Season 14 (2015-2016)
About This Season
Launching with Debra Granik’s stereotype-shattering Stray Dog, Independent Lens returns with a new season of documentaries that tell unforgettable stories of courage and resilience, explore the most pressing issues of our time, and take viewers on journeys around the world. Additional films on the 2015-16 slate include Stanley Nelson’s Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party and its significance to the broader American culture; East of Salinas, the inspiring story of a bright young student and his teacher, both sons of migrant farm workers; and Autism in Love, which explores the lives of four adults with autism as they pursue and manage romantic relationships.
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series featuring documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service.
Independent Lens: Stray Dog
Behind the leather and chrome lives a man haunted by the brutality of war. A portrait of a Vietnam veteran cast in the mold of an outlaw biker. But there’s more to Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall than meets the eye. Below the surface, Stray Dog is forever wrestling with the legacy of the Vietnam War — a constant struggle of conscience, remorse, and forgiveness.
Independent Lens: India's Daughter
The story of the brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, which sparked protests and serious debate about gender inequality across India. India’s Daughter paints a complicated picture of a country struggling to embrace modernity while wrestling with the effects of poverty and patriarchal attitudes towards women.
Independent Lens: Mimi and Dona
What happens when love runs out of time? For Mimi, who has spent much of her life caring for Dona, her daughter with an intellectual disability, it means facing the inevitable — the likelihood that she will not outlive her and the need to find her a home. The film captures the deeply connected mother-daughter duo at their most poignant crossroads.
Independent Lens: East of Salinas
The story of a bright boy and his dedicated teacher — sons of migrant farm workers. With parents busy working long hours in the fields, Mexican-born third grader José Ansaldo often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, for guidance. For the many migrant children: What is lost when promising kids are denied opportunities through no fault of their own?
Independent Lens: Chuck Norris vs Communism
In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films smashed through the Iron Curtain opening a window into the free world for those who dared to look. A black-market VHS racketeer and a courageous female translator brought the magic of film to the people and sparked a revolution.
Independent Lens: Autism in Love
Finding love can be hard enough for anyone, but for those with an autism spectrum disorder, the challenges may seem overwhelming as it can jeopardize the core characteristics of a successful relationship. The film asks the question, “What happens when children with autism become adults and want to have lives of their own?”
Independent Lens: In Football We Trust
Transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, one of the chief sources of the modern influx of Pacific Islander football players to the NFL. Shot over four years, the film follows four young men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through the promise of American football.
Independent Lens: No Mas Bebés
Tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive rights, when a group of Mexican immigrant women sued after they were sterilized while giving birth. Set against a debate over the impact of Latino immigration and overpopulation, and the birth of a movement for Chicana rights, this film revisits a story that still resonates today.
Independent Lens: A Ballerina's Tale
Few dancers reach the elite level of ballet; of that number only a fraction are black women. Misty Copeland shattered those barriers in 2015, making history as the first African American principal with the American Ballet Theatre. The film documents her rise while shining a light on the absence of women of color at major ballet companies.
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
In the turbulent '60s, change was coming to America, and the Black Panther Party would put itself at the vanguard of that change. Vanguard of the Revolution explores the party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails.
Independent Lens: (T)error
The story of a 62-year-old Black Panther-turned-counterterrorism informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. With unprecedented access to both the informant and the target, the film captures the drama and intrigue of a spy novel, but with very real consequences. Who is watching the watchers?
Independent Lens: Wilhemina's War
Grandmother Wilhemina Dixon is the caregiver to her granddaughter, who was born with HIV and now the victim of online bullying, in the rural South, where AIDS is one of the leading causes of death among black women. Wilhemena's War bears witness to the resilience and determination of the human spirit in the face of tremendous adversity.
Independent Lens: Welcome to Leith
Chronicling the attempted takeover of a small North Dakota town by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. Welcome to Leith is an unsettling exploration of what happens to democratic principles when they’re pushed to the limit.
Independent Lens: Democrats
In the wake of Robert Mugabe’s 2008 presidential win, Zimbabwe convened a bipartisan constitutional committee. Two men, opposites in politics but united in ambition, hope to deliver a new foundation for a reformed nation. Democrats offers a glimpse at the political mechanics of a modern African country struggling toward democratic change.
Independent Lens: My Nazi Legacy
Explore the relationship between two men, each the sons of high-ranking Nazi officials, and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, whose family perished in the Holocaust. As the three travel together on an emotional journey through Europe and the past, My Nazi Legacy explores how each of them cope with their own devastating family history.
Independent Lens: Peace Officer
Former sheriff “Dub” Lawrence, who established and trained Utah’s first SWAT team, watched as the same unit killed his son-in-law. Peace Officer follows as Dub uncovers the truth about that controversial standoff and other officer-involved shootings, while tackling larger questions about the changing face of police investigations nationwide.
Independent Lens: The Armor of Light
The Armor of Light follows the journey of Evangelical minister Rob Schenck, who is trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America, and Lucy McBath, the mother of an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story cast a spotlight on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Independent Lens: Dogtown Redemption
A surprising number of people make their living off our nation’s vast rivers of trash. Dogtown Redemption follows the lives of three people over the course of seven years: a recycling hustler, a former minister and the daughter of a prominent family. Each survives by redeeming recyclables in "Dogtown," an area of West Oakland, California.
Independent Lens: Trapped
Go to the front lines of the controversial war being waged over so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws. Told through the eyes of doctors, clinic owners, and staff in Alabama and Texas, Trapped provides an on-the-ground, up-to-the minute look at the latest battle in America’s ongoing struggle over abortion rights.
Independent Lens: T. Rex - Her Fight for Gold
Meet Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, who rose from the streets of Flint, Michigan, and at 17 won the first Olympic gold medal for women’s boxing in 2012. In this coming-of-age story, life outside the ring may be an even tougher fight as the number one ranked boxer deals with subsequent challenges and disappointments over race, class and gender bias.
Independent Lens: The Best of Enemies
Capturing the legendary 1968 debates between two famed intellectuals and ideological opposites: leftist Gore Vidal and neoconservative William F. Buckley. Their televised sparring shaped a new era of public discourse in the media, marking the moment TV’s political ambition shifted from narrative to spectacle.