Independent Lens Episodes

1999, TV Show

Independent Lens Season 11 episodes

Goodbye Solo Season 11, Episode 27

The drama "Goodbye Solo" finds a hard-working Senegalese cab driver (Souleymane Sy Savane) in North Carolina forming an unlikely friendship with a tough old Southerner (Red West). read more

A Village Called Versailles Season 11, Episode 26

"A Village Called Versailles" examines the Vietnamese community of eastern New Orleans, which rebuilt following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The residents faced another unexpected challenge in the form of a proposed toxic landfill to be built two miles away from their neighborhood. The documentary details the post-Katrina rebuilding and the landfill protests, which eventually succeeded. read more

Project Kashmir Season 11, Episode 25

The insightful "Project Kashmir" follows American friends Senain Kheshgi, a Pakistani Muslim, and Geeta Patel, an Indian Hindu, to Kashmir, India, where they probe problems plaguing the region. They spend time with human-rights activist Khurram Pervez, who lost a leg to a land mine while on a 2004 election-monitoring mission; Muzamil Jaleel, the Indian Express newspaper's Kashmir bureau chief; and Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh, whose family was forced to leave Kashmir by militants. read more

The Horse Boy Season 11, Episode 24

"The Horse Boy" relays the story of an autistic boy and his parents, who travel from their Texas home to Mongolia in hopes of finding a shaman who can help him overcome the disorder. read more

Sunshine Season 11, Episode 23

The emotive, visually poetic "Sunshine" explores society's shifting view of unwed mothers within the lifetime of filmmaker Karen Skloss, who was given up for adoption in 1975 by an unmarried woman and who became a single mom herself in the late 1990s. The film compares her story with that of her birth mother, who checked into a home for unwed pregnant women, and also examines the meaning of family. Her biological mom and grandfather, adoptive parents and her child's father participate. read more

Garbage Dreams Season 11, Episode 22

"Garbage Dreams" presents a fascinating slice of life from Cairo: the Zaballeen, a Coptic Christian community that collects trash and recycles 80 percent of it. The doc focuses on two young men, one who's in the trade and another who can't keep a job, and a social worker who's attempting to help her people modernize in the face of tough times. For the first time, the government has contracted for waste disposal---but with foreign companies that recycle far less than the Zaballeen. read more

DIRT! The Movie Season 11, Episode 21

Jamie Lee Curtis narrates "DIRT! The Movie," which details how four billion years of evolution led to dirt that can be used to recycle water, yield food and provide shelter. The doc also examines the dangers that the vital resource faces from destructive forms of agriculture, mining practices and urban development. Based on William Bryant Logan's "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth." read more

Blessed Is the Match Season 11, Episode 20

A profile of Hannah Senesh (1921-44), a heroic Jewish woman from Budapest who, although safe in British-controlled Palestine, joined a 1944 mission to rescue fellow Jews---including her mother---from the Nazis. She was captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo, a fate witnessed by her mother. The documentary features remarks from classmates, fellow kibbutz members, fellow prisoners and her nephews, and also includes photos and excerpts from her letters. read more

Unmistaken Child Season 11, Episode 19

"Unmistaken Child" follows Tenzin Zopa, the shy but devoted disciple of a deceased Tibetan spiritual leader, on a journey to find his reincarnated master. A sense of urgency drives the mission: Should Zopa fail to locate the "unmistaken child" within the span of four years, it will be too difficult to remove the boy from his parents' care. read more

Whatever It Takes Season 11, Episode 18

A compelling chronicle of a year at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, a small South Bronx public high school, through the eyes of first-year principal Edward Tom and ninth grader Sharifea, a promising student who stumbles academically, jeopardizing her acceptance into a Dartmouth College enrichment program. The doc travels beyond the school to offer snapshot summaries of Tom's and Sharifea's lives, including why Tom entered education and the sad realities Sharifea has faced in life. read more

Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas) Season 11, Episode 17

A personal, moving exploration of one immigrant family's experiences after two adult brothers---one of whose death spurred the doc---are deported to their native Mexico after spending the vast majority of their lives in the U.S. Filmmaker Monika Navarro, who narrates, focuses primarily on her Uncle Augie, a U.S. military veteran, admitted drug addict and absentee father who owns up to his mistakes even as he asks her for cash, and compares him to her own absentee dad, with whom she reconnects. read more

The Eyes of Me Season 11, Episode 16

"The Eyes of Me" profiles four teenagers at the Texas School for the Blind. Like high schoolers the world over, they struggle to fit in and prepare for college, but face challenges that their sighted counterparts can only imagine. read more

Behind the Rainbow Season 11, Episode 15

The transition of the African National Congress from a liberation group into South Africa's ruling political party is examined through the story of two of its leaders, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, who went from brothers in arms to bitter political rivals. read more

Mine; Home Season 11, Episode 14

The moving "Mine" relates the story of pets that were stranded in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the efforts of their guardians to reunite with them. Also: the short "Home" portrays a home before and after Katrina. read more

P-Star Rising Season 11, Episode 13

The story of Priscilla Star Diaz, aka P-Star, who entered the hip-hop game at age 9. The documentary chronicles the first four years of her career, from initial rehearsals to the first smatterings of success, as well as the difficulties she faces at home, where she deals with her single-dad Jesse, who sees in her a second chance to fulfill his own failed music dreams, and an older sister. read more

Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness Season 11, Episode 12

The story of anthropologist Melville Herskovits (1895-1963), whom Harvard professor Vincent Brown calls "the Elvis of African-American studies." The son of Jewish immigrants, Herskovits founded the nation's first major African studies program at Northwestern, wrote influential books, and broke new ground in his studies of cultural identity and black culture. The doc also explores who has the right to define another's identity, and makes use of archival footage, animation and expert interviews. read more

Copyright Criminals Season 11, Episode 11

A look at sampling, in which snippets of old songs are reused in new productions, featuring remarks from hip-hop and electronica artists as well as George Clinton and ex-James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield, whose beats have been heavily recycled. The doc explores the history of the technique, which dates to the dawn of hip-hop, along with the controversy it's engendered and the cash it's raised for copyright owners, licensing being something hip-hop pioneers learned about the hard way. read more

Young@Heart Season 11, Episode 10

A delightful look at the Young@Heart Chorus, New England senior citizens who sing such unconventional songs as James Brown's "I Feel Good," the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go," the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia," as they prepare for a concert in their hometown of Northampton, Mass., under the guidance of longtime musical director Bob Cilman. Other songs include Coldplay's "Fix You" and Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U." read more

Scenes From a Parish Season 11, Episode 9

The efforts of Father Paul O'Brien in Saint Patrick Parish, Lawrence, Mass., to balance the needs of longtime Irish-American parishioners with those of newcomers to the parish, immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Vietnam and Cambodia. That includes building a meal center for Lawrence's hungry, a cause for which he recruits his old Harvard classmate Conan O'Brien, and introducing services in Spanish. Longtime church members, however, aren't sure if the changes are for the good. read more

Between the Folds Season 11, Episode 8

"Between the Folds" explores origami (the art of folding paper) through the stories of artists, educators and physicists who were attracted to it and, in some cases, abandoned their careers to pursue it full-time. read more

Objectified Season 11, Episode 7

"Objectified," about the role that design plays in such manufactured objects as cell phones, sofas and toothbrushes. Included: interviews with design professionals. read more

No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos Season 11, Episode 6

The story of influential cinematographers and friends Laszlo Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond, who escaped from Hungary during the Soviet Union's 1956 invasion and went on to work on such classic films as "Easy Rider," "Five Easy Pieces," "Deliverance" "Paper Moon" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The profiles features interviews with both, plus comments from Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich, Sandra Bullock, Richard Donner, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bob Rafelson and Sharon Stone. read more

D Tour Season 11, Episode 5

"D Tour" follows Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon on the road with his indie-rock group as he balances the demands of being in a band with the challenges of having a failing kidney---dialysis, dietary restrictions and searching for a living-donor match. Featured are performances by Rogue Wave, Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Nada Surf, John Vanderslice and the Moore Brothers. read more

Power Paths Season 11, Episode 4

The efforts of Native Americans, whose land provides up to 10 percent of America's energy needs, to transition from such fossil fuels as coal to renewable energy while creating green jobs to balance the jobs lost from closed coal mines and plants. read more

Journals of a Wily School Season 11, Episode 3

"Journals of a Wily School," about a 22-year-old pickpocket in Kolkata, India, who's offered a deal by a police detective when he's caught: help nab other pickpockets or go to jail. read more

Butte, America Season 11, Episode 2

The rise and fall of Butte, Mont., the "Pittsburgh of the West," is chronicled. The onetime copper-mining capital was home to the behemoth Anaconda Copper Mining Company and the birthplace of the Western Federation of Miners. Included: how open-pit mining laid waste to neighborhoods and the environment. read more

Herb and Dorothy Season 11, Episode 1

The Season 11 opener tells the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a postal clerk and librarian who began collecting contemporary art in the early 1960s, guided by two rules: the pieces had to be affordable and had to fit into their one-bedroom apartment. By the early '90s, they had acquired a 4000-piece collection worth several million dollars. 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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