"The Education of Shelby Knox" follows an engaging Lubbock, Texas, teen as she campaigns over three years for sex education in Lubbock's public schools. A Baptist who has pledged "sexual purity," Shelby nonetheless is evolving into a political liberal. Her campaign won't be easy. Nor will another campaign, for a high-school gay-straight alliance, and Shelby will learn why there aren't many liberals in Lubbock. More important, she'll become her "own person."
"Senorita Extraviada," filmmaker Lourdes Portillo's mournful musings on the unsolved murders of some 270 young women in and around Juarez, Mexico, since 1993. Portillo's mission is "to track down the ghosts," she says, "and to listen to the mystery that surrounds them." Portillo also charts the police investigations of the crimes (and explores allegations of police wrongdoing). But mostly she seeks out the relatives of victims.
The sweetest sound in the world is one's own name, says filmmaker Alan Berliner, who ruminates on names in general and his own in particular in this offbeat hour. Berliner explores his name with help from his family, and asks people on New York streets their opinions of the name Alan. He also interviews an INS official, an Ellis Island librarian and members of the Jim Smith Society (it has just one entrance requirement). And he invites every Alan Berliner he can find to dinner (12 show up).
"Girls Like Us" tracks four South Philadelphia teens over four years, letting them describe what it's like to be a female teenager in inner-city America. Filmmakers Jane C. Wagner and Tina DiFeliciantonio won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.