Tag Archives: Independent Lens

WPT Previews – Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence

“We gather with far too many candles …”

Those are words of grief shared at a citywide vigil in Milwaukee for victims of gun violence. As the number of murders in the city has spiked in the past year, community members, police officials and city leaders are trying to answer questions that seem unanswerable as the dreams of more and more young people fall silent to a growing epidemic of homicides in the streets.

In this new documentary, award-winning journalist Frederica Freyberg explores the pain inflicted by the scourge of violence, law enforcement response to the rise in violent crime, and new programs providing hope for a city working to empower communities to reverse systemic forces of poverty, incarceration and crime that are tearing families and neighborhoods apart. In the search for answers, Freyberg interviews community members, public officials, church leaders and members of the families who have been directly affected by gun deaths in the city.

Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence premieres 7 p.m. Monday, May 9 on WPT. The documentary will also stream online in full at wpt.org beginning the day of broadcast. The film will air on Milwaukee Public Television 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14.

Too Many Candles: Milwaukee Gun Violence is part of WPT’s in-depth look at gun violence in America. The conversation will continue regularly on WPT’s weekly news and public affairs program, Here and Now, Friday nights at 7:30.

Two powerful Independent Lens documentaries on WPT May 9 and 10 will also cover national gun violence issues. Each film will be followed by an in-depth on-air town hall discussion:

Independent Lens: Peace Officer
8 p.m. Monday, May 9
Explore the effects of our increasingly militarized policing through the eyes of a former sheriff.

Independent Lens: The Armor of Light
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10
Follow an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who ask, is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life?

Director Stanley Nelson on Central Time and Director’s Cut

directors_cut_nelsonDirector Stanley Nelson visited Madison last week after the release of his newest documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Watch Nelson’s interview with Pete Schwaba on Director’s Cut tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television, which will be followed by a broadcast of the new film.

In this clip from Nelson’s interview for WPR’s Central Time, the prolific director discusses the cultural backdrop of his newest documentary. Want to hear more? Listen to the entire archived interview here.

Director Stanley Nelson Visits Madison

Director Stanley Nelson’s work — which includes impactful American Experience documentaries Freedom Summer and Freedom Riders, and the unprecedented upcoming documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — is important, unrivaled and prolific.

In advance of the Feb. 16 nationwide premiere of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party in detail, Nelson is taking time out of his busy schedule to visit Madison this week.

While in Madison, Nelson will attend a free screening  at the Madison Central Library, sit down with Wisconsin Public Television Director’s Cut host Pete Schwaba for an exclusive interview about his film, and appear Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 3:15 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time.

Needless to say, everyone at WPT is excited to welcome Nelson to the studios, and we hope that you can take advantage of the opportunity to meet this prolific director while he’s here or tune in to one of his interviews. Check out the details of Nelson’s screening and appearances below, and mark your calendars for the premieres of Director’s Cut: Stanley Nelson and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution Feb. 16 on WPT.

Continue reading Director Stanley Nelson Visits Madison

LGBT Pride Month: Special Programs Airing This June

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. This June on Wisconsin Public Television, enjoy programs including:

Independent Lens “The New Black”
9 p.m. Monday, June 1
See how the African American community is grappling with gay rights in light of the gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. This program documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage.

Independent Lens “We Were Here”
10:30 p.m. Friday, June 5
Both inspiring and devastating, David Weissman’s film revisits the arrival in San Francisco of what was called the “Gay Plague” in the early 1980s. It illuminates the profound issues raised by the AIDS epidemic as well as the broad political and social upheavals it unleashed, offering a cathartic validation for the generation that suffered through the onset of AIDS while opening a window of understanding to those who have only the vaguest notions of what transpired in those years.

Facing Fear
5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 14
This 30-minute documentary shows what happens when a former neo-Nazi skinhead and a gay victim of his hate crime attack meet by chance after 25 years.

Independent Lens “Limited Partnership”
9 p.m. Monday, June 15 
In 1975, when American Richard married Australian native Tony in one of the first same sex marriages performed in the U.S., they found themselves on the front lines in the battle for legal immigration status for same sex spouses.

POV “Out in the Night”
9 p.m. Monday, June 22 
Examine the uphill battle of a group of African American lesbians charged with attempted murder when they fought back after being threatened. The case reveals the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in the criminal justice system.

Out and Proud in Chicago
11 p.m. Wednesday, June 24
Hosted by actress Jane Lynch, “Out & Proud” charts the history of Chicago’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from the 19th century to the present.

Turn It Up! The Music of Muscle Shoals

Tonight at 9 on Wisconsin Public Television, Independent Lens takes us to the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama and into the small nondescript home of FAME Studios. On the surface, it seems unlikely a place to make an impact in the broad spectrum of American music. But, what an impact it’s had. Don’t believe me? Then I suggest you settle in and watch the fantastic documentary tonight and hear from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bono, Gregg Allman, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge about the music they made there and the influence that the tunes flowing from this small southern studio had on their lives and the soundtrack of ours.

Watch a quick preview of the film now and then scroll down to the bottom of this post, strap on your headphones and spin a Spotify playlist from our friends at Independent Lens of  just some of the hits that originated in Muscle Shoals from Etta James, Wilson Picket, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon, Otis Rush, Taj Mahal, Clarence Carter and more. You’ll be in the groove in no time, tapping your toes and wishing you were on that muddy river bank right now.

Don't Stop Believin'

Watch Independent Lens “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” at 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Arnel PinedaWhat are the odds of being plucked from a YouTube video and thrown into stardom? Not very good. But every so often, someone with true talent is found mixed in with the millions of hours of video.

With a hundred hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it can be hard for anyone to get noticed. Most of the viral sensations find a niche in comedy or cuteness, rack up millions of views, enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and then fall by the wayside. Just imagine the surge of disbelief that would rush over you when a few videos posted online lead to a phone call and a job offer to be a rock star.

I guess it’s true what they say – with enough hard work and dedication, anything is possible. You just have to keep doing what you’re doing and of course, never stop believing.


Watch Independent Lens “Detropia” at 9 p.m. Monday, May 27 on Wisconsin Public Television.

DetropiaIt’s amazing to see how much things can change in just a matter of years. You would never expect the fastest growing city in the country to one day turn completely around and become the country’s fastest shrinking city. I guess it’s kind of like when you move away from home and come back 10 years later to see how much everything has changed… for better or for worse.

You always hope to see vacant lots turned into city parks and abandoned houses renovated and filled with new families bringing life back to an old neighborhood. However, sometimes you return to find the vacancies spreading even farther and wider and watch the hope for recovery slowly fade away.

One thing is for sure – the rise and fall of Detroit has been and will continue to be closely monitored as a lesson for the future. All we can we do for now is hope that this is just part of a natural cycle and once it reaches a certain level, Detroit will be shocked back to life and continue to rise once again.

The Invisible War

Watch Independent Lens “The Invisible War” at 9 p.m. Monday, May 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

The Invisible WarIt’s difficult to imagine we could allow something like this to happen. It almost seems like a story pulled from long ago in the past, but sadly it’s the present. A time when we would all like to think that the world has a good system of checks and balances in place to prevent horrible acts like these from happening in the first place.

Then, to make matters worse, there was another system missing to prevent the gross abuse of power used to cover everything up and create a culture where it was best just to stay quiet. Unfortunately, this type of corruption isn’t unique to the military, but has been uncovered in groups and corporations around the world. I would like to say this is something that will get better with a time and eventually vanish from our society…

Sadly, corruption from power is an age-old tale and has by and large become part of human nature. My hope is that with ever-changing policies and new technologies, we can work towards a future where we successfully diffuse the balance of power so that no one person is ever put into an ideal position to abuse it.

A Look Ahead with WPT's Director of Programming

10 Buildings That Changed America
When I was a kid growing up in Denver one of the most exciting things to happen was the building and opening of the city’s first indoor shopping mall, Buckingham Square. The building itself wasn’t remarkable from an architectural standpoint, but the fact that you could wonder around indoors and shop was quite the amazing new experience. Flash forward to now and Buckingham Square is a dilapidated eyesore blotting the landscape with third-rate stores and very little business.

In the new PBS special 10 Buildings That Changed America host Geoffrey Baer takes us on a tour of the history and importance of ten building that have had an impact on our culture. From the monumental importance of the Virginia State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson to the modern day wonder of Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by maverick Frank Gehry, this documentary weaves a set of stories that are surprisingly entertaining without being too technical.

See the complete list of 10 Buildings That Changed America

Along the way we take a tour of local architectural giant Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago and one of my favorite structures in the country, Dulles International Airport in Virginia designed by genius Eero Saarinen. 10 Buildings That Changed America premieres 8 p.m. Monday, May 13.

Independent Lens The Invisible War
I don’t want to write a lot about this film because I want you to watch it and form your own emotions and opinions of the documentary.

“The Invisible War” from Independent Lens is an Academy Award-nominated documentary that examines the pervasive physical and sexual abuse suffered by female soldiers in the United States military. To be clear this film is about women who have been raped by male military personnel, and the institutions that both perpetuate and cover up these crimes. It’s a very emotional, enraging film that everyone should see. Independent Lens “The Invisible War” premieres on 9 p.m. Monday, May 13.

The airing of this documentary is quite timely. At a White House news conference Tuesday, President Obama said, “The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this.”  Read more on the President’s response to the rise in sexual assaults in the military in a New York Times report.

American Masters “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise”
“It’s good to be King.” And that’s exactly what Mel Brooks is — the king of great comedy movies. I’ve seen “Blazing Saddles” at least eight times and will always stop on any channel that is airing a Brooks film. His comedy is quirky, bizarre, insulting, insensitive, observational, and above all brilliant. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think “Young Frankenstein” is one of the funniest movies ever made.

In this new American Masters bio, the filmmakers take a brilliant and twisted look at Brooks’ career, using scenes from his numerous films and television appearances, and talking with his friends. Brooks himself is front and center in the film and provides an even greater glimpse into his mind and creative process. If you want a good, hearty laugh check out American Masters “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise,” which premiers 8 p.m. Monday, May 20 and encores on Wednesday, May 22 at 7 p.m.


Carole King: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize In Performance at the White House
I’m delighted that this late addition to the schedule came to reality. Just before putting the May schedule to bed we received word from PBS that Carole King was being honored with this prestigious award, and that it would be taped for broadcast in May. Because the show has not yet been taped I can’t tell you how awesome it is, but with the brilliance of Carole King and the grandiose setting of the White House you can bet this will be one very special hour of television. Carole King: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize In Performance at the White House premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.

NOVA Manhunt – Boston Bombers
In the wake of the tragic bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the producers at NOVA went to work on this special that looks at the technical and scientific resources brought to bare to catch the culprits. The NOVA team took a meticulous step-by-step examination of the rapidly unfolding detective story to show how investigators used sophisticated technology and plain, old hard work to identify the bombers. NOVA “Manhunt – Boston Bombers” premieres on Wednesday, May 29 at 8 p.m. Those of you in the Madison viewing area can see the episode online at wpt.org or during its encore broadcast, Tuesday, June 4 at 11 p.m.