About This Season
Through the lens of independent documentaries, America ReFramed brings to national audiences compelling stories that illuminate the changing contours of an ever-evolving America. The 26-week, social-issue documentary series presents an array of personal voices and experiences through which we learn from our past, understand our present and are challenged to seek new frameworks for America’s future.
Season three of America ReFramed curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging to veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from the streets of towns big and small to the ex-burbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. The documentaries invite audiences to reflect on topics as varied as culture, healthcare, politics, gun violence, religion and more. Hosted by journalist Natasha Del Toro, several episodes will feature a roundtable discussion with special guest commentators and filmmakers.
America ReFramed in its first season won five 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and recently was nominated for its second national Imagen Award, which honors films featuring Latinos and their culture in television and film.
America ReFramed is a co-production of American Documentary, Inc. and WORLD Channel. Funding for season three of America ReFramed is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Leaving politics aside, Rodrigo Reyes’s Purgatorio looks anew at the U.S./Mexico border and the people caught in its spell. The evocative Dantesque essay film presents the border as a mythical place exploring the vulnerability of the human soul, the violence man creates and the destruction left in its wake.
Allison Orr found inspiration in the movement of garbage trucks and graceful dynamics of the workers who operate them. She transforms the skepticism and reluctance of her subjects into a complete commitment to dance. On an abandoned runway, the sanitation professionals and their trucks perform a stunning spectacle, awing an audience of thousands.
In Minnesota, devoted doctors in a primary care clinic meet the health care needs of refugees and immigrants wrestling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as chronic and compounded prognoses. In addition to medication, they treat their patients with spoonfuls of hope, cultural competency and compassion.
Gaucho del Norte
Gaucho del Norte tells the story of a Patagonian sheepherder recruited to work in Idaho. The nomadic journey follows Eraldo Pacheco and his herd of more than a thousand sheep across a lonely, rugged landscape. He faces the ups and downs of a psychologically and physically demanding job far away from family, questioning whether or not it's worth it.
In the '80s, the desegregation of U.S. public schools peaked, but since then, schools have become even more segregated (Civil Rights Project). Our Mockingbird highlights the experiences of teens from two Birmingham, Alabama high schools -- one all black and one all white -- who collaborate on a production of the play, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Set upon building a new school, New Haven claims eminent domain over the Upper Hill neighborhood. With community leaders and a lawyer, a group of neighbors, mostly low-income African-American families, take the case to court. The Hill is a fascinating look at the complex issues surrounding urban planning, gentrification and economic renewal.
New Orleans is one of the "murder capitals" of the U.S.; statistics show murder rates are 4-6x higher than the national average. 80% of the victims are black males, mostly in their teenage years. Shell Shocked starts at the surface of the teen murder epidemic and delves into the hearts and minds of those whose lives are most deeply impacted.
A Will for the Woods
Musician & psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial while battling lymphoma, determined that his last act will be a gift to the planet. Boldly facing his mortality, Clark and partner Jane have inspired a local cemeterian, and together they aim to use green burial to save a North Carolina woods from being clear-cut.
Out in the Silence
When Joe Wilson announces he is to wed a man, a firestorm of controversy ignites in his hometown. Drawn by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being bullied at school, Wilson’s journey illustrates the possible transformation of those who have been constrained by a traditional code of silence to summon the courage to break it.
Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury
At 45, Laury, an actress and mother of two children, had a reputation as the quickest wit in the room. At 46, she began forgetting words and soon could barely speak. Follow Laury in her descent to fronto-temporal dementia in a personal portrait of a woman who is facing the unthinkable and the impact her progressive disease has on loved ones.
Dionicia and her son, José Luis, have gambled their futures on horse racing. Much like 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, she is trying to find a way out of poverty. In fact she lives and works in the stables at a racetrack. But with the racetrack closing, Dionicia must rethink her family's chances of finding a stable life.
Learning to Swallow
The portrait of Patsy Desmond, an "it girl” who seemingly had it all yet struggled with bipolar disorder; a failed suicide attempt leaves her unable to swallow. Learning to Swallow captures Patsy’s raw honesty and wit even as she becomes increasingly frail. However, hope and an undying spirit prevail, renewing Patsy's pact with art and life.
U.S. Army veteran Tina Garnanez realizes that her home on the Navajo Reservation has become a battleground in a protracted war over nuclear proliferation. In an effort to advocate against further contamination of Navajo land, Tina and a group of Navajo grandmothers lobby Congress and the nation for a just and equitable energy policy.
In the Colvard family, a sacred trust was violated; three sisters survived severe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of their father. Thirty years later, Chico Colvard, armed with his camera, seeks to understand how his father has manipulated and controlled a family for life, and the depth of his sisters’ capacity to forgiveness.
The Perfect Victim
Four incarcerated women were beaten, raped, sold, abused, and nearly killed by their husbands. Collectively, they spent over eighty-five years in prison, convicted for having killed their husbands to save their lives. Will the judicial system and a notoriously secretive Missouri parole board give them a chance to renew their lives?
A documentary about visionary cattleman, Kirk Hanna. Part eulogy, love letter and wake up call, learn about Hanna through the memories and anecdotes from family members, colleagues and friends. When Hanna's dream of harmony and sustainability ran up against the reality of family conflict and mounting threats to the land, he lost hope.
What lies beyond the art of giving and receiving? Ellie, a liberal Democrat and kind-hearted masseuse, decides she wants to share the gift of life with a stranger. Five hundred miles away, Kathy loses hope of receiving a transplant until she hears from Ellie. Over the course of four years, both women face unexpected challenges.
A competitive Chinese-American sport, 9-Man was a way for Chinese workers to escape the day-to-day but today, it provides a lasting connection to culture and community pride. Follow several teams over the course of one season as they prepare for battle and fight for the championship in Boston. What does the future hold for this street ball battle?
16-year-old judo and wrestling phenom Teshya Alo weighs 125 pounds and can throw women twice her age. Follow the journey of this part-Polynesian Hawai‘ian teenager, and her family in Winning Girl which tells the story of an elite athlete on her ascent, a girl facing the challenges of growing up and an entire family dedicated to a single dream.
“How do you survive when you belong nowhere?” Poet Kosal Khiev was lucky to escape war-torn Cambodia before he was two but deported to the country he’s never known after 14 years in jail. Follow a year in the life of the poet while he navigates his new fame as Phnom Penh’s premiere poet and receives the most important invitation of his career.
In search of inspiration, four best friends travel on a cross-country trip in the summer of 2012. They meet practitioners of the adaptive sports movement, where differently abled persons rock climb, swim competitively, play soccer and more, and capture the spirit of resilient people who defy being defined by their physical disability.
If You Build It
Follow designers-educators-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina. They work doggedly to persuade a school board to invest in their goal of offering a compelling and hopeful vision for a new kind of classroom in which students learn how to use the tools of design to build their own futures.
Where God Likes To Be
Focusing on three young protagonists full of hope and promise and following them over the course of a summer that marks a turning point in all of their lives. Each grapples with whether to leave and pursue opportunities far from home, or stay behind with friends and family potentially struggling with limited opportunity and marginalization.
By The River of Babylon
By the River of Babylon takes us into the unique culture and environment of South Louisiana: a habitat that gave rise to Cajun and Creole music, food, and culture, and one that is disappearing at an alarming rate. The film weaves this sad story into a fabric of famed but decaying dance halls and the musical habitat they represented.
A Self-Made Man
Gender identity issues often appear in early childhood. Some kids, feel they were born in the wrong body and this belief creates conflict in how they view and define themselves. Educator and activist Tony Ferraiolo knows this from experience. As an adult, he successfully transitioned from being female to male.
Before You Know It
Dennis, Ty and Robert are pioneers in an "out" generation. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million LGBT Americans over the age of 55. Before You Know It celebrates the lives of active gay senior citizens who have witnessed unbelievable change in their lifetimes: from the Stonewall Riots to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gay marriage rights.