What We Watch: Deb Piper

Headshot of a smiling Deb PiperDeb Piper, producer and manager of remote production, has worked in public broadcasting for 30 years – almost all of it right here at Wisconsin Public Television.

She’s particularly proud of the miles our crews have traveled throughout the state, capturing music in intriguing venues. One of them includes beautiful Madeline Island in Lake Superior, where WPT crew captured world-class chamber music from talented young artists. Music From Madeline Island premieres 8 p.m. Monday, June 10.

Read on for some of Deb’s public TV favorites!

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Director’s Cut season finale: John Whitehead

We wrap up Season 12 of Director’s Cut with an excellent music documentary. Director John Whitehead rolls into town to discuss his film Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops Story.

A documentary portrait of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a string band from Raleigh, North Carolina, and their mentor, fiddler Joe Thompson (1919—2012). The film captures how three musicians from the hip-hop generation embraced a 19th-century genre and took it to new heights, winning a Grammy in 2010. The story of the band’s rise, from busking on the street to playing major festivals, is informed by the history of the banjo’s origins in Africa, and the untold story of the black string band tradition.

Read on to learn how this film owes its existence to great timing – and see a special bonus video from right here at WPT!

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Celebrate LGBTQ Pride this June on WPT!

Diverse perspectives contribute greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the culture and diversity of Wisconsin residents. Fifty years after the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969 (read more here!), Wisconsin Public Television is pleased to share Pride Month programs honoring many facets of LGBTQ life and history.

Read on for a selection of scripted and nonfiction programs airing this month, as well as exciting multimedia content from StoryCorps – that needs your story, too!

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Director’s Cut: Yinan Wang, Yujin Wang and Dick Blau, Yen Ching

While watching this week’s Director’s Cut, prepare to find yourself craving Chinese food (I’m a Kung Pao Chicken guy).

The documentary Yen Ching takes us to a Chinese restaurant on Milwaukee’s northwest side, watching the family dynamics in play.

Yen Ching (5 mins) from Yinan Wang on Vimeo.

Yen Ching takes an intimate look at how a typical Chinese restaurant owner, and his children, practice their very different American dreams. The film sheds light on their lives as it explores the owner’s dilemma. Neither of his sons, for very different reasons, want to follow the traditional Chinese/Chinese-American path in which children take over the family business.

Read on to learn more about this film, as well as director Yinin Wang’s unique connection to his subjects!

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Director’s Cut: Shorts

This week on Director’s Cutwe switch things up a bit by focusing on short films. Tune in as I welcome six directors to discuss their work ranging in genre from comedy to drama to the slightly sci-fi – even a touch of the supernatural! It’ll be a fast-paced show, as I only have a few minutes with each director. Short films = short interviews. 

Read on for more!

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Director’s Cut: Keri Pickett and Roy Blakey, The Fabulous Ice Age

It’s all about about the golden age of figure skating on this week’s Director’s Cut! I was delighted to welcome director/producer/cinematographer Keri Pickett and one of her subjects, Roy Blakey, discussing their documentary The Fabulous Ice Age.

The Fabulous Ice Age trailer from Keri Pickett on Vimeo.

The journey begins in 1915, when a young German skater ignites America’s love with dancing on ice. The Fabulous Ice Age chronicles a century of theatrical skating: from Berlin’s Charlotte to America’s Ice Follies, Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and the Sonja Henie shows, illustrating how they dominated live entertainment for decades while also depicting one skater’s quest to share this history.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with Pickett and Blakey!

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Q&A – Not Enough Apologies: Trauma Stories

A young Everett Mitchell and his sister play on swings.

After addressing issues of gun violence in the 2016 documentary Too Many Candles, Wisconsin Public Television’s Frederica Freyberg wanted to tackle another issue that seemed too big to address in the same program.

Not Enough Apologies: Trauma Stories premieres 8 p.m Monday, May 13. and is available to watch online now.

The one-hour film, produced by Freyberg, explores the lasting effects of traumatic experiences, such as abuse and neglect, on children and adults. It also shares new responses to advocating for, and assisting, trauma victims. Throughout the film, trauma survivors share their stories in their own words.

Read on for an in-depth Q&A with Freyberg on how this sobering yet valuable project came to life.

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Director’s Cut: Carol Brandt, Pet Names

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s my pleasure to welcome director Carol Brandt, discussing her film Pet Names.

Pet Names | Official Trailer from Carol Brandt on Vimeo.

When her chemotherapy-patient mother urges her to take a vacation from playing nurse, grad school dropout Leigh invites her old high school boyfriend along on a camping trip. The two soon find that confronting old wounds during a weekend in the woods is anything but restful.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with director Carol Brandt!

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Tune In: “Breakthrough” presents Ideas That Changed The World

Through incredible, lesser-known stories of familiar history, the PBS series Breakthrough – The Ideas That Changed the World captures the secrets of today’s world through surprising accidents, colorful characters, and moments of joy and despair.

Artwork of an explosion with inventions – a jet, a car, a smartphone and more – emanate from the centerBreakthrough presents six iconic modern objects through thousands of years of historical precedents. What discoveries came first? Which inventions and ideas paved the way – and where, and why?

In the fourth episode, The Car, explore the history of the automobile, from its roots in dogsleds to scientists working on the next generation of self-driving cars.

Breakthrough – The Ideas That Changed The World: The Car premieres 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Read on to discover how 9,000 years of innovation set the stage for a machine that continues to excite and move us.

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Director’s Cut: Michael McGuire, “Aquarians”

Welcome to Season 12 of Director’s Cut on Wisconsin Public Television. Helping us shout “Action!” this Friday night is director Michael McGuire, discussing his film Aquarians.

AQUARIANS Official Trailer from Michael McGuire on Vimeo.

After an absence of several years, seminary student Daniel Sullivan returns to his wintry, Wisconsin hometown of Silver River. But if he’s to assist the dying Father Rob, he’s going to need to sway the skeptics who learn that he hasn’t spoken to his younger brother, Jake – a reclusive pot dealer – in years.  

With the help of a young woman from his past, Danny tracks his brother down, and the two embark on a ride of faith, ice fishing, temptation, drugs, and rock ‘n roll on the way to confronting their shared scars from a past tragedy that shaped their lives.

Read on for more about this film, and about my interview with director Michael McGuire!

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