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.
Deputized (#218) Duration: 1:00:17 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
In the aftermath of a senseless hate crime, an all-American town finds itself desperately seeking answers: What really killed Marcelo Lucero? In a deceptively peaceful Long Island town just before midnight on November 8, 2008, 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero is assaulted by a group of teenaged boys cruising the streets "beaner-hopping," a term used to describe the decade-long ritual of attacking Latinos for sport. The adolescent ?game? comes to an end with the fatal stabbing of Lucero, exposing a thinly veiled systemic intolerance for immigrants. Seventeen-year-old Jeffery Conroy, a popular high school athlete, is sentenced to 25-years for a hate crime, while the other teens get 5 to 8-years behind bars.
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 New Public (#204) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This program follows the lives of the ambitious educators and lively students of Bed Stuy's new Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School (BCAM) over the course of the founding year, with the filmmakers returning three years later to again document the senior year of that first graduating class. Beginning in August 2006, just days before BCAM will open its doors for the first time. Dr. James O'Brien, former D.J. and point guard turned first-time principal, and his faculty of eight, take to the streets in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn to recruit students. Their enthusiasm is infectious and enticing: strong support for the individual student, a rigorous academic curriculum and unconventional arts electives taught by local artists. While at first running smoothly, as months go by, conflicts arise, and by the end of freshman year, the school's idealistic vision is addressing some issues, but aggravating others. Flash-forward to September 2010, the first day of senior year, the school is complete with 4 grades and 450 students, with a faculty that has grown from 8 to 50. Of the 104 students in their founding class, almost half have transferred or dropped out, leaving a senior class of 60 and only 30 on track to graduate. BCAM has made major adjustments, most notably, more disciplinary structure and no arts electives for seniors. What happens in the 4 years is both compelling and frustrating, and it's what makes The New Public a critical document of the complexities, frustrations and personal dramas that put public education at the center of national debate. What makes a kid or a school succeed are a series of complicated, interconnected dynamics, including, a re-evaluation of how we define success.
Push: Madison Vs. Madison (#104) Duration: 1:53:50 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Madison Park Vocational, Roxbury, Massachusetts. A dysfunctional but talented high school hoops team tries to hold itself together. Graced with a handful of sharp shooters and savvy ball-handlers, they also struggle, both on and off the court, in a deteriorating public school system and the turbulence of life in the Boston inner city: rival gangs, a chilling murder rate, destructive families, and the struggle to stay in school and on the team.
Closing in on the end of the season, the team has a shot at a state championship and an undefeated season for the first time in history. At the center of this kettle of hope and chaos is Coach Dennis Wilson, a unique hero for our times. A former semi-professional player, philosophizing history teacher and motor-mouthing disciplinarian, Coach Wilson chants, harasses and cajoles his charges onto the court, asking them: "Whose house is this? Whose game is this? What kinda pride you got?" But is Coach Wilson the MP solution or just getting sucked into the problem? As the team heads into the its final regular season games and tournament showdowns, MP Pride will be sorely tested.
Mothers of Bedford (#215) Duration: 1:59:27 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
80% of women in US prisons today are mothers of school-age children. Filmmaker Jenifer McShane spent 4 years visiting Bedford Hills and following the women and their families. A mother herself, Jenifer was drawn to the universal themes of motherhood and the staggering power of the mother-child relationship. In all walks of life, mother and child care for each other. As we watch the mothers inside Bedford trying to become their better selves, we see parts of our own selves - and that gives us all hope.
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.
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.
Broken Heart Land (#222) Duration: 1:59:18 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.