April showers bring more… documentaries! With the opening of POV’s annual Call for Entries and the start of our 29th season on PBS, we wanted to refresh your minds on what POV looks for in a film.
POV’s yearly open call welcomes any filmmaker to submit their non-fiction film for broadcast consideration. Each year we receive over 1,400 submissions vying for 12-16 slots on the POV broadcast schedule.
First of all, your film should be a documentary. While we all love a good fiction film, we only program non-fiction works.
The following is not a checklist of characteristics that your film must encompass, rather these are a few things that we look for when programming our series:
“Point of View”
You don’t have to be in your film to make it a ‘POV’ film, but we appreciate films that bring subjective ‘voice’ or perspective to their topic, often a contemporary social issue. Our films are often personal views of the world, but not necessarily political viewpoints.
- Roger & Me by Michael Moore
- Street Fight by Marshall Curry
- The Beaches of Agnès by Agnès Varda
- American Revolutionary by Grace Lee
- When I Walk by Jason DaSilva
- Art and Craft by Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker
- From This Day Forward by Sharon Shattuck
Storytelling is exemplary and often aesthetically unique
We welcome a variety of styles and approaches, including hybrid genres. By no means do we wish to eliminate the traditional documentary form from consideration, however as the industry is changing and growing, we embrace filmmakers who seek to push the envelope of the documentary form. POV films take an average of 3-5 years to make, in some cases, even longer.
- Sweetgrass by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor
- El Velador by Natalia Almada
- Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzmán
- 56 Up by Michael Apted
- American Promise by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (move aside, Linklater!)
- The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer
- Cutie and the Boxer by Zachary Heinzerling
- The Birth of Saké by Erik Shirai
Offer a springboard for discussion, dialogue and increased cross-cultural awareness
Our brief log line is “POV films put a human face on contemporary social issues”. They’re known for their strong storytelling, compelling characters and real-life drama shaped by the unique perspective of a filmmaker with something to say to a large audience. Our films are often used in communities for meaningful discussions on topics that are not often explored/considered. POV films have a national and international resonance.
- The Oath by Laura Poitras
- Give Up Tomorrow by Michael Collins
- Homegoings by Christine Turner
- High Tech, Low Life by Stephen Maing
- Best Kept Secret by Samantha Buck
- After Tiller by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
- Tough Love by Stephanie Wang-Breal
- Return to Homs by Talal Derki
- The Look of Silence by Joshua Oppenheimer
Diverse communities not commonly represented on television
Our films come from a wide spectrum of personal, cultural, political and geographical perspectives. We feature a wide range of work reflecting the breadth of independent production today, as well as the diverse world we live in. POV films tell stories that are typically not available on mainstream media.
- Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs
- Silverlake Life by Tom Joslin and Peter Friedman
- Steam of Life by Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen
- Sun Kissed by Maya Stark and Adi Lavy
- Up Heartbreak Hill by Erica Scharf
- My Way to OIympia by Niko von Glasow
- 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story by Nadine Pequeneza
- Out in the Night by blair dorosh-walther
- Don’t Tell Anyone by Mikaela Shwer
- The Return by Kelly Duane De La Vega and Katie Galloway
The Nitty Gritty
Ultimately there are other essentials that will also factor into the decision-making process, such as availability of U.S. broadcast rights, compliance with PBS underwriting guidelines, etc. For more details, please read carefully our Submissions Guidelines.
Explore Your Options
Once you’ve decided that POV is the place for your film try to remember that our selection process is an incredibly competitive one. On an annual basis we have over 1,400 projects competing for 12-16 slots! Make sure that you have simultaneous submissions going, so that in the case of bad news, you can turn your attention to whomever is next. Filmmaking is a huge commitment, and finishing your film is something you should be proud of. Every series has a mandate, so focus your energy on targeting the series or channels that best suit your film. Then cross your fingers.
Now, are you ready to submit your project? Our programming team is ready and excited to see what’s out there! Head on over to our Call for Entries and submit your film. For further instructions, see our Call for Entries blog post. And as always, our team is on hand should you have any questions. Drop us a line at cfe[at]pov.org or call 212-989-8121 x380.