Independent Lens Episodes

1999, TV Show

Independent Lens Season 10 episodes

Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos Season 10, Episode 26

In "Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos," filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum explores the fates of former girlfriend Patricia Dixon and other friends who were kidnapped and killed by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. read more

Ask Not Season 10, Episode 25

"Ask Not" explores the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that was implemented in 1993, which has resulted in some 12,500 gays and lesbians being discharged in the years since. The documentary recalls the cultural and political milieu that led to the policy and details the societal shifts about gays in the military that have occurred in the intervening years. read more

Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors Season 10, Episode 24

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. To prevent starvation, the survivors did the unthinkable: They cannibalized the bodies of passengers who had perished. Included: interviews with the men, who return to the site of the crash; archival footage. read more

Crips and Bloods: Made in America Season 10, Episode 23

Interviews with active and former gang members are featured in this look at the Crips and the Bloods, the infamous South Central L.A. gangs. The documentary explores the history of the two gangs, the social context for their formation and continued existence and their long feud, which dates back decades. read more

Wings of Defeat Season 10, Episode 22

Japan's WWII-era kamikaze pilots are recalled in "Wings of Defeat." Included: interviews with kamikaze pilots who survived their missions and the U.S. sailors whose ships were targeted by them. read more

At Home in Utopia Season 10, Episode 21

Linda Lavin narrates a history of the United Workers Cooperative Colony, a tenant-run apartment complex built by Jewish garment workers in the Bronx during the 1920s. The "Coops" residents, many of whom were political activists (sometimes Communists) railed against mortgage foreclosures during the Great Depression, and integrated their complex during the 1930s. Included: interviews with former residents. read more

Steal a Pencil for Me Season 10, Episode 20

"Steal a Pencil for Me" relates the true story of a Jewish Dutch accountant, his wife and his lover, all of whom were all imprisoned in the same concentration-camp barracks during World War II. read more

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai Season 10, Episode 19

A profile of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient from Kenya who founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization devoted to planting trees. It grew into a political force, and promotes the environment, human rights and democracy. read more

Milking the Rhino Season 10, Episode 18

"Milking the Rhino" examines community-based conservation efforts in Africa devised to balance the needs of wildlife with those of the people who live with and around them. read more

Recycle Season 10, Episode 17

"Recycle" explores the Jordanian city of Zarqa, considered a hotbed of Islamic extremism, through the eyes of fortysomething Abu Ammar, a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet War who struggles to support his two wives and eight children by selling discarded cardboard to a recycling plant. Shot over 2 1/2 years, the documentary tracks his falling fortunes; and also sheds light on Zarqa's most infamous son, the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (who was killed by U.S. forces in 2005). read more

Lakshmi and Me Season 10, Episode 16

In "Lakshmi and Me," Mumbai filmmaker Nishtha Jain explores the role that caste and class play in India via her relationship with her maid, an uneducated 21-year-old woman who works seven days a week cleaning Jain's and other people's luxurious homes. The documentary details the difficulties Lakshmi endures, including sharing an overcrowded shanty with her family and developing tuberculosis, before deciding to join with fellow maids to demand better working conditions, benefits and pensions. read more

Arusi Persian Wedding Season 10, Episode 15

The history of U.S.-Iran relations is explored through the prism of Iranian-American Alex Tehrani and his bride Heather, who travel to Iran for a traditional Persian wedding. Accompanying them are his sister Marjan, the documentary's director, and father Reza. read more

The Order of Myths; Bi-Racial Hair Season 10, Episode 14

"The Order of Myths" explores race relations in Mobile, Ala., where the city's annual Mardi Gras celebration features parallel black and white festival kings and queens and separate masquerade balls, parades and parties. Then, "Bi-Racial Hair" features a teen poet's satirical take on being from a mixed-race background. read more

Tulia, Texas Season 10, Episode 13

A 1999 drug sting in the Texas farming community of Tulia that netted 46 arrests is examined. The case drew controversy for the disproportionate number (39) of blacks targeted and its reliance on uncorroborated testimony from undercover officer Thomas Coleman. Texas governor Rick Perry eventually pardoned all of the convicted. The documentary features remarks from Coleman, several of the accused, attorney Jeff Blackburn, Texas Observer reporter Nate Blakeslee and former Texas judge Ron Chapman. read more

Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene Season 10, Episode 12

Don Cheadle narrates a profile of influential radio-and-TV personality Petey Greene (1931-84), whom he played in the 2007 film "Talk to Me." Greene's rise to the top was not without difficulties, thanks to his brash style and personal demons, which included drug addiction, a stint in prison and alcoholism. read more

Helvetica Season 10, Episode 11

"Helvetica" explores the history of the popular Helvetica font, which was created in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger, as well as the world of graphic design, detailing how different fonts affect the way people process words and the information imparted by them. read more

Operation Filmmaker Season 10, Episode 10

Nothing goes according to plan when Liev Schreiber, after seeing Iraqi film student Muthana Mohmed on a 2003 MTV special, recruits the young man to work on the film "Everything Is Illuminated," starring Elijah Wood. read more

Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway Season 10, Episode 9

How the Maysles Brothers' cult classic 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens," about mother and daughter "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" Beale (the aunt and cousin of Jackie Onassis) living in a dilapidated Hamptons mansion, was turned into a Broadway musical. Included: interviews with Albert Maysles, composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, dramatist Doug Wright and the play's cast, plus Beale devotees. read more

Wonders Are Many: The Making of "Doctor Atomic" Season 10, Episode 8

The creation of "Doctor Atomic," an opera about physicist and so-called "father of the atomic bomb" J. Robert Oppenheimer in the run-up to the first atomic bomb test in 1945, is interwoven with a history of nuclear weaponry. read more

Doc Season 10, Episode 7

"Doc" features filmmaker Immy Humes' profile of her father, Harold L. Humes (1926-92), who cofounded the Paris Review and wrote two acclaimed novels during the 1950s, managed Norman Mailer's 1961 NYC mayoral bid and drifted into mental illness following a 1965 LSD experience. Included: interviews with many of his friends, including Review founders Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton; filmmaker Jonas Mekas; counterculture icon Timothy Leary; and authors Paul Auster, William Styron and Mailer. read more

Atom Smashers Season 10, Episode 6

The work at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to uncover the Higgs boson, a theoretical particle believed to be responsible for mass, through the use of the Tevatron, a 4-mile long underground particle accelerator in Illinois, is examined. read more

March Point Season 10, Episode 5

The experiences of three teens from the Swinomish Reservation in Northwest Washington who, as part of the "Native Lens" filmmaking program, document how two nearby oil refineries are impacting their tribal community. read more

Lioness Season 10, Episode 4

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. The documentary also details their adjustment to civilian life. read more

Knee Deep Season 10, Episode 3

The story of a sixth-grade dropout in rural Maine who attempts to kill his mother after she decides to sell the family dairy farm, which had been promised to him. read more

Dinner With the President: A Nation's Journey Season 10, Episode 2

An interview with former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf highlights this look at challenges facing the country, where clashes between religious fundamentalism and secularism threaten the nation's future. The documentary also travels the country to gauge sentiments of Pakistanis of all stripes, including North-West Frontier Province tribal chiefs and resort beachgoers. read more

Chicago 10 Season 10, Episode 1

The Season 10 opener features "Chicago 10," which blends archival footage with animation to recall the troubled events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the subsequent trial of the Chicago 7, who were charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot. Written and directed by Brett Morgen, the film features the voice talent of Hank Azaria, Roy Scheider, Jeffrey Wright, Mark Ruffalo, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte and Liev Schreiber. read more

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Premiered: August 09, 1999, on PBS
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: Independent filmmakers are spotlighted in this anthology, which concentrates on documentaries, but occasionally features artist profiles and offbeat fictional films.

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