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Social Documentary

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.

The American Revolution: A conversation with filmmaker, Bill Lichtenstein

Bill Lichtenstein interviewing WBCN's Charles Laquidara for film,  Photo credit: Jay Rooney

WBCN brought humanity to the airwaves; a new rhythm to life; a cast of characters we loved and identified with (Charles, Sam, Tommy, Jim, Bill, JJ, Mississippi, Al...); music which evolved as the world changed; real news reflecting real happenings, without the taint of corporate America (thanks to Danny Schechter); and a sense of community that brought several generations together. We lived and loved well, and through it all was WBCN. I think we all need to reconnect with those values and realize how important WBCN was to us, and to the community.”

Dan Beach (kickstarter supporter and WBCN listener)

Pull Focus: Suzan Beraza

Founder of Reel Thing, Suzan Beraza's films have appeared on national public television in the United States, and at many festivals, winning top awards at Worldfest, Montreal Film Festival, and Mountainfilm in Telluride, among others. Previous films include Life's A Beach, American Outrage, Blue Planet Run, Water, A Clear Solution and Troubled Waters: The Dilemma of Dams.

Beraza's latest film, "Bag It," follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he tries to make sense of our dependence on plastic bags. Although his quest starts out small, Jeb soon learns that the problem extends past landfills to oceans, rivers and ultimately human health. The average American uses about 500 plastic bags each year, for about twelve minutes each. This single-use mentality has led to the formation of a floating island of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Texas. The film explores these issues and identifies how our daily reliance on plastic threatens not only waterways and marine life, but human health, too. Two of the most common plastic additives are endocrine disruptors, which have been shown to link to cancer, diabetes, autism, attention deficit disorder, obesity and infertility.