About This Program
Independent Lens is television's largest showcase of independent documentary films made by some of the best independent filmmakers working today. The award-winning series introduces an incredible array of unique characters from in the United States and around the world, bringing their rich stories to even wider, more diverse audiences while engaging communities in conversations and providing an authentic space for many voices.
Independent Lens is produced by the Independent Television Service.
Episodes from Season 14 - W/S (2016-2017)
Independent Lens: Meet the Patels
A real-life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an Indian American actor/comedian who enters into a love triangle between the woman of his dreams — and his parents. In what started as a family video, this warmly humorous film filled with unique animation and a soulful soundtrack reveals how, for a Patel, love is truly a family affair.
Independent Lens: Containment
How can we contain some of the deadliest, most long-lasting substances ever produced? Left over from the Cold War are a hundred million gallons of radioactive sludge. Containment explores our attempts to plan for our radioactive future and reveals the startling failure to manage waste in the present, epitomized by the Fukushima disaster.
Independent Lens: What Was Ours
For the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, new contact with lost artifacts risks opening old wounds but also offer the possibility for healing. A journalist, powwow princess and elder search for missing artifacts in the archives of a museum and discover ancestral objects, setting them on a journey to recover what has been lost.
Independent Lens: The Witness
In March 1964, Kitty Genovese was repeatedly stabbed on a street in Kew Gardens, Queens. The Witness follows the efforts of Kitty’s brother as he launches his own investigation into his sister’s life and death. In the process, he makes startling discoveries about the crime that transformed his life, condemned a city and defined an era.
Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement
In 1915, African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly blockbuster The Birth of a Nation, which unleashed a fight still raging today about race relations and representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood.
Independent Lens: Accidental Courtesy
Musician Daryl Davis has played all over the world with legends like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. He also has an unusual and controversial hobby. Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the KKK, many of whom have never met a black person. When some of these same people decide to leave the Klan, Daryl keeps their robes and hoods.
Independent Lens: TOWER
On August 1, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. TOWER is the gripping story of America's first mass school shooting.
Independent Lens: The Bad Kids
Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is an alternative school for at-risk students. Every student there has fallen so far behind - this is their last chance. But Principal Vonda Viland and the teachers are on a mission: to realize the potential of students who were deemed lost causes by the system.
Independent Lens: Ovarian Psycos
The Ovarian Psycos are a new generation of fierce, unapologetic and feminist women of color who confront injustice, build community, and redefine identity. The film traces how the “Ovas” emerged from the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, a community situated within the historic legacy of the Chicano/a Civil Rights Movement.
Independent Lens: Newtown
On December 14, 2012, a disturbed young man committed a horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT that took the lives of 20 elementary school children and six educators. Newtown tells the story of the aftermath, documenting a traumatized community still reeling from the senseless killing, fractured by grief but driven toward a sense of purpose.
Independent Lens: SEED - The Untold Story
Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. SEED: The Untold Story follows seed keepers intent on protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy, exploring the hidden fabric of our food and the people that painstakingly and meticulously curate its diversity, in an era of climate uncertainty and immense corporate power.
Independent Lens: The Last Laugh
The Holocaust would seem to be an off-limits topic for comedy. History shows that even victims of Nazi concentration camps used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any use of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. Where is the line? This film offers fresh insights into these questions.
Independent Lens: National Bird
Follows the journey of three whistleblowers determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war, which has been waged globally for more than a decade. The film gives rare insight into the program through the eyes of veterans and survivors, to explore the complexities of drone warfare.
Independent Lens: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
In the United States there are 2.2 million people in prison, up from only 300,000 forty years ago, yet for most Americans, prisons have never felt more distant or more out of sight. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes excavates the hidden world of the modern prison system and explores lives outside the gates affected by prisons.
Independent Lens: Forever Pure
An Israeli soccer club's fans waged a racist campaign after their team, Beitar, added two Muslim players from Chechnya. Forever Pure examines the clash between personal identity, politics, money and sports, and how racism has the potential to destroy not only a team but an entire society.
Independent Lens: They Call Us Monsters
They Call Us Monsters goes behind the walls of the Compound, a high-security facility where Los Angeles houses its most violent juvenile criminals. To their advocates, they’re kids. To the system, they’re adults. To their victims, they’re monsters.
Independent Lens: Farmer/Veteran
Home from three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton forges a new identity as a farmer. Farmer/Veteran shows Alex diving into life on the farm with new love Jessica, while the traumas of war linger on. The farm becomes a terrain to unearth what is buried, what it really means to be “the perfect soldier,” and where to find the way forward.
Independent Lens: Real Boy
Follows the journey of trans teen Bennett as he navigates adolescence, sobriety, and the physical and emotional ramifications of his changing gender identity. Through the process, his mother Suzy makes her own transformation — travelling a difficult road toward accepting that the daughter she raised as Rachael is now her son Bennett.