Downloads: Press Release

Filmmakers Commit to Portraying Life’s Long Arc, Following Their Subjects for Years to Capture Small Moments That Spark Great Change Across Generations; Special Broadcasts Include Michael Apted’s ’56 Up’ and Sundance Award-winner ‘American Promise’

Award-winning Documentary Series POV Moves to Monday Nights in 2013 as Part of PBS’ Commitment to Independent Film; New Season Premieres June 24 at 10 p.m.

POV (Point of View) launches its 26th season on PBS on several high notes. On the heels of winning a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the acclaimed documentary series begins its 2013 season by moving to the coveted Monday night timeslot on PBS. POV’s regular season kicks off on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 10 p.m. with Christine Turner’s Homegoings, which recently had a standing-room-only world premiere in a special Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) tribute to POV, and closes Sept. 23, 2013, with Samantha Buck’s Best Kept Secret. Four special presentations — two of them part of PBS’ Independent Film Showcase — will follow in the fall and winter.

POV’s films this season intimately explore the personal discoveries, puzzles, heartbreaks and small victories that make up everyday life. Homegoings takes viewers inside African-American funerals through the heart and soul of a man who has devoted his life to caring for the departed and their loved ones. Only the Young captures the romance, angst and economic realities of adolescence in 21st-century America with a story of California skateboarders, while Ping Pong introduces a group of over-80 seniors who refuse to go quietly into retirement; instead, they’re traveling the world and competing with the ardor of teenagers in table tennis championships.

POV takes the long view this season by presenting two special broadcasts that follow their subjects for many years. In American Promise, two black filmmakers chronicle the lives and educations of their son and his best friend for 13 years. With 56 Up, POV welcomes back acclaimed filmmaker Michael Apted for the latest installment in the beloved series that first interviewed a group of British 7-year-olds in 1964 and has revisited them every seven years.

Public education is in the spotlight in Best Kept Secret, a film about a Newark, N.J. teacher fighting the system to get her autistic students the help they desperately need, and in Brooklyn Castle, where minority kids are national chess heroes.

POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of the best contemporary independent documentary filmmakers. Since its debut in 1988, POV has aired more than 365 nonfiction films, which have earned every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. In 2012, POV films garnered five News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, a record for the series.

“POV is delighted to present an exceptional collection of personal stories during our 26th season on PBS,” said Simon Kilmurry, POV’s Executive Producer. “POV takes pride in nurturing filmmakers who have the vision and tenacity to delve deeply into the lives of their subjects and see where their stories take them, from newcomers like Christine Turner and Angad Bhalla to such veterans as Michael Apted. With their extraordinary commitment to documenting the lives of these individuals, they shed new light on the broader social and political issues that affect all of us.”

“This season, the people featured in our films thrive in spite of their challenging circumstances,” said Cynthia López, POV’s Co-Executive Producer. “When we spend time with an exceptional public school teacher in Newark or have a front-row seat at an international ping pong championship, we see the world through other people’s eyes. There can be no greater accomplishment for a filmmaker than to capture the details, setbacks, accomplishments and lessons that make every life worth sharing.”

POV 2013 Schedule (All programs air Mondays at 10 p.m.; check local listings):

June 24 Homegoings by Christine Turner
Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones “home.” An Official Selection of MoMA’s 2013 Documentary Fortnight. A co-production of ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

July 1 Special Flight by Fernand Melgar
Special Flight is a dramatic account of the plight of undocumented foreigners at the Frambois detention center in Geneva, Switzerland, and of the wardens who struggle to reconcile humane values with the harsh realities of a strict deportation system. The 25 Frambois inmates featured are among the thousands of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants imprisoned without charge or trial and facing deportation to their native countries, where they fear repression or even death. The film, made in Switzerland, is a heart-wrenching exposé of the contradictions between the country’s compassionate social policies and the intractability of its immigration laws.

July 8 Herman’s House by Angad Singh Bhalla
Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States–he’s spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman’s House is a moving account of the expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace’s “dream home” began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo’s unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art.

A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

July 15 Only the Young by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims
Only the Young follows three unconventional Christian teenagers coming of age in a small Southern California town. Skateboarders Garrison and Kevin, and Garrison’s on-and-off girlfriend, Skye, wrestle with the eternal questions of youth: friendship, true love and the promise of the future. Yet their lives are also touched by the distress signals of contemporary America–foreclosed homes, abandoned businesses and adults in financial trouble. As graduation approaches, these issues become shocking realities. With sun-drenched visuals, lyrical storytelling and a soul-music soundtrack, Only the Young embodies the innocence and candor of its youthful subjects–and of adolescence itself.

Only the Young is shown with Nancy Schwartzman’s short xoxosms, which follows the modern-day love story of Gus, a home-schooled Christian guy from small-town Illinois who takes a chance and Facebook messages Jiyun, a beautiful New York City art student from Korea. The two meet in the only place that such different people might ever find each other–online. Will things work IRL (in real life)?

July 22 High Tech, Low Life by Stephen Maing
High Tech, Low Life follows two of China’s first citizen-reporters as they document the underside of the country’s rapid economic development. A search for truth and fame inspires young vegetable seller “Zola” to report on censored news stories from the cities, while retired businessman “Tiger Temple” makes sense of the past by chronicling the struggles of rural villagers. Land grabs, pollution, rising poverty, local corruption and the growing willingness of ordinary people to speak out are grist for these two bloggers who navigate China’s evolving censorship regulations and challenge the boundaries of free speech. A co-production of ITVS and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

July 29Neurotypical by Adam Larsen
Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the “neurotypical” world–the world of the non-autistic–revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.

Aug. 5 – Encore presentation: Last Train Home by Lixin Fan
Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 240 million migrant workers return to their villages for the New Year in the world’s largest human migration. Last Train Home goes on a heart-stopping journey with a couple who left infant children behind for factory jobs 16 years ago. They return to a family growing distant and a daughter longing to leave school. As the family members navigate their new world, this award-winning film paints a rich, human portrait of today’s China. Winner, Best Documentary, 2012 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards. An EyeSteelFilm production in association with ITVS International. A co-presentation with CAAM.

Aug. 12 – Encore presentation: The City Dark by Ian Cheney
Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

Aug. 19The Law in These Parts by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz and Liran Atzmor
In The Law in These Parts, acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz has pulled off a tour-de-force examination of the system of military administration used by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967–featuring the system’s leading creators. In a series of thoughtful and candid interviews, Israeli judges, prosecutors and legal advisers who helped devise the occupation’s legal framework paint a complex picture of the Middle East conflict and the balance among political interests, security and human rights that has come with it. Winner, World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary, 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Aug. 265 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Nominated for an Oscar®, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal first-hand account of life and nonviolent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village where Israel is building a security fence. Palestinian Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, shot the film and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi co-directed. The filmmakers follow one family’s evolution over five years, witnessing a child’s growth from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him. The film is a Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production.

POV is preempted on Sept. 2, and returns the following week.

Sept. 9Ping Pong by Hugh Hartford and Anson Hartford
Call this old age, extreme edition: Seven players with 620 years between them compete in the Over 80 World Table Tennis Championships in China’s Inner Mongolia. British players Terry, 81, who has been given a week to live, and Les, 91, a weightlifter and poet, are going for the gold. Inge, 89, from Germany, has used table tennis to paddle her way out of dementia. And Texan Lisa, 85, is playing for the first time. Ping Pong is a wonderfully unusual story of hope, regret, friendship, ambition, love–and sheer human tenacity in the face of aging and mortality.

Sept. 16 The World Before Her by Nisha Pahuja
The World Before Her is a tale of two Indias. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant–a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity and Islam. Moving between these divergent realities, the film creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment–and of two women who hope to shape its future. Winner, World Documentary Competition Award, 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. A co-presentation with CAAM.

Sept. 23 Best Kept Secret by Samantha Buck
At a public school in Newark, N.J., the staff answers the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s best-kept secret.” JFK provides an exceptional environment for students with special-education needs. In Best Kept Secret, Janet Mino, who has taught a class of young men for four years, is on an urgent mission. She races against the clock as graduation approaches for her severely autistic minority students. Once they graduate and leave the security of this nurturing place, their options for living independently will be few. Mino must help them find the means to support themselves before they “age out” of the system.

Special Broadcasts: This fall, PBS will present a four-week multi-platform Independent Film Showcase on Monday nights at 10 p.m. (dates TBA) with films from POV and Independent Lens, which together provide a year-round broadcast footprint for independent filmmakers on public television. The Showcase is slated to take place during the weeks between the seasons of POV and Independent Lens.

The PBS INDIES SHOWCASE will feature two POV titles:

Oct. 7 –Brooklyn Castle by Katie Dellamaggiore
This public-school powerhouse in junior high chess competitions has won more than 30 national championships, the most of any school in the country. Its 85-member squad boasts so many strong players that the late Albert Einstein, a dedicated chess maven, would rank fourth if he were on the team. Most astoundingly, I.S. 318 is a Brooklyn school that serves mostly minority students from families living below the poverty line. Brooklyn Castle is the exhilarating story of five of the school’s aspiring young players and how chess became the school’s unlikely inspiration for academic success.

Oct. 14 –56 Up by Michael Apted
In 1964, a group of British 7-year-olds were interviewed about their lives and dreams in a groundbreaking television documentary, Seven Up. Since then, in one of the greatest projects in television history, renowned director Michael Apted has returned to film the same subjects every seven years, tracking their ups and downs. POV, which presented the U.S. broadcast premiere of 49 Up in 2007, returns with 56 Up to find the group settling into middle age and surprisingly upbeat. Through marriage and childbirth, poverty and illness, the “kids” have come to terms with both hope and disappointment.

Winner, a 2013 George Foster Peabody Award for the ‘Up’ Series.

In the fall and winter, POV will present two special broadcasts:

Thursday, Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. – Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special by The Rauch Brothers
The first-ever animated special from StoryCorps celebrates the transformative power of listening. Listening Is an Act of Love features six stories from 10 years of the innovative oral history project, where everyday people sit down together to share memories and tackle life’s important questions. Framing these intimate conversations from across the country is an interview between StoryCorps founder Dave Isay and his inquisitive 9-year-old nephew, Benji, animated in the inimitable visual style of The Rauch Brothers. Funded by CPB. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

American Promise by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (winter 2014, date/time TBA)
American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of Rada Film Group, ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by CPB. Part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by CPB. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. A co-presentation with NBPC.

To coincide with the PBS documentary, Spiegel & Grau will publish PROMISES KEPT: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life-Lessons Learned from the 12-Year American Promise Project, by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson with Hilary Beard. Where American Promise raises provocative questions, Promises Kept delivers answers, combining insights Brewster and Stephenson derived from their own experiences with the latest research on closing the black male achievement gap and providing readers with an unprecedented toolkit full of practical strategies from infancy through the teenaged years.


Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and beginning its 26th season on PBS in 2013, the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit

POV Digital (

POV’s award-winning website extends the life of our films online with interactive features, interviews, updates, video and educational content, plus listings for television broadcasts, community screenings and films available online. The POV Blog is a gathering place for documentary fans and filmmakers to discuss their favorite films and get the latest news.

POV Community Engagement and Education (
POV’s Community Engagement and Education team works with educators, community organizations and PBS stations to present more than 600 free screenings every year. In addition, we distribute free discussion guides and standards-aligned lesson plans for each of our films. With our community partners, we inspire dialogue around the most important social issues of our time.

American Documentary, Inc. (
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

POV has the honor of receiving a 2013 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the desJardins/Blachman Fund and public television viewers. Funding for POV’s Diverse Voices Project is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Special support provided by The Fledgling Fund and the Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

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POV Pressroom
Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.