POV’s 30th Season on PBS Provides Moving Stories on World Conflicts and Compelling Narratives of Humanity’s Faith, Courage and Diversity
Our country — and world — is divided, or so say the talking heads and headlines. As newsfeeds and timelines update in rapid-fire succession and phones buzz with ever-constant breaking news, POV’s 30th season steps in, presenting powerful stories from the unseen and unheard, and from seemingly distant and disparate communities. From Syrian immigrants adjusting to life in Los Angeles, to North Carolina’s rural black community, to suburban police forces navigating rising tensions in their neighborhoods, these films offer a timely montage of diverse stories threaded together by universal desires for inclusion, success and safety.
The 30th season of POV begins Monday, June 26, 2017 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS with streaming at pov.org and continues with broadcast premieres airing on Mondays at 10 p.m. through fall 2017, with primetime specials airing in 2018. POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series.
The season kicks off with a series of films on the Syrian war and the ongoing global refugee crisis. The first, Dalya’s Other Country, follows a young Syrian girl and her mother displaced by the conflict at home as they adjust to their new life in Los Angeles. The feature doc will premiere with two shorts, 4.1 Miles, an Oscar®-nominated short spotlighting a small Greek town on the sea and the coast guard’s daily efforts at saving thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. For some refugees, new beginnings bring hope and opportunity. In From Damascus to Chicago, two young Syrian siblings resettle in Chicago and enroll in a dance class, while their family navigates a new city and new country.
The special series turns to the collateral damage of the Syrian civil war with The War Show and Last Men in Aleppo. Captured through the lens of radio host Obaidah Zytoon, The War Show is a wrenching chronicle that starts with the country’s protests in 2011 and the youth that fueled them, then follows its descent into violent conflict. Last Men in Aleppo unveils the war’s terrifying aftermath, and the volunteer rescue workers and first responders known as the White Helmets who stayed behind to pull their neighbors from the rubble.
Back in the United States, POV brings the spotlight to overlooked communities across the country. In Raising Bertie, African-American boys come of age in rural North Carolina, and in Memories of a Penitent Heart, a filmmaker digs into her family’s past to reconstruct the life of her late uncle, whose Catholic and Puerto Rican family spurned him as he expressed his gay identity in New York in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.
Recent developments in the criminal justice system also take center stage this season. Tribal Justice delves into the practice of restorative justice—championed by two Native American judges in California who emphasize rehabilitative and personal interventions with youth threatened by the school-to-prison pipeline in their community. Other insights into our justice system are more threatening in Do Not Resist, which depicts municipal police forces that are rapidly militarizing with the blessing of the federal government.
Communities don’t live in isolation, however, and two films showcase remarkable cross-cultural connections spanning the globe and through generations. In Presenting Princess Shaw, Samantha Montgomery, a caretaker at a New Orleans nursing home by day, moonlights as a singer and songwriter under the stage name Princess Shaw. Her dreams of stardom come that much closer to reality when an Israeli producer and international YouTube star discovers her on the video-sharing site. In the Oscar®-nominated short Joe’s Violin, a violin donated at a school instrument drive becomes the unlikely catalyst for a friendship between a 91-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor and a 12-year-old Bronx schoolgirl.
Two films focus on the lives of those with developmental disabilities, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. In The Grown-Ups, middle-aged adults with Down syndrome yearn for independence, while in Swim Team, adolescent swimmers on the autism spectrum — and their parents — find a place of inclusion and understanding.
POV’s 30th season also celebrates, and contemplates, the passage of time. In Motherland, a glimpse into the world’s busiest maternity ward, located in the Philippines, captures the hopes and challenges that come with motherhood and depicts newborns’ first days. Other films capture people at the twilight of the lives. Shalom Italia is a surprisingly light-hearted journey undertaken by three Italian-born Jewish brothers who, 70 years after emigrating to Israel, endeavor to find the Tuscan cave where they hid to evade the Nazis. In My Love, Don’t Cross That River, an elderly Korean couple live every day like newlyweds, even though they have been together for 76 years and must face the reality of aging. In Cameraperson, celebrated director Kirsten Johnson weaves vignettes of past filmmaking works into a moving tapestry of memories lived and experienced.
“In times of political division, POV offers stories with universal import,” said POV executive director/executive producer Justine Nagan. “Issues like immigration, criminal justice and veterans’ issues are given more than the cable-news treatment, and talented directors are given a prime-time audience on PBS. From national broadcast and streaming to impactful community screenings, we are bringing important stories, vibrant characters and diverse filmmaking perspectives into living rooms and town halls across all 50 states.”
Executive producer Chris White added, “We enter our newest season at a time when people can tell their stories more easily than ever before, and documentary filmmaking and public media are integral to that development. We’re thrilled that such talented filmmakers, whether veterans in the field or emerging storytellers, will join us for our 30th season and spotlight journeys that would otherwise go untold.” (PBS)