwest International Film Festival (SXSW), as well as other film festivals. Heather also organized over 20 grassroots screenings with churches, schools, and community centers all over Texas. In Fall 2006, LETTERS was broadcast on over 60 PBS stations across the country.

Her previous film, "Los Trabajadores/The Workers", won the Audience Award at SXSW in 2001 and an International Documentary Association award, and was broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens.

In her most recent film, "Where Soldiers Come From", Heather returned to her hometown in northern Michigan to follow the lives of a group of 20-year-old friends before, during and after their National Guard deployment to Afghanistan. The 2012 Independent Spirit awards recognized "Where Soldiers Come From" with the "Truer than Fiction" honor.

(Photo and Biography adapted from New Day Films)


Antiques or Independents? Why it Matters Where PBS Puts Independent Lens and POV

ITVSPBS, the biggest of the programming services for public TV, has reschedPOVuled two programs that showcase independent producers’ work from across the nationIndependent Lens and POV. The results could put the future of those programs at risk, because of declining viewership. Read more...

SXSW 2012: Art as Process

Wonder WomenSeveral docs at SXSW 2012 charmed me for their portrayal of artistic processes. "Wonder Women," at a crisp 62 minutes, was a delicious journey through decades of popular culture. Kristy Guevara-Flanagan interweaves the evolution of women superheroes, from the original Wonder Woman comic through Charlie’s Angels, Buffy, Riot Grrrls and beyond, and the history of modern feminism. Read more...

SXSW 2012: Culture from the Inside

SXSW FilmSome of my faves at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival were documentaries that track the evolution of a culture from the inside.

Two of them focused on the emergent practice of public data-hacking/dumping. Both Patrick Forbes’ "Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies" and Brian Knappenberger’s "We Are Legion" take on their subjects with journalistic curiosity and an eye for the oddball. Both are mostly B-roll with interviews, but they provide rich insight into processes.