Documentaries about the fight for pay equity and America’s first Black variety TV show will help anchor the winter lineup of Independent Lens
The Emmy Award-winning weekly series boasts several films that will make their broadcast debuts, including Jared Leto’s “A Day in the Life of America; Melissa Haizlip’s “Mr. SOUL!” and Shalini Kantayya’s “Coded Bias.” Many of these films, which will air on PBS between January and March, deal with issues of racial discrimination and gender bias.
“This Independent Lens lineup offers a stimulating and immersive slate of films that illuminate the powerful forces impacting our country today,” said Lois Vossen, executive producer of Independent Lens, in a statement. “From gender equality, to pay equity, to racial justice, there is an urgency, grace, and optimism to these documentaries and the topics they take on that is suited to the challenging times in which we live.”
“A Day in the Life of America,” premiering January 11, 2021 and directed by Leto, was shot over the course of a single day — July 4, 2017 — across all 50 states in America, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The film conveys the wide-ranging beliefs, experiences, and struggles of Americans from all walks of life, offering alternately beautiful and provocative glimpses into the diversity and differences throughout the country.
“Mr. SOUL!,” premiering on February 22, celebrates the groundbreaking PBS series, SOUL!, and its trailblazing producer and host Ellis Haizlip.
“Coded Bias,” premiering March 22, reveals racial bias that exists in artificial intelligence. The film follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini as she spearheads an investigation into widespread algorithmic tendencies, discovering discrimination against darker-skinned faces and the faces of women.
Other films premiering on PBS’s Independent Lens this winter include:
• “A Woman’s Work” (January 4) – Award-winning filmmaker Yu Gu pulls back the curtain on the inequity the cheerleaders of the National Football League face when investing time, money and commitment all while earning as little as $1.50 an hour. Gu follows Oakland Raiderette Lacy and Maria of the Buffalo Jills as these two women take a stand, denouncing the NFL’s unfair labor practices and calling out the hypocrisy of a male-dominated sports culture.
• “9to5: The Story of a Movement” (February 1) – Filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar, the Academy-Award winning duo behind “American Factory,” chronicle the story of a group of secretaries in Boston in the 1970s that fought to create impactful changes in their workplaces. This eventual nationwide movement encapsulates the intersection of the women’s movement with the labor movement.
• “Women in Blue” (February 8) – Prior to the death of George Floyd, filmmaker Deidre Fishel captured life inside the Minneapolis Police Department through the lens of its first female Chief, Janée Harteau, and a group of newly-recruited female officers who remain committed to the criminal justice system even after Harteau is forced to resign. With a city already on edge over police misconduct, the women of the MPD fight for gender equity as a key means to reducing police violence.
• ‘Til Kingdom Come (March 28) – Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein explores the controversial relationship between Evangelicals and Jews in a story of faith, power, and money. She reveals a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East.