Behind the Lens

Digital Premiere: June 28, 2010

2010 Filmmaker Interviews

Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker

Season 1 - American Tongues - POV Premiere Episode - July 5, 1988
Season 5 - Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics - Premiered August 31, 1992

Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker won their first Peabody in 1988 for American Tongues, a film about the differences in the way Americans speak and the attitudes people have about regional and social accents. It was the very first film broadcast on POV and since then has become something of a classic. The Washington Post described it as "celebratory and swell, right down to the closing credits" and The Los Angeles Times wrote that "this is the perfect example of a film that begins with a simple-enough subject and expands it seductively - it's enthralling."

In 1993, Alvarez and Kolker received the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award for their documentary Louisiana Boys - Raised on Politics, a rollicking look at Bayou State politics that The Washington Post called "as insightful as it is entertaining... the first documentary within memory to see the American political process for what it really is - cultural anthropology." Louisiana Boys was produced with Paul Stekler and broadcast on POV.

Twice winners of both the Peabody Award and the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, Alvarez and Kolker have produced critically praised documentaries for their production companies, Kingfish Productions and The Center for New American Media, for over 35 years.

For the past year they have been developing Past/Present, an innovative 3-D history game (formerly known as American Dynasties) to help teach American history to middle schoolers. A detailed prototype has been produced and funds are being sought to bring the game to market.


Louisiana Boys
Filmmaker Interview: Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker

In Louisiana, Mardi gras and elections run neck and neck as the number one pastime. Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics presents a cast of characters only the Bayou State could produce: Huey P. Long, his excellency, the dictator of Louisiana; Uncle Earl K. Long, committed to an asylum while he was still governor; and Jimmie Davis singing his farewell speech to the state legislature. Filmmakers Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker talk about Louisiana politics, their hopes for the film and the state of documentary filmmaking in the early 1990s in this 1992 Behind the Lens interview. (6 minutes) Watch now »

American Tongues
Rich in humor and regional color, this 1998 classic is sometimes hilarious film uses the prism of language to reveal our attitudes about the way other people speak. From Boston Brahmins to Black Louisiana teenagers, from Texas cowboys to New York professionals, American Tongues elicits funny, perceptive, sometimes shocking, and always telling comments on American English in all its diversity. (60 minutes) Watch now »

For more about Alvarez and Kolker, including a list of all of their films, visit their website at