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Independent Lens

Season 10 2008 - 2009

  • 2008-10-23T03:00:00+01:00 on PBS
  • 60 mins
  • 1 day, 2 hours, 26 mins
  • United States
  • English
  • Documentary, Drama

This acclaimed Emmy Award-winning anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. INDEPENDENT LENS features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. The series is supported by interactive companion Web sites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Acclaimed actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci hosts the series.

26 episodes

10x01 Chicago 10

  • Season Premiere

    2008-10-23T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

This program combines bold and original animation with extraordinary archival footage to explore the build-up to and unraveling of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Set to the music of revolution, then and now, the film features the vocal talents of Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, Dylan Baker, Liev Schreiber, Nick Nolte, Jeffrey Wright and Roy Scheider. A parable of hope, courage and victory, this program is the story of young Americans speaking out.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf addresses his ideas for a democratized society.

10x03 Knee Deep

  • 2008-11-07T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Josh Osborne hatched a plan with his friends and relatives to kill his mother after she reneged on a deal which would have left the family farm to him.

10x04 Lioness

  • 2008-11-14T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

The story of a group of female Army support soldiers who became the first women in American history to be sent into direct ground combat in violation of official policy. Without sufficient training but with a commitment to serve as needed, these young women ended up fighting in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq war. This film makes public, for the first time, this hidden history. / The experiences of "Team Lioness," female soldiers in Iraq who took part in house raids and patrols in order to interact with Iraqi women. In the process, they became involved in direct combat with the enemy, including in 2004 in Ramadi.

10x05 March Point

  • 2008-11-19T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Meet Cody, Nick and Travis—three teenagers from the Swinomish Tribe. After hard times on the rez lead to rehab and drug court, they are offered an alternative: to make a documentary about the impact of two oil refineries on their community. A collaborative coming of age story, MARCH POINT follows the ambivalent and once-troubled teens as they come to understand themselves and the threat their people face.

10x06 The Atom Smashers

  • 2008-11-26T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

THE ATOM SMASHERS explores what happens when politicians, not scientists, decide which scientific projects will be funded and which will be cut, and depicts the contradictions that arise when the most educated population in the world begins to doubt the place and value of science. Archival film and vintage footage illustrate the history of Fermilab and cultural attitudes towards science in America, with key scientific ideas brought to life through animation. Despite the setbacks, the physicists at Fermilab continue the search. Until Europe’s atom smasher goes online and starts generating the massive amounts of collisions it takes to find such a minute particle, there’s still a chance that they can win the race. As physicist John Conway says, “This work is too important not to be done somewhere.” But will it be done here in the U.S.? Or will he and the rest of the physicists at Fermilab soon be packing their bags for Europe?

10x07 Doc

  • 2008-12-10T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Filmmaker Immy Humes presents a portrait of her father, the legendary forgotten novelist and counterculture icon Harold Louis "Doc" Humes. Doc’s friends and family—including Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Timothy Leary, William Stryon, Peter Matthiessen, Paul Auster, and Jonas Mekas—weaving together a story of politics, literature, protest and mental illness, shedding light on an original mind as well as the cultural history of postwar America.

This program tells the story of making a grand opera about the birth of the atomic bomb. This behind-the-scenes documentary follows composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars over the course of a year as they work to forge the tale of J. Robert Oppenheimer into a music drama like no other: the strange and beautiful "Doctor Atomic."

This 50-minute documentary unfolds the creative journey of Albert Maysles' cult classic, GREY GARDENS - from non-fiction film to spectacularly mounted Broadway musical. Captured in the 1975 Maysles film, GREY GARDENS, the indomitable Edith Beale and her daughter Edie, aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, were revealed to be a most unique and engaging mother daughter act - inhabiting a folie à deux built upon powerful interdependence, quirky eccentricity, courage, devotion and love. Their essence and their story soon catapulted them to cult icon status, an ironic counterpoint to Mrs. Onassis' own such status, and culminating in the ultimate homage: being portrayed on the Broadway stage. The documentary will feature behind-the-scenes footage of the show's rehearsals, performance and insightful interviews with the creators and cast, as well as a revealing interview with Albert Maysles and relevant insights from Beale authorities, devotees, cultural commentators, audience and fans.

10x10 Operation Filmmaker

  • 2008-12-31T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Iraqi film student Muthana Mohmed gets his dream job working on a Hollywood movie, where expectations and misunderstandings collide. / Iraqi film student Muthana Mohmed, whose school was destroyed by American bombs, lands a dream job working on a Hollywood movie in the West. On set, idealistic expectations and cultural misunderstandings collide, launching Muthana on a journey more complicated than either he or his American benefactors ever anticipated. By Nina Davenport.

10x11 Helvetica

  • 2009-01-07T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Helvetica is about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

America's original shock-jock, Petey Greene overcame poverty, drug addiction and prison time to "tell it like it is," shocking and entertaining everyone from the ghetto to the White House. Narrated by Don Cheadle, "Adjust Your Color" looks at how Greene's explosive language and brash style unsettled the establishment as he battled both the system and his own demons on a journey to becoming a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history.

10x13 Tulia, Texas

  • 2009-02-11T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

A lone undercover cop moves into a small farming town. By the end of the blazing summer of 1999, 46 people are arrested for selling cocaine—nearly all of them African American. It was heralded as one of the biggest drug busts in Texas history, until a team of lawyers set out to uncover the truth.

10x14 The Order of Myths

  • 2009-02-25T03:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

The doctrine, “separate but equal” ended in the 1950s, right? Think again. At America’s oldest Mardi Gras—celebrated each year in Mobile, Alabama—events remain segregated between white and black residents. Beneath the surface of pageantry, lies a complex story about race relations and the ever-present racial divide that persists in America today.

10x15 Arusi Persian Wedding

  • 2009-03-18T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Iranian American filmmaker Marjan Tehrani chronicles her brother's return to Iran during the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as he travels with his American wife to have a traditional Persian wedding and explore his lost heritage. In weaving the couple's personal story with historical footage, "Arusi" considers the history, impact and troubled relationship between Iran and America. By Marjan Tehrani.

10x16 Lakshmi and Me

  • 2009-03-25T02:00:00+00:00 — 60 mins

Have you ever dreamed of being waited on hand and foot? For the past six years, Lakshmi has been doing just that for her employers—virtually unnoticed. That is, until one of Lakshmi’s employers begins to film her daily life on the job in Mumbai, India. In a deeply personal portrait, the film takes a hard look at the Indian caste system, gender and class relations.

10x17 Recycle

  • 2009-04-01T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

Abu Amar, an ex-Mujahideen soldier, is trying to build a peaceful life after years of fighting in the Soviet-Afghan war. "Recycle" follows Amar's daily life as he scours the streets to earn a meager living collecting cardboard to recycle while struggling with his faith and the social realities of life in the Middle East.

10x18 Milking the Rhino

  • 2009-04-08T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

Everyone has seen a nature documentary with a ferocious kill on the Serengeti Plain. Well, here’s a different story about villagers navigating the dangers and costs of living with wildlife. After a century of “white man’s conservation,” the Maasai of Kenya and Namibia’s Himba people are vying to share a piece of the eco-tourism pie. But can they fulfill the expectations of Westerners without abandoning their native culture?

10x19 Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

  • 2009-04-15T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

How does the simple act of planting trees lead to winning the Nobel Peace Prize? Ask Wangari Maathai of Kenya. In 1977, she suggested rural women plant trees to address problems stemming from a degraded environment. Under her leadership, their tree-planting grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, defend human rights and promote democracy, earning Maathai the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

10x20 At Home in Utopia

  • 2009-04-29T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

A home of your own: that’s the American dream. But what happens when the dreamers are immigrants, factory workers and Communists? Director Michal Goldman traces the history of "The Coops," a cooperative apartment complex built in the Bronx by Jewish garment workers. The film tracks the rise and fall of the community from the 1920s into the 1950s, bearing witness to lives lived across barriers of race, convention and sometimes even common sense.

10x21 Wings of Defeat

  • 2009-05-06T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

What were the Japanese Kamikazes thinking just before crashing into their targets? When Risa Morimoto discovered that her beloved uncle trained as a Kamikaze pilot in his youth, she wondered the same thing. Through rare interviews with surviving Kamikaze pilots, Morimoto retraces their journeys from teenagers to doomed pilots and reveals a complex history of brutal training and ambivalent sacrifice.

10x22 Crips and Bloods: Made in America

  • 2009-05-13T03:00:00+01:00 — 86 mins

It’s a civil war that’s lasted 40 years. Passed down from son to son. Fought eye for an eye. Over 15,000 dead and counting, while the world stands by. Welcome to South Central Los Angeles. But what’s at the root of this long-standing battle? Filmmaker Stacy Peralta hits the streets of LA to find out, and speaks with former and current members of the Bloods and the Crips, two of the most notorious and violent street gangs in America.

10x23 Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors

  • 2009-05-20T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

This is the story of a group of young men who survived for 72 days after their plane crashed in the Andean Cordillera in October 1972. / The 16 young men (of 45 passengers and crew) of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes recall their ordeal, which found them stranded for 72 days on a snowy peak after the search for the plane's wreckage was called off.

10x24 Steal a Pencil for Me

  • 2009-05-27T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

In June 1943, Ina Soep, the rich and beautiful daughter of an Amsterdam diamond cutter, met a married couple—a poor accountant named Jack Polak and his vivacious wife, Manja—at a birthday party for a friend. Six months later, the three of them were sharing a barrack at Kamp Westerbork, a Nazi holding camp in the north of Holland. So begins one of the most complex stories of love, hope and transcendent luck to emerge from the Holocaust.

10x25 Ask Not

  • 2009-06-07T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

As wars rage in the Middle East, the U.S. military is eager for more recruits—unless you happen to be openly gay. ASK NOT explores the tangled political battles that led to the infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and reveals the personal stories of gay Americans who serve in combat under a veil of secrecy.

10x26 Our Disappeared; Nuestros Desaparecidos

  • 2009-09-22T03:00:00+01:00 — 60 mins

During the 1976-1983 military dictatorships in Argentina, thousands of citizens were kidnapped and never heard from again. Director Juan Mandelbaum returns to his native Argentina to discover what happened to friends and loved ones who were among the "desaparecidos." His journey reveals the depths of terror that they experienced and the continued fight for justice. Terrence Howard hosts the series.