Ten years ago, POV launched a new online tool to make it easier for communities to use PBS documentaries for local engagement and national impact. For our 30th birthday, the POV Community Network gets a new look! Meet the redesigned POV Community Network and join over 10,000 organizations, librarians, educators, engaged individuals and PBS stations using film as a catalyst for conversation.

The POV Community Network is a platform for screening facilitators to explore the 100+ feature documentaries, shorts and digital projects in our lending library and host community screenings. Partners can also screen POV’s current 30th anniversary season of films prior to their PBS broadcasts-for free! The POV Community Network also offers a catalogue of resources that can be used to engage audiences in dialogue around the most pressing issues of our time, including over 200 discussion guides, standards-aligned lesson plans with streaming film clips, reading lists and publicity materials. Films and digital projects are searchable by title or topics, with one-click access to trailers and resources.

Have you ever watched a documentary and come away with a different opinion about an issue or a renewed desire to get involved? What do you do, besides urging all of your friends to view the film? Every year, POV’s community partners organize 700+ screenings, discussions, and activities to encourage civic debate and engagement.

Inspired by our partners, we put together a list of ways to use the POV Community Network to deepen viewers’ engagement and prompt action. Have more ideas? Share them with us at events@pov.org or on Twitter at @povengage!

30 Ways to Use the POV Community Network

  1. Screen one of the following films about refugees. After the film, brainstorm ways you can support local organizations that resettle refugees—or start your own initiative. For example: organize a fundraiser or a drive to collect donations of supplies and food, volunteer to teach English, offer childcare, set up a peer-to-peer buddy program for refugee children and teens, organize a presentation at your school to share the stories of refugee families, offer legal or translation services and reach out to your elected officials and share your opinions about state and national policies.
  2. Look at the Local Screenings Map and type in your zip code to find POV screenings in your area. If there are no upcoming events, find a local organization (for example, a library or community center) and reach out to them to propose a screening.
  3. Invite local law enforcement officials and people who have experienced police violence to join a “Working Group” on police-community relations. At the first meeting, screen Do Not Resist. Then hold a dialogue that helps each group understand the other’s perspective and clarifies misconceptions. Make a list of shared goals, and discuss ways that police officers and community members can cooperate to reach those goals.
  4. After screening one of the following films, reach out to veterans and others who have lived through war and interview them about their experiences. Try to speak to people from a range of age groups, nationalities, and genders (if possible, conduct video or phone interviews with people who aren’t in your community). Ask tough questions: did war change your relationship with your homeland? Is there such thing as justified violence? Is the world a better place after this war? How can we use the lessons from the conflicts you experienced to avoid war in the future? Using these interviews, produce an oral history project that examines the differences and commonalities of wartime experiences. Come up with a way to present these veterans’ stories to a broader community, and with each other.
  5. Choose a film on a topic that you’d like to learn more about and organize a book club. Use the Delve Deeper Reading List for the film to select a book and then screen the film at the club meeting as a way to spark discussion.
  6. After screening one of the following films, find five news pieces (e.g. newspaper or magazine articles, television segments, radio clips) that address the Syrian conflict or Syrian refugees. Ask a family member or friend where they get their news, and include a piece from that outlet. Compare your pieces and assess their credibility using the media literacy standards discussed in the films’ Lesson Plans. Do the sources present conflicting information or different angles? Write a short essay that analyzes these differences and comments on the neutrality of each source. Explain your findings to the friend or family member and ask whether your discussion changes the way they approach the news source.
  7. Set up a conversation with Muslims in your community to discuss common misconceptions about their faith and culture. Based on that conversation, create a publicity campaign to help educate others. Design posters, a video, or a game that uses humor to confront ignorance and stereotyping.
  8. Watch Koch and host a Q&A or panel discussion with longtime residents of New York City. Ask them to share their observations about how the city has changed. Have them describe some of the most influential New Yorkers that contributed to the city’s evolution. Help your guest speaker lead a tour of a New York neighborhood and have them point out landmarks of historical importance.
  9. Are you an artist? A dancer, a musician, a painter or a doodler? Watch one of these films and think of ways your art can be used as a method of healing. Organize a program or event to share your art with people who are in need of healing.
  10. What responsibilities do we have towards refugees and immigrants? Screen the following films, or excerpts from these films, and host a debate about the role of the United States in helping refugees escape war and persecution.
  11. Screen one of the following films about the criminal justice system, then organize a public debate to examine the arguments for and against one of the following policies: the death penalty, the “three strikes” rule, juvenile life sentences, restorative justice as an alternative to incarceration, mental illness treatment for incarcerated individuals, prostitution, self-defense and “stand your ground” laws, hate crime sentencing guidelines, and private prisons.
  12. After screening Raising Bertie, get involved with an alternative education program in your community that serves disadvantaged young people. Find ways to connect them with local mentors or resources such as office visits, presentations, job application workshops, and mock interviews. Collect the success stories of the program’s graduates and share these with current students.
  13. Host a screening of Motherland and deliver a presentation about women’s reproductive health in the United States. How do statistics about maternal and infant health compare to developing countries, and other developed countries? Is there anything we can learn from other countries? Compose a policy brief that suggests ways to improve our approach to reproductive health, childbirth and parenting and send it to your elected representatives.
  14. After screening Cameraperson, find photos and videos that you have shot and create a multimedia piece using these clips. If you wish, add music or commentary. Share this piece with friends and family, including those who live far away.
  15. Screen My Love, Don’t Cross that River, then find a couple that has been married for more than 30 years and interview them about their marriage. What’s their secret to a successful partnership? What challenges have they faced? What has surprised them about marriage? What advice would they give to a young couple?
  16. Join or start a recreational sports league. Organize a screening of Swim Team or Ping Pong and discuss how sports bring people together. Organize a program that connects experienced athletes to novices to teach them a new sport.
  17. If you’re an American, chances are your family immigrated to the U.S. sometime in the last few generations. How much do you know about your family history? Choose an immigrant in your family – whether a living family member or an ancestor – and learn as much as you can about them. Where were they born and what was it like growing up in their circumstances? What brought them to America? What kind of world did they dream of and strive for? How did they get there, or what obstacles stood in their way? Ask friends to do the same, then host a potluck dinner where each guest brings a dish from their immigrant’s home country and gives a short talk about the person’s life. For inspiration, screen one of the following:
  18. Almost everyone has misconceptions about disabilities and mental illness. In a group, make a list of your assumptions about the abilities of people with autism, Downs Syndrome or other disabilities and invite a disabled person (or someone who works with disabled people) to give a presentation that addresses those preconceptions. Ask them about what they wish most people knew about them. How can your school or community change their policies to better accommodate people with disabilities?
  19. Screen one of the following films about communities that have been displaced. Host a discussion about land ownership, displacement of indigenous communities, and forced migration. What does it mean for a group of people to feel ownership of a physical space? What is the meaning of citizenship and who should get to define it? Discuss your feelings towards your own homeland. What obligations (if any) should a community have towards the former residents of the place where they reside? If possible, invite indigenous people to speak about their experiences with migration.
  20. Screen Critical Condition and host a teach-in about the United States healthcare system. Invite speakers who represent some of the following stakeholders: patients, doctors, healthcare professionals, policymakers, activists, and insurance companies. After the discussion, split into small groups and create proposals for an “ideal” healthcare system. Have each group pitch their ideas to the whole group, and compile the best ideas in a letter to your elected representatives.
  21. Screen Don’t Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie) or Sin Pais and brainstorm ways to gives voice to people in your community who are afraid to speak out because of their immigration status or victimization. Create a public art project that amplifies the stories of these people in a way that makes them feel visible and supported. Invite a local elected official to an event that showcases this project and convey to them your views on immigration policy.
  22. Watch excerpts from Hooligan Sparrow, Ai Weiwei, Of Civil Rights and Wrongs: the Fred Korematsu Story, and The Camden 28, and host a discussion comparing different forms of political activism in the United States and China. What are the different social problems that activists have responded to in each country? What are the challenges these activists encountered from their governments? Can Chinese and American activists learn from each other’s tactics?
  23. Big Men and Food, Inc. pull back the curtain on the two major industries to reveal the origins of resources – oil and food – that most of us use everyday without a second thought. Choose a product that you use every day and do a research project on its origins. Give a presentation on that industry and discuss its impact on the people, animals and environment involved in its production. Does this change the way you will consume that product? In a group discussion, make a list of ways to make our consumption more ethical and think of ways to hold each other accountable to these goals.
  24. What is masculinity? Femininity? What have your parents and role models taught you about how your gender should look and behave? Screen excerpts from one of the following films, then host a discussion with the audience. What experiences have you had that have defined your gender identity, and have you ever felt pressure to act in a certain way or participate in certain activities because of social expectations about gender? On a piece of paper, anonymously write a gender-based expectation that you wish you could change, and put these into a bowl. Pass the bowl around and have each person read aloud a piece of paper, then discuss each expectation.
  25. Our discussions of climate change often focus on the future. The Islands and the Whales shows us how climate change is currently affecting the day-to-day lives of fishermen on the Faroe Islands. Investigate how changes in the environment are already affecting a community, and create a piece – writing, audio, photography or video – that documents these changes. Try to center the personal experiences of individuals rather than the statistical or big-picture view of climate change, although you may wish to include that information as well.
  26. After screening one of these films, write a letter to someone who is incarcerated – either someone you know or a stranger. Ask them what they miss about the outside world. Then, come up with a way to bring them an approximation of what they miss – whether it’s an art piece, a book, or the voice of a loved one.
  27. Use one of these films to spark a discussion about how the internet is changing our lives. Come up with a list of ways that our relationships are either strengthened or impoverished by online communication. For one week, try to change something about the way you use the internet – abstain from social media, for example, or post a daily photo diary on Instagram. Return to the group with your observations about the pitfalls of the web, and create a list of ways we can modify our internet use to feel more connected and fulfilled.
  28. Screen one of the following films that feature senior citizens, then interview elderly folks in your community. Ask them questions about their most memorable experiences and then stage short plays to reenact these stories. Invite multiple generations to a public performance of these plays.
  29. Screen one of the following films and discuss different ways that the U.S. federal and local governments protect residents from environmental harm. Is climate change part of the conversation around public health? How can “natural disasters” hurt already-marginalized communities and exacerbate inequality? What is the government’s responsibility towards those who live in the regions most vulnerable to environmental damage?
  30. Screen Waging a Living and then lead an activity that simulates the experience of living in poverty. Assign students a character (e.g., single mom with two kids, two part-time jobs, has a medical condition) a list of items with their costs, and an income, and ask students to come up with a monthly budget. Discuss the decisions that they made about how to spend their income, and what kinds of aid the government should provide to people like that character. In the discussion, highlight the ways the government provides resources to different people (for example: the mortgage interest deduction) and note the different ways we talk about each of these government subsidies.

Visit our local events calendar for a full list of events happening across the country and join our Community Network to host a screening of your own!

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.