Independent Lens Episodes

1999, TV Show

Independent Lens Season 13 episodes

Strong! Season 13, Episode 27

"Strong!" profiles weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, who made history at the 2000 Olympics when, at age 17, she became the youngest athlete to win a weightlifting medal. She set a Pan American and U.S. record in 2005 by lifting 354 lbs., a feat she accomplished after returning from a ligament injury to her left arm. read more

We Were Here Season 13, Episode 26

"We Were Here" recalls the AIDS crisis in San Francisco during the early 1980s, when what was then known as the "gay plague" first swept through the city's thriving gay community. The documentary focuses on the experiences of five individuals who witnessed the devastation firsthand, and whose stories are representative of many of the issues and themes of that era, from the political and sexual dimensions of the crisis to how women, primarily lesbians, cared and fought for gay men. read more

Hell and Back Again Season 13, Episode 25

In the acclaimed "Hell and Back Again," photojournalist Danfung Dennis chronicles the experiences of a Marine platoon battling the Taliban in 2009 Afghanistan; and details the physical and emotional challenges a wounded soldier faces upon returning home. read more

Left by the Ship Season 13, Episode 24

"Left by the Ship" tells the story of Amerasian children in the Philippines, where a U.S. naval base existed until 1992, through the eyes of three young adults, including a journalist; a former gang member; and a medical transcriptionist. read more

Precious Knowledge Season 13, Episode 23

"Precious Knowledge" examines a Mexican-American studies program at Tucson High School through the eyes of its students and teachers. They find themselves on the defensive when the state legislature passes a bill that would allow the state superintendent of public instruction to abolish all ethnic-studies programs. read more

Summer Pasture Season 13, Episode 22

"Summer Pasture," about nomadic husband-and-wife yak herders in eastern Tibet whose traditional way of life is changing due to the rapid modernization taking place around them. They deal with illness, infidelity and a shrinking community, as many fellow nomads decide to leave for the city. They also contemplate whether to eventually send their infant daughter to school in a nearby town, as it would afford her an opportunity for a better life, and, if so, whether they should move with her. read more

Circo Season 13, Episode 21

In "Circo," filmmaker Aaron Schock follows the proprietors of a struggling, family-run Mexican circus as they travel the back roads of the countryside in hopes of recapturing the success of the show's earlier years. read more

Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison Season 13, Episode 20

"Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison" examines the effort to revive the American bison population in the Great Plains, where their 19th-century slaughter and near eradication permanently changed the culture of the Plains Indians. read more

Revenge of the Electric Car Season 13, Episode 19

In "Revenge of the Electric Car," filmmaker Chris Paine visits Nissan, GM and Tesla Motors to examine the resurgence of the electric car and the race to build the next generation of automobiles. read more

When the Drum Is Beating Season 13, Episode 18

"When the Drum Is Beating" intertwines the story of Orchestre Septentrional, a 20-piece Haitian group founded in 1948 that fuses the Cuban big-band sound with vodou beats, with the history of Haiti itself. The documentary recalls the revolution that led to Haiti being the first free black republic, as well as the foreign occupation, dictators, coups d'état and natural disasters that followed. read more

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey Season 13, Episode 17

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" chronicles the life story of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the popular "Sesame Street" character Elmo. Growing up in 1970s Baltimore, Clash dreamed of one day working with Jim Henson on "Sesame Street" and, with the support of his family, went about making it happen. The documentary features rare archival footage; a behind-the-scenes look at the Jim Henson Workshop; and remarks by Frank Oz and Cheryl Henson. read more

You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't Season 13, Episode 16

An up-close look at Alzheimer's disease via the day-to-day life of a nursing-home resident. She is unable to identify herself in the family photos in her room and mistakes an ordinary outfit for her wedding dress while ruffling through her closet. read more

More Than a Month Season 13, Episode 15

In "More Than a Month," black filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman campaigns to end Black History Month. The effort takes him to Harvard, where he helps with a study on the psychological impact of Black History Month on blacks and whites; introduces him to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who want to establish a Confederate History month; and leads him to Philadelphia, where black history is a high-school graduation requirement. Also: the commercial aspects of Black History Month are examined. read more

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 Season 13, Episode 14

"The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" unreels long-unseen footage of America's black power movement, featuring scenes of Harlem, Brooklyn and Oakland; and interviews with such notables as Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver. The documentary is accented with contemporary audio remarks from black artists, activists and scholars, including singer Eyrkah Badu, Roots drummer ?uestlove, filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, hip-hop performer Talib Kweli and poet Sonia Sanchez. read more

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock Season 13, Episode 13

The story of civil-rights activist Daisy Bates (1914-99), who led the Arkansas NAACP during the 1957 Little Rock school-integration crisis. Included: remarks from one of the Little Rock Nine, Ernest Green; author Elizabeth Jacoway ("Turn Away Thy Son"), who interviewed Bates for an oral-history project; former Arkansas State Press managing editor Janis Kearney; historian John Kirk; former Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation president Sybil Jordan-Hampton; and Bates' cousin David Neely. read more

Have You Heard From Johannesburg? Free at Last Season 13, Episode 12

The conclusion of "Have You Heard From Johannesburg?, Free at Last," recalls the end stage of South Africa's apartheid system, when internal and external pressures forced the government to the negotiating table and consent to elections in 1994 that resulted in the once-banned ANC winning a majority in parliament and the once-imprisoned Nelson Mandela becoming president. read more

Have You Heard From Johannesburg? The Bottom Line Season 13, Episode 11

Part 4 of 5 of "Have You Heard From Johannesburg?, The Bottom Line," details how international grassroots campaigns to boycott and divest from companies that did business in South Africa pressured those companies to exit the apartheid state. read more

Have You Heard From Johannesburg? From Selma to Soweto Season 13, Episode 10

Part 3 of 5 of "Have You Heard From Johannesburg?," "From Selma to Soweto," details the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S., where in 1986 legislation was passed that imposed sanctions on South Africa over the objections of President Reagan. read more

Have You Heard From Johannesburg? The New Generation Season 13, Episode 9

Part 2 of 5 of "Have You Heard From Johannesburg?" examines "The New Generation," and its effort to overturn South Africa's apartheid system. Included: the refusal of western nations to boycott South Africa; a youth uprising in the township of Soweto; the 1977 murder of activist Steve Biko. read more

Have You Heard From Johannesburg? Road to Resistance Season 13, Episode 8

The five-part "Have You Heard From Johannesburg?," a history of the global anti-apartheid movement, opens with "Road to Resistance," which recalls the 1948 implementation of government-sanctioned discrimination in South Africa. The African National Congress launches a nonviolent campaign against apartheid, but its leaders are forced underground or, like Nelson Mandela, imprisoned. ANC deputy president Oliver Tambo, meanwhile, travels the world in search of support for the anti-apartheid cause. read more

These Amazing Shadows Season 13, Episode 7

"These Amazing Shadows" focuses on the National Film Registry, an eclectic collection of movies considered to be "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the National Film Preservation Board. Included: clips from many of the films; remarks from Librarian of Congress James Billington; such directors as Barbara Kopple, Christopher Nolan, Rob Reiner, John Singleton and John Waters; such actors as Tim Roth, Debbie Reynolds and Zooey Deschanel; and film critics and historians. read more

The Woodmans Season 13, Episode 6

"The Woodmans" charts the short life of influential photographer Francesca Woodman, who took her own life in 1981 at the age of 22. The profile includes comments from her parents, artists George and Betty Woodman; and brother Charles Woodman. read more

We Still Live Here - As Nutayunean Season 13, Episode 5

Anne Makepeace's "We Still Live Here—As Nutayunean" tells the story of linguist Jessie Little Doe Baird's work to resurrect the long-forgotten language of the Wampanoag (the Native Americans who saved the Pilgrims from starvation). The documentary details what led Baird, in 1994, to begin the effort to return the dormant language to the living; and also explains the factors that led to the language's extinction a century ago. read more

Deaf Jam Season 13, Episode 4

"Deaf Jam" chronicles the experiences of Aneta Brodski, a deaf Israeli teen living in New York, as she moves from American Sign Language poetry, where body movements convey meaning, into the spoken-word slam scene and collaborates with Palestinian slam poet Tahani Salah on a politics-transcending performance. read more

Lives Worth Living Season 13, Episode 3

"Lives Worth Living" tells the story of the disability rights movement in America, which began after WWII when disabled veterans returned home; and culminated in 1990 with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The documentary includes remarks from the movement's pioneers, including Fred Fay (1940-2011) and Judi Chamberlin (1944-2010); former congressman Tony Coelho; and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). read more

Donor Unknown Season 13, Episode 2

"Donor Unknown" charts the story of 20-year-old JoEllen Marsh, who was raised by two mothers in Pennsylvania, as she searches for her sperm-donor father, known only as "Donor 150." Thanks to an online registry for the children of sperm donors, she meets half-siblings that she never knew existed; and, thanks to a New York Times article about her quest that he just happens to see in a Venice, Cal., coffee shop, eventually manages to connect with her biological dad. read more

Wham! Bam! Islam Season 13, Episode 1

Season 13 premieres with new host Mary-Louise Parker introducing "Wham! Bam! Islam," about the challenges involving "The 99," a comic book about Muslim superheroes created by Kuwaiti psychologist Naif Al-Mutawa. He raised $7 million in capital, hired Marvel comic veterans and released the first issue during Ramadan 2006, but it was banned in Saudi Arabia and Middle East sales failed to meet expectations. As a result, he tried to go global without sacrificing the comic's underlying Muslim ideals. 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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