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.
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.
Lulu Sessions (#213) Duration: 1:27:15 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
LuLu is unlike anyone you've ever met. A hard-living, chain-smoking rebel with a tender heart. A poet with a potty mouth. Farm girl. Former cheerleader. World-class cancer researcher. Beloved professor. Dr. Louise Nutter, or LuLu has just discovered a new anti-cancer drug when she finds out she is dying of breast cancer herself at 42. Shot during those last 15 months of LuLu's life, this program is a raw, intimate, yet surprisingly humorous story about the filmmaker showing up for her best friend and ex-something, and together, testing the limits of their bond while taking on life's ultimate adventure.
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.
Purgatorio (#301) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Reyes' provocative essay film re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante's purgatory. Leaving politics aside, he takes a fresh look at the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell. By capturing a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes that live on the US/Mexico border, the filmmaker reflects on the flaws of human nature and the powerful absurdities of the modern world. An unusual border film, in the auteur tradition of camera-stylo, Purgatorio ultimately becomes a fable of humanity, an epic and visceral experience with powerful and lingering images.
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (#209) Duration: 1:29:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This program tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. At the film's historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization and emptied American cities of their residents, businesses, and industries. Those left behind in the city faced a destitute, rapidly de-industrializing St. Louis, parceled out to downtown interests and increasingly segregated by class and race. The residents of Pruitt-Igoe were among the hardest hit. Their gripping stories of survival, adaptation, and success are at the emotional heart of the film.
Trash Dance (#302) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and in the unseen men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew Garrison follows Orr as she rides along with Austin sanitation workers on their daily routes to observe and later convince them to perform a most unlikely spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks deliver - for one night only - a stunningly beautiful and moving performance, in front of an audience of thousands.
American Heart (#303) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Seven years in the making, American Heart takes viewers on an intimate journey into the lives of three refugees who now call Minnesota home. All of them confront life-threatening health emergencies throughout the course of the film, and their trajectories prove surprising even to their doctors. At the center of it all is a remarkable health clinic, tucked away in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. The HealthPartners Center for International Health serves a diverse population of refugees and immigrants from around the world. American Heart is directed by Minneapolis filmmaker Chris Newberry.
Guacho Del Norte (#304) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Since the 1970's, shepherds from South America have been brought to work in the American west. The film follows Eraldo Pacheco, a Chilean, on his journey to Idaho on a three-year contract.