August 26, 2008

Groundbreaking Civic Engagement Initiative Launches Fourth Season to Support PBS Programming in 50 Cities Nationwide

The Independent Television Service (ITVS), co-presenter of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series "Independent Lens," today announced a fourth consecutive season of its groundbreaking Community Cinema program. A free monthly screening series engaging communities through film, Community Cinema connects people with local organizations and resources on important social issues in more than 50 cities across the country.

"We are thrilled to bring Community Cinema to tens of thousands of people in dozens of communities across the country for another year," said Sally Jo Fifer, president and CEO of ITVS. "At a time of unparalleled media growth in this new digital age, the value of using media to bring people together for reflection and debate has never been clearer."

Community Cinema presents preview screenings of nine "Independent Lens" episodes, one screening per month from September through May. Each screening is followed by a lively panel discussion or other presentation that showcases local community organizations, resources and opportunities to get involved. Screenings take place about one month prior to the national television broadcast of each film on PBS.

"Community Cinema screenings are an excellent way for public television to reach into the local community and provide real opportunities to go beyond just watching," added Fifer. "We bring context and real access to resources and information on important social issues affecting our country today. This is what makes public television different."

Last year Community Cinema produced more than 400 events welcoming more than 30,000 people in 45 cities. This season, more than 500 events are planned in key cultural and civic spaces, a result of the overwhelming response to the program nationwide. Community Cinema expects to welcome more than 40,000 people to events, in collaboration with more than 1,000 community organizations -- some national, most local.

Community Cinema's fourth season will launch nationwide in September with Brett Morgen's acclaimed film "CHICAGO 10." Combining bold original animation with extraordinary archival footage, "CHICAGO 10" explores the buildup to and unraveling of the 1969 Chicago Conspiracy Trial, where history played out as both tragedy and farce. "CHICAGO 10" will have its broadcast premiere on Wednesday, October 22, at 9 PM as the season opener of "Independent Lens."

Other films included in the Community Cinema screening series include:

"LIONESS," by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers -- An intimate look at war through the eyes of women and the U.S. military policy that bans them from combat.

"I.O.U.S.A.," by Patrick Creadon and Christine O'Malley -- An examination of the growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens.

"HELVETICA," by Gary Hustwit -- A film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture that records a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

"TULIA, TEXAS," by Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen -- The story of a small town's search for justice and the price Americans pay for the nation's war on drugs.

"ARUSI PERSIAN WEDDING," by Marjan Tehrani -- A chronicle of the return to Iran of the Iranian American filmmaker's brother as he travels with his American wife to have a traditional Persian wedding and explore his lost heritage.

"TAKING ROOT," by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater -- The dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement.

"MADE IN AMERICA," by Stacy Peralta -- Grimly examines the causes and nature of Los Angeles's epidemic gang violence, laying out a history while talking directly to former and current members of the Crips and the Bloods.

"ASK NOT," by Johnny Symons -- A rare and compelling exploration of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

For a complete lineup of the Community Cinema series, visit

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