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Independent Lens

Season 18 2016 - 2017

  • 2016-10-04T02:00:00Z on PBS
  • 60 mins
  • 20 hours, 37 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.

20 episodes

18x01 Best of Enemies

  • Season Premiere

    2016-10-04T02:00:00Z — 85 mins

The debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during the 1968 political conventions.

18x02 Meet the Patels

  • 2016-12-27T03:00:00Z — 60 mins

Actor Ravi Patel, whose traditional Hindu parents are eager for him to find a mate, enters the semi-arranged marriage system in America.

18x03 Best and Most Beautiful Things

  • 2017-01-03T03:00:00Z — 55 mins

The story of a quirky young woman's pursuit of love and freedom. Michelle Smith is legally blind and on the autism spectrum; and, after graduating from Perkins School for the Blind near Boston, she finds herself walled off from the world until, during an alumni weekend, a school administrator offers her an animation internship in L.A. As she prepares for the challenge, she falls for a young man and, with him, becomes involved in fetish role-playing, through which she achieves empowerment.

Governments around the world struggle to protect future generations from nuclear waste; excerpt from "Uranium Drive-In."

18x05 What Was Ours

  • 2017-01-17T03:00:00Z — 55 mins

A Shoshone veteran, a teenage powwow princess, and an Arapaho journalist discover their purpose on the Wind River Indian Reservation as they seek lost artifacts.

18x06 The Witness

  • 2017-01-24T03:00:00Z — 86 mins

Bill Genovese investigates the 1964 murder of his sister Kitty, who was stabbed to death in Queens while 38 bystanders did nothing—at least, that's how the story was reported by the New York Times. Those "facts" led to the development of "the bystander effect" within psychology; influenced politicians to pass "Good Samaritan" laws; and spurred Bill to volunteer for Vietnam, where he lost his legs. But those "facts" weren't accurate, as Genovese discovers through the course of the documentary.

18x07 Birth of a Movement

  • 2017-02-07T03:00:00Z — 60 mins

In 1915, the film "The Birth of a Nation" by D.W. Griffith sparks outcry from African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter, leading to a still-ongoing race war.

18x08 Accidental Courtesy

  • 2017-02-14T03:00:00Z — 60 mins

Black musician Daryl Davis meets and befriends Ku Klux Klan members hoping to forge racial conciliation.

18x09 Tower

  • 2017-02-15T03:00:00Z — 60 mins

Survivors of the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas frame the events of the day and offer perspectives on its impact.

18x10 The Bad Kids

  • 2017-03-21T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

At Black Rock Continuation High School in the Mojave Desert of California, the principal and teachers make it their mission to educate students who have fallen so far behind that they will be unable to graduate from a traditional high school.

18x11 Ovarian Psycos

  • 2017-03-28T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

The story of the Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, a group of young Latinas from East Los Angeles who are confronting injustice, building community and redefining identity.

18x12 Newtown

  • 2017-04-04T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

An examination of the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed. Included: remarks from parents, siblings, teachers, doctors and first responders.

18x13 Seed: The Untold Story

  • 2017-04-18T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds -- worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. This documentary follows passionate seed keepers who are protecting a 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94 seed varieties have disappeared. A cadre of 10 agrichemical companies, including Syngenta, Bayer, and Monsanto, controls over two-thirds of the global seed market, reaping unprecedented profits. Farmers and others battle to defend the future of our food.

18x14 The Last Laugh

  • 2017-04-25T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

Whether the Holocaust should be off-limits to comedy. Included: a profile of Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone; remarks from comedians; footage of cabarets from the concentration camps; and clips from "The Day the Clown Cried," Jerry Lewis's never-released Holocaust comedy.

18x15 National Bird

  • 2017-05-02T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

National Bird is the first in-depth investigation of the U.S. drone war with unique access to two courageous women, a drone-target analyst and a retired intelligence officer, who connect with a former NSA analyst to become whistleblowers on the drone program, risking backlash.

18x16 The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

  • 2017-05-09T02:00:00Z — 56 mins

More people are imprisoned in the United States at this present moment than in any other time or place in history, yet prisons themselves have never felt further away or more out of sight. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is a film about the prison in which we never see an actual penitentiary. A meditation on the prison's disappearance in the era of mass incarceration, the film unfolds as a cinematic journey through a series of ordinary places across the USA where prisons affect lives.

18x17 Forever Pure

  • 2017-05-16T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

The story of famed Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem F.C. after it acquired two Muslim players, which led to a racist backlash and a lot of soul-searching from their new teammates.

18x18 They Call Us Monsters

  • 2017-05-23T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

They Call Us Monsters takes viewers behind the walls of the Compound, the 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.

18x19 Farmer/Veteran

  • 2017-05-30T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

A combat veteran starts a farm to help cultivate a healthier life outside the Army. While the sense of duty he once felt as a soldier returns, his crippling PTSD remains as he and his wife nervously anticipate the birth of their first child.

18x20 Real Boy

  • 2017-06-20T02:00:00Z — 60 mins

Real Boy is an intimate story of a family in transition. As 19-year-old Bennett Wallace navigates early sobriety, late adolescence, and the evolution of his gender identity, his mother makes her own transformation from resistance to acceptance of her trans son. Along the way, both mother and son find support in their communities, reminding us that families are not only given, but chosen.