Through the lens of independent films, this series tells the many stories of a transforming American culture and its broad diversity. It takes an unfiltered look at relevant domestic topics (healthcare, immigration, the workplace, and politics) with personal storytelling tied to programming social themes. The series showcases films that will give viewers a "snapshot" of the transforming American life - the guts, the glory, the grit of a new and changing America. From contemporary life on Native American reservations to stories of recovery on the Gulf, from hardships and revitalization in towns big and small, to stories from city streets across the country, these independent, personal and opinionated films document the times in which we live.
Broken Heart Land (#222) Duration: 1:39:18 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
On an early autumn afternoon, in his parent's ranch in Norman, Oklahoma, gay teen Zack Harrington killed himself with a gunshot to the head. One week earlier, Zack attended a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBTQ History Month in his bible-belt town. When the floor was opened up for public comment, some community members made highly controversial statements equating being gay with the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Against the backdrop of a town bitterly divided on the issue of homosexuality, Zack's grief-stricken parents, both conservative Republicans and military veterans, are forced to reconcile their own social and political beliefs with their son's death. Determined to understand Zack, they discover a private diary, which paints a gripping portrait of a boy in crisis. Ultimately, they discover a chilling secret that Zack kept hidden for almost two years, which leads them to some painful conclusions about their son's life and death. When an outspoken conservative citizen runs for City Council, the Harringtons decide to join a politically active group called "MOMS: Mothers of Many" (mainly comprised of local mothers of LGBTQ youth). Over the course of the local election season, we witness Zack's family, once private and politically conservative, come out of their own closet, moving from private denial to a climactic and very public acceptance of their son's legacy.
Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury (#310) Duration: 1:05:36 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
At the age of 45 Laury Sacks, an ebullient actress and the doting mother of two small children, had a reputation as the quickest wit in the room. At the age of 46, she began forgetting words. Soon she could barely speak. Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury, is one year in the long, but short journey of frontotemporal dementia, a little-understood disease that strikes people in the prime of life.
Rachel Is (#216) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Filmmaker Charlotte Glynn moves home to chronicle her sister Rachel's last year in school. Rachel is developmentally disabled, and the resulting film, Rachel is, moves past the safety of political correctness and into the most intimate and honest moments in their family's life. Rachel is mysterious, funny, difficult and full of contradictions but she wants what most people her age want -- to move out of her mother's house. This dream of independence seems impossible. Rachel can't be left alone and the social services needed for her to live an "adult life" are unavailable.
Endless Abilities (#321) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
In the spring of 2012, four best friends drove across the country in search of adaptive sports for individuals with physical disabilities, and lived to tell the story in a feature documentary film. From rehabilitation patients to Paralympic athletes, our cameras captured the reality of broken boundaries and common goals among all who are active. We went rock climbing with the blind, played soccer with quadriplegics, and swam with those with muscular dystrophy, to name a few. Through our journey, we learned that sports really are the great equalizer, unifying people of all abilities on a level playing field.
A Will for the Woods (#308) Duration: 1:29:26 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial, determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth. He has discovered a movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing toxic, wasteful funeral practices engineered to preserve the body at the ecosystem's expense. Clark, a spirited and charismatic advocate, sets out to save a tract of forest with the help of green burial pioneers and a compassionate local cemeterian.
Drivers Wanted (#211) Duration: 54:16 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This program reveals the impossibly eclectic community inhabiting a taxi garage in Queens, New York. Each day, a million New Yorkers depend on the anonymous faces behind the wheels, the men who tirelessly drive the city that doesn't sleep. The film follows Eric, a new immigrant from China with a fresh start in America. With dreams of his own business, and a wife and two young sons to support, he turns to a simple job - driving a taxicab. But the easy route proves to be a Herculean struggle for Eric, who can neither speak the language of his customers nor navigate the city's 6,174 miles of streets. Along for Eric's ride, we meet classic New York personalities, including the city's oldest taxi driver, the rumored inspiration behind Danny DeVito's Louie DePalma, and a melting pot of immigrants with dreams of making it in America.
Dignity Harbor (#220) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
1 of 9 documentary nominees for the 2012 Student Academy Award, this film chronicles a group of homeless people living in an encampment along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis. In the shadow of the Arch, several makeshift communities - Hopeville, Sparta,and Dignity Harbor - are erected when work begins to fill the tunnels under Tucker Boulevard, displacing many homeless. ,br>In this doc, the self-appointed mayor promises a safe environment - women are especially to be welcomed - and the residents work cooperatively to cut wood and build rudimentary shelters. But conflicts inevitably arise, tempers occasionally flare, and everyone struggles to survive the harsh St. Louis winter. Although the utopian dream finally dies for good when the city bulldozes the shantytowns, not all is lost, with several of the residents moving to more permanent housing.
If You Build It (#322) Duration: 1:29:24 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This documentary follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what's possible.
Downeast (#210) Duration: 1:21:58 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Set during an era of US post-industrialization in which numerous factories have been exported, this program focuses on Antonio Bussone's efforts to open a processing factory in rural Maine.
The Prep School Negro (#212) Duration: 1:25:52 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Andre Robert Lee and his sister grew up in the ghettos of Philadelphia. Their mother struggled to support them by putting strings in the waistbands of track pants and swimsuits in a local factory. When Andre was 14 years old, he received what his family believed to be a golden ticket, a full scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Elite education was Andre's way up and out, but at what price? Yes, the exorbitant tuition was covered, but this new world cost him and his family much more than anyone could have anticipated.
In this program, Andre takes a journey back in time to revisit the events of his adolescence while also spending time with current day prep school students of color and their classmates to see how much has really changed inside the ivory tower. What he discovers along the way is the poignant and unapologetic truth about who really pays the consequences for yesterday's accelerated desegregation and today's racial naivete.
The Hill (#306) Duration: 1:29:48 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Clinging to the last affordable housing in a rapidly gentrifying city, a determined group of neighbors struggle to save their homes from destruction when the City of New Haven, CT proposes to build a new school complex where their properties stand.
Stable Life (#311) Duration: 53:38 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Dionicia M. lives in the stables at a California racetrack and works long hours caring for racehorses while her teenage son Jose Luis is turning heads as a hotshot apprentice jockey. Dionicia and Jose Luis have gambled their futures on the hardscrabble sport of horse racing. Will they succeed or will their lack of immigration papers prevent them from achieving the stable life of their dreams?