Independent Lens Episodes

1999, TV Show

Independent Lens Season 14 episodes

The Waiting Room; Let Me Down Easy Season 14, Episode 19

"The Waiting Room" looks inside the ER waiting room at Oakland's Highland Hospital, a safety-net hospital that sees 250 people, most of whom do not have health insurance, in its ER every day. Among them: a child with strep throat; a young man with a testicular tumor who needs surgery; and a senior citizen with diabetes. Also: an excerpt from Anna Deavere Smith's play, "Let Me Down Easy." read more

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey Season 14, Episode 18

The story of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who was asked to join Journey in 2007 by guitarist Neal Schon after Schon came across YouTube videos of Pineda singing classic-rock songs. read more

The Revolutionary Optimists Season 14, Episode 17

The Season 14 finale features "The Revolutionary Optimists," about social activist Amlan Ganguly's work to empower poor children in India. Under his tutelage, young Sikha and Salim campaign to bring a community tap of potable water to their Kolkata slum, which is two miles away from the nearest source of drinkable water. Other children he seeks to help are 12-year-old Kajal, who works at a brickyard; and teenage dancer Priyanka, who sees only one way to escape her abusive parents: marriage. read more

Detropia Season 14, Episode 16

"Detropia" delves into the difficulties facing the Motor City, which include a declining population and disappearing jobs, through the eyes of Detroiters, including a bar owner, a blogger, a local union president, young artists and illegal "scrappers" who sell steel and copper pipes they salvage from abandoned buildings. read more

The Invisible War Season 14, Episode 15

The acclaimed "Invisible War" examines the disturbing prevalence of rape within the U.S. military, paying particular attention to what many view as institutional corruption that ignores the problem. The film includes interviews with women who were raped during their military service, and investigates what can be done to stop the crimes from going unpunished. read more

Seeking Asian Female Season 14, Episode 14

"Seeking Asian Female" examines a white baby boomer's obsession with Asian women, which long ago led him to mail-order catalogs and international dating sites in search of a bride. His search ends with a Chinese woman about half his age who doesn't quite fit his fantasy. Neither does he, a parking-lot attendant, for her. From a poor family, she'd hoped for someone wealthy. Filmmaker Debbie Lum narrates the story, which began as a "yellow fever" exposé before she succumbed to the couple's charms. read more

The Undocumented Season 14, Episode 13

Undocumented immigrants who died while crossing the border between Mexico and Arizona are the focus of this documentary, which features the Pima County, Ariz., medical examiners who work to identify their remains; and Border Patrol agents who balance law enforcement with saving lives during the hot summer months, when temperatures can reach deadly levels. Also: an undocumented Mexican immigrant's search for his father, who disappeared while attempting to cross the Sonora Desert. read more

The Island President Season 14, Episode 12

A chronicle of the first year in office of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, who undertakes a campaign to raise awareness about the catastrophic consequences of global warming, culminating in a trip to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit. His passion for the cause is fueled by self-preservation: His island nation will become a modern Atlantis if sea levels continue to rise. A savvy politician, his stirring speech on the subject leads to an agreement when it seems the summit may end without one. read more

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines Season 14, Episode 11

Examining the evolution of Wonder Woman and other female superheroes, whose depictions through the decades have often mirrored societal anxieties about strong women. The film features Lynda Carter ("Wonder Woman") and Lindsay Wagner ("The Bionic Woman"); Gloria Steinem; comics artist-writer Trina Robbins; original Riot Grrl Kathleen Hanna; Wonder Woman fans; and author Jen Stuller ("Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology"). read more

The House I Live In Season 14, Episode 10

Eugene Jarecki's provocative "The House I Live In" examines America's 40-year war on drugs, which has resulted in more than $1 trillion in government spending, 45 million arrests and an incarceration rate that's the highest in the world. At the same time, illegal drugs have become cheaper and easier to get. The documentary shares stories from those on the front lines, including narcotics officers, drug dealers, grieving parents and reporter-turned-TV auteur David Simon ("The Wire"). read more

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Season 14, Episode 9

Profiling Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei, who helped design Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest Olympic stadium and later criticized the Games as party propaganda. His opposition to his country's autocratic rule, which he voices in his art and on social media, has caused him many difficulties, as filmmaker Alison Klayman witnesses during the making of this documentary: Government authorities shut down Ai's blog, beat him up, demolish his studio and hold him in secret detention for 81 days. read more

The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights Season 14, Episode 8

Remembering Whitney Young, who led the National Urban League from 1961 until his death in 1971 at age 49. During those years, he played a pivotal role in expanding access to jobs, education and housing for blacks, primarily by forging personal relationships with business and political leaders. That approach led to criticism from some activists, who accused him of being a sellout. But as President Nixon observed at Young's funeral, "He knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for." read more

The Revisionaries Season 14, Episode 7

Examining the debate over textbook standards as it plays out among members of the Texas State Board of Education, whose decisions on what and what not to include in textbooks wield major influence on publishers due to the state being one of the industry's biggest markets. read more

Beauty Is Embarrassing Season 14, Episode 6

A portrait of visual artist Wayne White, whose work is an indelible part of American pop culture due to his contributions to "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and such music videos as Peter Gabriel's "Big Time." Those early successes were followed by a fall, however, a time accented by struggle, self-reflection and ultimately reinvention as a respected painter and performer. Included: remarks from Matt Groening, Paul Reubens, Mark Mothersbaugh, Todd Oldham, Gary Panter, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. read more

Soul Food Junkies Season 14, Episode 5

Filmmaker Byron Hurt examines the soul-food tradition of black culture. Because soul food is often cooked with lots of fat, sugar and salt, it can lead to obesity and other health issues, as happened to Hurt's father, who died at age 63 from pancreatic cancer. Along the way, he talks with soul-food cooks, historians, doctors and everyday people; and details the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods that can make it difficult for residents to find healthy food options. read more

Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream Season 14, Episode 4

A look at income disparity in the U.S. In Manhattan, 740 Park Ave. is home to the highest concentration of billionaires in the U.S.; about five miles away, in the South Bronx, the same road runs through the nation's poorest congressional district. read more

Solar Mamas Season 14, Episode 3

A look at India's Barefoot College, which teaches rural and poor women how to create self-reliant, sustainable communities. One student, a mother of four from Jordan, leaves her village for the first time in order to learn about solar engineering. But her education is jeopardized by her husband, who threatens to divorce her and take away their children if she doesn't return home. read more

Love Free or Die Season 14, Episode 2

The story of V. Gene Robinson, who became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church when he was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003. The documentary accompanies him to President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, small-town churches and a 2008 Anglican gathering in London. read more

As Goes Janesville Season 14, Episode 1

Chronicling three years in the lives of the residents of Janesville, Wis., following the 2008 closing of a century-old GM plant. For laid-off workers, that means seeking new employment in a decidedly difficult economic environment. Business leaders, meanwhile, seek a pro-business dynamic in hopes of attracting new companies to the region; and the state becomes engulfed in a political firestorm when Gov. Scott Walker champions a bill to end collective bargaining for public employees. read more

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Premiered: August 09, 1999, on PBS
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (21 ratings)
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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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