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.
Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (#206) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Once known as the California Riviera, the Salton Sea is now called one of America's worst ecological disasters: a fetid, stagnant, salty lake, that coughs up dead fish and birds by the thousands in frequent die-offs that occur. However, amongst the ruins of this man-made mistake, a few remaining eccentrics (a roadside nudist, a religious folk artist, a Hungarian revolutionary, and real estate speculators) struggle to keep a remodeled version of the original Salton Sea dream alive. Accidentally created by an engineering error in 1905, reworked in the 50's as a world class vacation destination for the rich and famous, suddenly abandoned after a series of hurricanes, floods, and fish die-offs, and finally almost saved by Congressman Sonny Bono, the Salton Sea has a bittersweet past. The film shares these people's stories and their difficulties in keeping their unique community alive, as the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Diego attempt to take the agricultural water run-off that barely sustains the Salton Sea. While covering the historical, economic, political, and environmental issues that face the Sea, this program offers an offbeat portrait of the peculiar and individualistic people who populate its shores. It is an epic western tale of fantastic real estate ventures and failed boomtowns, inner-city gangs fleeing to white small town America, and the subjective notion of success and failure amidst the ruins of the past.
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek (#219) Duration: 1:23:27 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This program follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Derrick and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face ordeals that include Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.
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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.
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.
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.
Reserved to Fight (#221) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
In May 2003, Fox Company of Marine Reserve Unit 2/23 returned home from front-line combat in Iraq. Reserved To Fight follows four Marines of Fox Company for four years through their postwar minefield of social and psychological reintegration into civilian life. The return to their communities proves as formidable a battle as the more literal firefights of previous months. Living among loved ones who don't yet understand them and how they have changed, contending with a media focused on the politics rather than the human experience of war, and suffering from a psychological disorder that is difficult to acknowledge, these young veterans grapple to find purpose and healing.