By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz June 22, 2014 at 8:00AM
The 27th season of the acclaimed POV series begins on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 10 p.m. on PBS and continues weekly through Sept. 22. The season, featuring 13 new independent nonfiction films and an encore broadcast, concludes with a special presentation in fall 2014.
In "When I Walk", a young up-and-coming filmmaker discovers he has multiple sclerosis. To cope, he decides to use the art of filmmaking to look at his new reality. In the Oscar-nominated "The Act of Killing," a group of unrepentant Indonesian mass murderers re-enact their crimes in a surreal performance that mimics the Hollywood movies they grew up with, and shocks a nation. In "The Genius of Marian," a mother's watercolors help a daughter suffering with Alzheimer's grasp family memories.
The art of politics is also on display in Koch, a history of the life and times of New York City's former mayor Ed Koch that is as rollicking and unconventional as the man himself, in "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs," about a fiery activist who urges today's movers and shakers to think in entirely new ways, and in "Getting Back to Abnormal," in which a New Orleans politician prone to putting her foot in her mouth gets an education in street smarts and the city's divergent cultures.
POV recently announced a collaboration with The New York Times to premiere new documentaries on the organization's websites. The first film, "The Men of Atalissa" by Dan Barry and Kassie Bracken, produced by The New York Times, can be seen on www.pbs.org/pov and www.nytimes.com . In addition, POV will renew its media partnership with New York flagship public radio station WNYC.
"Documentaries no longer exist on the cultural margins; they have become an essential tool in how we explore and experience the world," said POV Executive Producer Simon Kilmurry. "The work produced by these filmmakers is remarkable and important, engaging, daring and entertaining. And it's exciting to see how audiences celebrate and embrace these stories."
"POV programs take you on a journey, whether traveling alongside a politician, a person grappling with a debilitating illness or an individual in love for the first time," said POV Co-Executive Producer Cynthia Lopez. "As always, POV films deliver a emotional punch with superbly crafted storytelling. This season promises to be a powerful roller coaster ride."
POV 2014 Schedule
Jason DaSilva was 25 years old and a rising independent filmmaker when a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis changed everything, and inspired him to make another film. When I Walk is a candid and brave chronicle of one young man's struggle to adapt to the harsh realities of M.S. while holding on to his personal and creative life. With his body growing weaker, DaSilva's spirits, and his film, get a boost from his mother's tough love and the support of Alice Cook, who becomes his wife and filmmaking partner. The result is a life-affirming documentary filled with unexpected moments of joy and humor. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. Winner, Audience Award, 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. Festival. A co-presentation with CAAM.
Who better to cover the Paralympics, the international sporting event for athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, than Niko von Glasow, the world's best-known disabled filmmaker? Unfortunately, or fortunately for anyone seeking an insightful and funny documentary, this filmmaker frankly hates sports and thinks the games are "a stupid idea." Born with severely shortened arms, von Glasow serves as an endearing guide to London's Paralympics competition in "My Way to Olympia." As he meets a one-handed Norwegian table tennis player, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team, an American archer without arms and a Greek paraplegic boccia player, his own stereotypes about disability and sports get delightfully punctured. Official Selection of the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.
What happens when America's most joyous, dysfunctional city rebuilds itself after a disaster? New Orleans is the setting for "Getting Back to Abnormal," a film that serves up a provocative mix of race, corruption and politics to tell the story of the re-election campaign of Stacy Head, a white woman in a city council seat traditionally held by a black representative. Supported by her irrepressible African-American aide Barbara Lacen-Keller, Head polarizes the city as her candidacy threatens to diminish the power and influence of its black citizens. Featuring a cast of characters as colorful as the city itself, the film presents a New Orleans that outsiders rarely see. Official Selection of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.
A co-production of ITVS.
Professional ballroom dancing is very big in little Denmark. Since success in this intensely competitive art depends on finding the right partner, aspiring Danish dancers often look beyond their borders to find their matches. In Dance for Me, 15-year-old Russian performer Egor leaves home and family to team up with 14-year-old Mie, one of Denmark's most promising young dancers. Strikingly different, Egor and Mie bond over their passion for Latin dance, and for winning. As they head to the championships, so much is at stake: emotional bonds, career and the future. Dance for Me is a poetic coming-of-age story, with a global twist and thrilling dance moves.
Airing with "Dance for Me" is the StoryCorps animated short A Good Man by The Rauch Brothers. Bryan Wilmoth and his seven younger siblings were raised in a strict, religious home. He talks to his brother Mike about what it was like to reconnect years after their dad kicked Bryan out for being gay. Major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.
In today's go-go China, an old city completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake can be rebuilt, boasting new and improved civic amenities, in an astoundingly quick two years. But, as "Fallen City" reveals, the journey from the ruined old city of Beichuan to the new Beichuan nearby is long and heartbreaking for the survivors. Three families struggle with loss, most strikingly the loss of children and grandchildre, and feelings of loneliness, fear and dislocation that no amount of propaganda can disguise. First-time director Qi Zhao offers an intimate look at a country torn between tradition and modernity. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS International.
A co-presentation with CAAM.
Does sentencing a teenager to life without parole serve our society well? The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison. This is the story of one of those children, now a young man, seeking a second chance in Florida. At age 15, Kenneth Young received four consecutive life sentences for a series of armed robberies. Imprisoned for more than a decade, he believed he would die behind bars. Now a U.S. Supreme Court decision could set him free. "15 to Life: Kenneth's Story" follows Youn's struggle for redemption, revealing a justice system with thousands of young people serving sentences intended for society's most dangerous criminals.
Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the "neurotypical" world, the world of the non-autistic, revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.
"A World Not Ours" is a passionate, bittersweet account of one familyâs multi-generational experience living as permanent refugees. Now a Danish resident, director Mahdi Fleifel grew up in the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, established in 1948 as a temporary refuge for exiled Palestinians. Today, the camp houses 70,000 people and is the hometown of generations of Palestinians. The filmmakerâs childhood memories are surprisingly warm and humorous, a testament to the resilience of the community. Yet his yearly visits reveal the increasing desperation of family and friends who remain trapped in psychological as well as political limbo. Official Selection of the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.
Over five years, director Rachel Boynton and her cinematographer film the quest for oil in Ghana by Dallas-based Kosmos. The company develops the country's first commercial oil field, yet its success is quickly compromised by political intrigue and accusations of corruption. As Ghanaians wait to reap the benefits of oil, the filmmakers discover violent resistance down the coast in the Niger Delta, where poor Nigerians have yet to prosper from decades-old oil fields. "Big Men," executive produced by Brad Pitt, provides an unprecedented inside look at the global deal making and dark underside of energy development, a contest for money and power that is reshaping the world. Official Selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
"After Tiller" is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, "After Tiller" presents the complexities of these women's difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients. Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
"The Genius of Marian" is a visually rich, emotionally complex story about one family's struggle to come to terms with Alzheimer's disease. After Pam White is diagnosed at age 61 with early-onset Alzheimer's, life begins to change, slowly but irrevocably, for Pam and everyone around her. Her husband grapples with his role as it evolves from primary partner to primary caregiver. Pam's adult children find ways to show their love and support while mourning the gradual loss of their mother. Her eldest son, Banker, records their conversations, allowing Pam to share memories of childhood and of her mother, the renowned painter Marian Williams Steele, who had Alzheimer's herself and died in 2001.
POV is preempted on Sept. 15 and returns the following week.
New York City mayors have a world stage on which to strut, and they have made legendary use of it. Yet few have matched the bravado, combativeness and egocentricity that Ed Koch brought to the office during his three terms from 1978 to 1989. As Neil Barskyâs Koch recounts, Koch was more than the blunt, funny man New Yorkers either loved or hated. Elected in the 1970s during the cityâs fiscal crisis, he was a new Democrat for the dawning Reagan era, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Koch finds the former mayor politically active to the end (he died in 2013), still winning the affection of many New Yorkers while driving others to distraction.
In fall 2014 POV presents a special broadcast (date and time to be announced):
Nominated for an Academy Award, The Act of Killing is as dreamlike and terrifying as anything that Werner Herzog (one of the executive producers) could imagine. This film explores a horrifying era in Indonesian history and provides a window into modern Indonesia, where corruption reigns. Not only is the 1965 murder of an estimated one million people honored as a patriotic act, but the killers remain in power. In a mind-bending twist, death-squad leaders dramatize their brutal deeds in the style of the American westerns, musicals and gangster movies they love, and play both themselves and their victims. As their heroic facade crumbles, they come to question what they've done. Winner, 2014 BAFTA Film Award, Best Documentary.