Preserving Home, Community & Planet: Documentary Films to Watch on WORLD in April


Now that spring is upon us, revival and revitalization are on the horizon; with a fresh perspective, we begin to see the world anew. This April, while we re-enter spaces old and new and reflect on how to make purposeful contributions to our communities, WORLD’s featured films tell stories of fostering meaningful connection.

This month, AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange rings in a landmark 15th season with the premiere of five films celebrating the Black arts and its influential dancers, musicians and painters, beginning with legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones and his ballet, D-Man in the Waters, on April 3. A new season of Doc World starts days later on April 9 with films that provide an understanding of global democracy – Keep It a Secret chronicles the origin of surfing in Ireland amidst the peak of The Troubles conflict. And as Earth Day approaches, films like America ReFramed’s Kivalina provide an uncompromising reminder that our communities would not exist without a place to call home.

Watch new features and stream stories that capture the importance of protecting and invigorating the people and places around us.


NEW Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters | AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange
April 3 on TV, online & on YouTube

Filmmakers Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz trace the history and legacy of choreographer-dancer-director Bill T. Jones’ ballet, “D-Man in the Waters.” Emerging in the age of AIDS, the 1989 ballet gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that Jones and colleagues experienced as AIDS took the life of their beloved co-founder Arnie Zane and other troupe members.

NEW Siblings | Stories from the Stage
April 3 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Siblings share many things; from the obvious like family members and living spaces to the seldom said of histories and hopes. Rebecca Lampert and her sons experience the many trials of military deployment; Joseph Collymore Small’s siblings rally when one of them is diagnosed with cancer; and after their father abandons the family, Anna Conathan and her sibs navigate the fallout.

Listen & subscibe to Stories from the Stage: The Podcast!

NEW America and the Taliban: Parts 1 through 3 | FRONTLINE
April 5, 12 & 26 on TV, online & on the PBS app

How America’s 20-year investment in Afghanistan culminated in Taliban victory. Drawing on decades of on-the-ground reporting and interviews with Taliban and U.S. officials, this epic three-part investigation traces the missteps and consequences.

High Tide, Don't Hide | Pacific Heartbeat
April 6 on TV

In the race for existence, striking teenagers discover that activism, authority and awareness make for a steep learning curve. Determined to provoke real action, New Zealand teenagers join the global School Strike for Climate. But planning a movement and building momentum are the easy parts as they face political indifference, their own white privilege, and the ongoing struggle to be heard.

Kivalina | America ReFramed
April 6 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Today, the Inupiaq Eskimo must navigate an uncertain future 80 miles above the Arctic Circle on a fragile barrier island disappearing due to climate change. This quiet but stirring portrait immerses viewers into the rarely-seen lives of an Arctic tribe who try to continue to honor their way of life despite the government failing them.

NEW Keep It a Secret | Doc World
April 9 on TV, online, YouTube & on the PBS app

In 1972, every international sporting event in Ireland was cancelled...except for one. Surf pioneers transcended The Troubles' hostilities to host the '72 Eurosurf Championship. The film recounts the inspiring story of the dawn of Irish surfing, revealing how the sport gave young people hope while forever changing their lives, and how their community would leave a lasting impression upon Ireland.

Poetry in America
April 10 through 13 on TV | Available on the PBS app

Explore the diversity of American poetry as members of various American communities join host Elisa New to follow the likes of Gwendolyn Brooks to the South Side of Chicago, Alberto Ríos to the Sonoran Desert, Richard Blanco to Marco Island, and more. Joining along the way are singers and Supreme Court justices, playwrights and physicists, and teachers and their students.

NEW Queen Kidjo | AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange
April 10 on TV | Available on YouTube & on the PBS app

Experience a guided tour of the life and indomitable spirit of international music icon and activist Angélique Kidjo. This film features archival footage of the globally recognized artist appearing with superstars Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz, Youssou N’dour, Ziggy Marley, Philip Glass, and Peter Gabriel; as well as cameo appearances by contemporary music stars including Alicia Keys and Yemi Alade.

NEW Brothers and Sisters | Stories from the Stage
April 10 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Siblings may be the best of friends or rivals since the beginning, but no matter how much time has elapsed, their connection is like the pieces of a puzzle. Drew Prochaska’s brother, a scuba instructor, helps him overcome his fear of water; Mary Liz Nogueras and her family foster a young boy, only to realize his brother also needs them; and when Mary Ann Emerick develops an eating disorder, her sister steps in.

Listen & subscibe to Stories from the Stage: The Podcast!

Sapelo | America ReFramed
April 13 on TV | Available online & on the PBS app

On Sapelo island, two young brothers, JerMarkest and Jonathan, are coming of age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee. As Sapelo’s storyteller and elder matriarch, their adoptive mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, works to preserve what remains of her African-American community in the face of encroachment by property developers.

April 14 on TV

A diverse group of trauma survivors, ranging from 9/11, the Route 91 shooting and sexual abuse to service members and first responders, don “masks” that hide their spiritual and emotional pain. They share their extraordinary stories of healing that offer a unified message of hope. The powerful journeys of these brave individuals from seclusion to inclusion inspire us to unmask our own hope.

NEW Stay Prayed Up | Reel South
April 16 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Hear the gospel of 83-year-old Mother Perry and her legendary music group The Branchettes. The only thing mightier than Lena Mae Perry’s electrifying voice is her faith. She’s spent the last 50 years sharing and honing both as the steadfast frontwoman of The Branchettes, a legendary North Carolina gospel group that has packed churches and lifted weary hearts throughout the South.

NEW Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts | AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange
April 17 on TV | Available on YouTube & on the PBS app

Born into slavery in 1853, Bill Traylor spent most of his life working the land in rural Alabama. He began drawing and painting in his later years, often with found materials. This film, by Jeffrey Wolf and Daphne McWilliams, is a compelling narrative about a man who, despite the hardships of legalized racism, produced a body of work exhibited in today’s leading museums and collections worldwide.

The Last Season | America ReFramed
April 20 on TV, online & on the PBS app | Available on PBS Passport

Each September, the town of Chemult, Oregon is flooded with mushroom hunters. Many are immigrants from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand who entered the U.S. as refugees in the 1980s. Here, veterans Kouy Loch and Roger Higgins find more than just the rare matsutake in the woods; they create a familial bond and a means to slowly heal the wounds of war. A film by Oscar-nominated Sara Dosa (“Fire of Love”).

NEW Stay Here Awhile | Reel South
April 23 on TV, online & on the PBS app

An ode to the poetry and power of the American South’s diverse landscape and its stewards. A Tennessee folklorist, a fifth-generation Carolina farmer, a Mississippi river guide, and a former professional football player journey through loss and healing in this poetic ode to the power of landscape. Shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, the film invites us to linger in the space we find at the end of things.

NEW The Sound of Masks | AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange
April 24 on TV | Available on YouTube & on the PBS app

Mapiko is a traditional masked dance performed by the Makonde men of Northern Mozambique. Filmmaker Sara de Gouveia’s film follows Atanásio Nyusi, a compelling storyteller and legendary Mapiko dancer, taking us on a visually dramatic journey through Mozambique's past (including Mapiko’s role as a tool to challenge colonization during the Mozambican War of Independence) and its vibrant present.

NEW Never the Same | Stories from the Stage
April 24 on TV, online & on the PBS app

We are often defined by turning points. We hold our breath, check the rearview, and choose a path where nothing is ever the same again. Natasha Lance Rogoff and her team fight bureaucracy to bring Sesame Street to a newly democratic Russia; Johanne Pelletier reconnects with her late father’s friend and helps him navigate the end of his life; and Dave Fromm decides to become a pro basketball player in Europe, despite a distinct lack of talent.

NEW Free Chol Soo Lee | Independent Lens
April 26 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Sentenced to life for a 1973 San Francisco murder, Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee was set free after a pan-Asian solidarity movement, which included Korean, Japanese, and Chinese Americans, helped to overturn his conviction. After 10 years of fighting for his life inside California state prisons, Lee found himself in a new fight to rise to the expectations of the people who believed in him.

Brooklyn Inshallah | America ReFramed
April 27 on TV, online & on the PBS app | Available on PBS Passport

Father Khader El-Yateem is campaigning to be New York City's first Arab American councilman. As a Lutheran Pastor and Palestinian American, El-Yateem's bid to make history reveals the aspirations and divisions of his multicultural district. With the support of local organizers and activists, including Aber Kawas and Linda Sarsour, can he bring his community together to win the race?

NEW Justice Is a Beginning ft. 8 Days at Ware and Love Without Parole | Reel South
April 30 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Two stories from the South’s penitentiary systems: In Louisiana, a devastating investigation into youth suicide and systemic neglect, and in Alabama, an incarcerated man’s rehabilitation is holistic and starts with his marriage.


One Way or Another | Stories from the Stage
April 17 on TV | Available online, FacebookYouTube & on the PBS app

Tellers share how dealing with challenges showed them strengths they never knew they had. Brandon bridges the gap between their deaf grandma and a police officer using ASL; an allergic reaction turns Sara's vacation upside down; and Jeff takes on Mt. Kilimanjaro for cancer research. Hosted by Theresa Okokon.

Changing Planet
April 25 on TV | Available on PBS Passport

Join conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan for the beginning of an ambitious 7-year project, a global environmental health check of six of Earth’s bellwether biomes. From the Arctic to the Amazon, these vulnerable habitats are changing, revealing surprising animal behaviors as species adapt. On his journey he meets the inspiring scientists and communities working to bring about positive change.

Burning Questions: Covering Climate Now
Available on YouTube

Will we act in time? Extraordinary journalists report on climate change around the globe, as families lose everything while world leaders dawdle and corporate interests resist change. Co-hosted by NBC Today’s Al Roker and NBC News’ Savannah Sellers.

In Their Element | Local, USA
Available on PBS Passport

Indigenous leaders rise up to meet the challenge of the climate crisis. The film features four communities across the United States, each working to protect a different natural resource: earth, air, fire, and water. For people whose existence is inseparable from their native land, climate change is not a tale of the future – it is the present.

Entangled | Local, USA
Available on PBS Passport

There are fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales in the world, making them among the most endangered species. Threatening their survival are vessel strikes and millions of lobster lines. Watch as this film chronicles the efforts to protect the whales, the impacts of those efforts on the lobster industry, and how the National Marine Fisheries Service has struggled to balance the vying interests.

Discuss and engage with us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and TikTok by using the hashtag #WORLDChannel and tagging us @worldchannel. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube for more features including events and interviews.

Enjoy our content? Consider donating to keep important storytelling like this going, and find more on PBS Passport.

Related Content

Our World

WORLD Channel spotlights stories of climate change and environmental conservation from Southeast Louisiana to Aotearoa, New Zealand to the Arctic Circle. What action can you make today to create positive change for your community and the planet as a whole?