Independent Lens

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Documentaries in October | Independent Films on WETA TV26

This October on WETA TV26 & HD, tune in every Monday night for fascinating independent films presented by POV and Independent Lens. Read about each film below and mark your calendars!

Monday October 6 at 10pm POV: The Act of Killing
This film explores a horrifying era in Indonesian history and provides a window into modern Indonesia, where corruption reigns. Not only is the 1965 murder of an estimated one million people honored as a patriotic act, but the killers remain in power. In a mind-bending twist, death-squad leaders dramatize their brutal deeds in the style of the American westerns, musicals and gangster movies they love — and play both themselves and their victims. As their heroic facade crumbles, they come to question what they've done. Watch the trailer here. Some images may be disturbing.

Monday October 13 at 10pm Independent Lens: Bully
An intimate, unflinching look at how bullying affects five kids and their families. Opening a window onto the pained lives of bullied kids, it documents the responses of adults to aggressive behaviors beyond “kids will be kids” clichés, capturing a growing movement to change how bullying is handled in schools, communities, and society. Watch the trailer here.

Monday October 20 at 11pm Independent Lens: Twin Sisters
The poignant story of two girls from China adopted as infants by two separate sets of parents — one from California, the other from a remote fishing village in Norway — who grow up knowing they have a twin living on the other side of the world. Despite being on different paths, the magical bond between them grows deeper. Watch the trailer here.

Monday October 27 at 11pm Independent Lens: Brakeless
What led the driver of a Japanese commuter train to accelerate perilously, causing a deadly crash? Piecing together personal accounts of those affected by the tragedy, Brakeless poses a question for a society that equates speed with progress: have what were once national virtues — punctuality and compliance — become dangerous? Watch the trailer here.


 

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WETA Movie Night: September 6

Watch WETA TV26 & HD this Saturday, September 6 for a classic feature film and two Independent Lens documentaries related to Hispanic Heritage Month.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967) airs Saturday at 9:30pm
This is a romanticized account of the notoriously violent bank robbing couple and their gang from the 1930s. Excited by Clyde Barrow's outlaw demeanor, Bonnie Parker joins him in a crime spree across multiple towns.  Soon the pair joins Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife Blanche in a bank robbery. Will they get away with the heist? How long can they pull off this lifestyle? This movie is packed with drama, action, adventure, and romance. Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Gene Hackman. This film won the 1968 Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Estelle Parsons and Best Cinematography: Burnett Guffey. Also watch Sunday at 11:30am!

Independent Lens: Las Marthas airs Saturday at 11:30pm
In the lingering aftermath of the U.S.-Mexican War, the border town of Laredo, Texas created an annual debutante ball unlike any other. Las Marthas follows two Mexican American girls carrying this gilded tradition on their shoulders during a time of economic uncertainty and tension over immigration.

Independent Lens: The State of Arizona airs Sunday 12:30am
The turbulent battle over illegal immigration in Arizona that came to a head with Senate Bill 1070 frames this riveting documentary tracking multiple perspectives — activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ranchers, and others — as America eyes the results.

 


 

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New Doc Martin Season 6 | Documentaries on WETA TV26

Saturday February 1, 2014 tune into WETA TV26 & HD for the premiere of Doc Martin season 6 and two documentaries!

Doc Martin “Sickness and Health” 9:30-10:18pm
There is plenty of amusing excitement brewing in Portwenn! You will not want to miss a second of the new season of Doc Martin! The acclaimed series enters its 6th season, following the misfortunes and mishaps of Dr. Martin Ellingham, a smart yet socially challenged physician whose defining quality is his ability to alienate nearly anyone in his residing town of Portwenn. In the season 6 premiere, “Sickness and Health,” Portwenn is lively with Doc and his long time lover Louisa’s wedding on the horizon. Will they finally tie the knot, or will the villagers have to put the confetti back in the box again? Watch a preview!

Doc Martin "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" 10:18pm-11pm
Following the season premiere, stick around and enjoy another episode of your favorite doctor! Witness the fallout from the events of the season’s first episode in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In this praiseworthy continuation, Martin and Louisa host a disastrous dinner party, leading to a whirlwind of chaos that finally comes to a screeching halt when the new nanny walks out.

After Doc Martin, stick around for two gripping Independent Lens productions!

Independent Lens: The State of Arizona at 11pm

In 2010, the Arizona Senate passed controversial immigration law SB1070, also known as the “papers please” law, sparking a national dilemma. Supporters viewed it as a necessary act of law enforcement while opponents argued the law would inevitably lead to racial profiling. Now, Independent Lens: The State of Arizona explores the stories of Arizonans residing on all sides of this conflict-ridden topic and paints a vivid picture of a state and its citizens testing the boundaries of their country’s democratic principles. This enlightening documentary features interviews with activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, and ranchers mixed with footage of impassioned protest rallies and television news broadcasts. Now, Arizona’s enforcement policy is reshaping the conversation surrounding immigration reform in the United States. With a multitude of other states contemplating a similar approach, The State of Arizona asks Americans to reflect on who they are, who they want to be, and in which direction they want to take their country. Watch a preview!

Independent Lens: The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights at 12:30am

Whitney Young, Jr. does not have a national holiday bearing his name. There are few alive today who know his name, and those who do know of the man, know much less his accomplishments. Now, discover the true story of the inside man who flattened the barriers restricting African Americans and became a key player at the core of the civil rights movement. The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights explores the uniqueness of one of the most significant black leaders in history. Through his valuable positions as a successful businessperson, government worker, and advisor to three different presidents, Young opened the doors of opportunity for African Americans from the inside. This powerful documentary follows the unsung hero as he balances his time between Harlem streets and prestigious company boardrooms, working towards historical social change. Experience the critical events of the civil rights era through the eyes of a man working within the institution, but outside the limelight, to ensure a future of equality. Watch a preview!
 

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50th Anniversary of the March on Washington | WETA TV26 & HD Specials

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington with WETA! Tune into WETA TV26 & HD this week for three compelling documentaries about the time period surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and the influential people involved in it. Also tune in for a special In Performance at the White House celebrating the music that shaped that era. While watching WETA TV26 & HD be sure to look for these great WETA interviews produced specially for this iconic anniversary.

Rep. John Lewis Recalls His Speech at March on Washington
Rep. John Lewis Remembers the March on Washington
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton Reflects on the Marchon the March

Independent Lens: The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights - Airs Monday, August 26 at 10:00pm
One of the lesser-known heroes of the Civil Rights Movement is a man named Whitney Young. Young held a unique position of power because he was influential to white executives and three different presidents, allowing him to help the movement through his dealings. On Independent Lens, learn more about Young and how this unsung hero worked outside of the limelight to secure an equal future. Watch a preview!

In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement - Airs Tuesday, August 27 at 8:00pm
The Civil Rights Movement produced a lot of music that remains influential and celebrated today. A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement, filmed in the White House, features performances by some of the original musicians, covers of songs by newer artists, and readings of the original speeches from the movement. The entire event is hosted by President Obama and the First Lady. Watch a preview!

The March - Airs Tuesday, August 27 at 9:00pm & Friday, August 30 at 10:30pm
50 years after the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech is still remembered as one of the most important moments in the Civil Rights Movement. This new PBS program titled, The March, interviews participants and journalists who covered the event. Stunning archival footage accompanies touching and inspiring interviews that will give you a brand new perspective on the heroes of the March on Washington. Watch a preview!

American Experience: Freedom Riders - Airs Tuesday, August 27 at 10:00pm

In 1961, against countless threats and violence, hundreds of people fought against the segregation of race on public buses. As African-Americans rallied together to defy being told which buses they were allowed on and where they had to sit, they endured hardship and pain to provide freedom for future generations. On American Experience: Freedom Riders, witness the brave journey of these men and women who helped secure a better future. Watch a preview!


 

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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movies June 29

Our distinctive personal identities are what make us different from the people around us. Though we may look the same or sound the same, it is important to look beyond the surface to get to the core of each individual’s identity. This Saturday, we’re bringing you two free movies dealing with discovering true identities. Tune in at 9:30 and again at 11:30 and enjoy a commercial free WETA movie night.

At 9:30pm, Bette Davis and Karl Malden star in the classic thriller Dead Ringer. Davis plays long estranged twin sisters Margaret and Edith who have not spoken since Margaret married Frank Da Lorca who Edith was seeing at the time. Eighteen years later, after the two are reunited at Frank’s funeral, Edith is reminded of Margaret’s cruel and deceptive nature. In a fit of rage, she kills Margaret and assumes her identity, staging the scene to look as if Edith herself has committed suicide. While her plan initially seems foolproof, Edith soon realizes her sister was guilty of more than just petty dishonesty. Now, she faces suspicion from Margaret’s lover Tony and Edith’s own boyfriend Jim (Malden). Will Edith be able to escape her own web of lies or is she in too deep? Watch the trailer here!

Watch Dead Ringer (1964) Saturday June 29 at 9:30pm on WETA TV26 & HD.

Cultural identities can bind communities and provide important information on personal histories. How do you maintain a cultural identity when time seems to have erased yours? We Still Live Here-Âs Nutayuneân tells the story of a Massachusetts Native American tribe who did the impossible. It was the Wampanoag tribe who taught the Pilgrims to fish and cultivate when they arrived in New England. As the Pilgrims expanded their territorial and cultural boundaries, the Wampanoag language slowly disappeared with each passing generation. Nearly four hundred years after the first contact between their ancestors and European settlers, the modern day Wampanoag people embarked on a mission to revive their native language. Through community efforts and determination, a new generation of fluent Wampanoag speakers came to life. Tune in at 11:30 to watch this inspirational journey. Watch the trailer here!

Watch Independent Lens: We Still Live Here-Âs Nutayuneân Saturday June 29 at 11:30pm on WETA TV26 & HD.

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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night December 22

Every Saturday night, WETA presents a movie festival of exciting and commercial-free movies for your enjoyment in the Washington, DC area. These compelling films begin at 9:30pm on Saturday, December 22 so read on and see what's on this week!

Change

Change is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes we seek it, but often we’re reluctant to change. This week, see distinct examples of change in our WETA Movies.

 

Change of Heart

Andy Griffith stars as a naïve but good-intentioned soldier who has managed to avoid the draft for quite some time. When the head of the draft board unexpectedly arrives at his home, Will Stockdale is persuaded to join the ranks of other American men and serve his country. He immediately finds a friend and confidante in Ben Whitledge a man who is passionate about following in the footsteps of his six brothers who have all served as infantrymen. Master Sergeant King is in charge and has an agenda that includes sabotaging Stockdale but as the plan unfolds; he must pay the consequences for his actions. Roles swap, friendships end and rekindle, and Will and Ben find themselves in a precarious situation which leads to a surprise ending.

Watch No Time for Sergeants Saturday, December 22 at 9:30pm on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

 

Fighting for Change

It seems that today’s society accommodates the disabled with the various handicap accessible options like ramps, elevators, and reserved parking spots. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for those living with a disability. Americans with disabilities had to fight for the respect, acceptance, and basic rights as the non-disabled.

Independent Lens: Lives Worth Living tells the story of the handicap movement following World War II, when disabled Americans were denied basic human rights and treated as inferior. Fed up, disabled Americans banded together (some literally chaining their wheelchairs together in protest) with a common cause. Seeking to defeat the notion that the disabled had no will or reason to live, they proved that they had the same goals and dreams as the non-disabled and that they could accomplish almost anything if only given the same opportunities and rights. Thanks to their efforts, The Americans with Disabilities Act was created, signed and implemented. However, the battle for inclusion and equality was, and still is, far from over for Americans with disabilities. Be inspired by the resilience and unwavering determination of one of the largest minorities’ fight for equality. 

Watch Independent Lens: Lives Worth Living Saturday, December 22 at 11:30pm on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

Watch a preview of Lives Worth Living here!

 

Historical Change

Boyz n the Hood and Casablanca have a lot in common, believe it or not. Since the time of their release, both movies have been wildly popular. They've both been nominated for and won countless awards. Most impressively, the films are among a carefully chosen list comprising The National Film Registry. The Library of Congress is employed with the task of choosing those films which exemplify and fulfill being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. No genre is excluded, but making the cut is no easy feat since only 25 films are selected each year.

Independent Lens: These Amazing Shadows sheds light on the little-known world of The National Film Registry. Through interviews and film clips, learn the history of how and why The National Film Registry came to be, and identify with the impact of the notable films which comprise the Registry. The diversity of the films is wide, yet the films all reflect a slice of American culture, ideas and history. Thus, preserving them is integral and allows for future generations of audiences to experience the same emotions, connections and stories.

Watch Independent Lens: These Amazing Shadows Sunday, December 23 at 12:30am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

Watch a trailer of These Amazing Shadows here!

 

Change in America

Lawrence, Massachusetts has earned the nickname “Immigrant City”. It was founded by Irish immigrants fleeing the Great Potato Famine followed by waves of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Canada. As one of the poorest municipalities in the United States, it is still a welcoming place for newcomers including new immigrants mostly from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Independent Lens: Scenes From a Parish takes a look at issues of community, tolerance, and immigration from the perspective of a Catholic priest who is trying to hold his disparate congregation together. Meet the people that make up this town and learn that their idea of home and belonging is deeper than a simple matter of ethnicity.

Watch Independent Lens: Scenes From a Parish Sunday, December 23 at 1:30am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

Learn more about the making of Scenes From a Parish from Director/producer James Rutenbeck here!

 

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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night December 15

Looking for free, compelling, exciting, and commercial-free movies in DC, MD, and VA this weekend? WETA brings great feature films and documentaries right into your home every Saturday beginning at 9:30pm! This weekend, a 1960s drama-dy and three contemporary documentaries divulge into the many facets of friendship. We’ll discover that no friendship is alike and a “friend” can take on all types, forms, and meanings. Be sure to tune into WETA TV26 and WETA HD every Saturday night for movies galore! 

 

Opposites Attract: Soldier in the Rain (1963)

The most unlikely pairs are proof that opposites attract. Master Sergeant Maxwell Slaughter forms an unlikely friendship with Sergeant Eustis Clay and neither status, nor rank, nor intellectual capacity prevents the two from building an admirable and loyal friendship. Eustis eagerly awaits the end of his stint in the military and his inexhaustible attempts at convincing Slaughter of the perks of civilian life provide opportunities for comedic adventures and antics. As in any good friendship, each provides meaning and importance in the other’s life. But friendships are not without their flaws and their hurdles, and the friendship which forms in Soldier in the Rain is put to the test. What Slaughter and Eustis learn and take away from each other becomes life-changing.

Watch Soldier in the Rain (1963) Saturday, December 15 at 9:30pm on WETA TV26 and WETA HD. Repeats Sunday at 11:30am.

 

Through Thick & Thin: Garbage Dreams (2009)

In Cairo, recycling is a bit more complex than the American standard of sorting plastic, metal, paper, and glass from trash. In fact, recycling garbage is the Zaballeen’s (translating to “garbage people”) livelihood. The Zaballeen make their living collecting and recycling eighty percent of the garbage which accumulates in Cairo. For years, the city had no sanitation service and depended on the Zaballeen. And for the Zaballeen, trash is all they know. But in recent years, the city has turned from tradition and begun to rely on private companies to collect trash with garbage trucks. With machines replacing men, the shift in tradition comes as detrimental and dangerous to the Zaballeen’s future. How will they make a living? How will they survive?

Independent Lens: Garbage Dreams tells the stories of three teenagers experiencing the life-altering transition directly. Adham, Osama and Nabil, all born into the business of trash, must confront the possibility of losing the security their people have had for decades. But, when one door closes another one opens, and maybe Cairo’s stab at modernization is a blessing in disguise for these three young men to pursue new and exciting opportunities.

The United States recycles 30 percent of its waste. Impressive? Not in comparison to the 80 percent recycled by the Zaballeen. How eco-friendly are you? Test your ability by playing the Garbage Dreams online game!

Watch Garbage Dreams (2009) Saturday, December 15 at 11:00pm on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

 

In Sickness & In Health: We Were Here (2011)

San Francisco is a melting pot for people from different walks of life but they all seek the same things: happiness, freedom and acceptance. For a large population of gay men, San Francisco proves to be a source of solace and a place they are happy to call home. In the 1980s, the city was also the site of what was, to some, believed to be the “gay cancer”, plaguing the gay community and swiftly. Time would soon tell that the mysterious disease was the AIDS virus. At the brink of its arrival, San Francisco’s response to the epidemic showed compassion and empathy, but most significant was the vastly different actions taken by other cities. Subsequently, “The San Francisco Model” became the ideal for creating a healthier and humane society in a world now struggling with AIDS.

Independent Lens: We Were Here tells the inspiring and poignant stories of five individuals who lived in San Francisco prior to the epidemic and were all effected in one way or another by the devastation, loss of life, compassion of strangers, and kindness of humanity that accompanied it. The firsthand stories of these ordinary people who experienced the change and assumed roles as activists and caregivers, friends or lovers to victims of AIDS, and living testimonies of those who suffer from the virus comprise We Were Here.

Check out an educational and informative timeline tracing the history of AIDS.

Watch We Were Here (2011) Sunday, December 16 at 12:00am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

 

Man's Best Friend: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003)

St. Francis of Assisi made it his life’s work to care for animals. His compassion for all creatures is admired and praised long after his death. Animal shelters and advocates recognize the importance of animals and family pets are common in modern day society. Whether consciously or not, one man has followed suit of St. Francis of Assisi and dedicates his days to feeding, caring for and protecting the wild parrots of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. He is known as the “Bohemian St. Francis”. Former homeless musician Mark Bittner was on a search for his life’s purpose, and the parrots he affectionately, and rather impressively, recognizes by name just happened to collide with the timing of his search, and help him in ways one wouldn’t think a bird could. 

Not your typical nature or wildlife documentary, Independent Lens: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill puts the spotlight on parrots but more significantly on relationships between animals and people, and finding meaning in life.

Watch The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003) Sunday, December 16 at 1:30am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

Watch a preview of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill here!

You may not be able to tell “Patrick” the parrot from “Sophie” like Mark Bittner, but learn more about the wild parrots and their background, and explore a photo gallery of the birds.

 

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Free Movies in DC: WETA Fall Movie Festival November 17

Every Saturday, WETA hosts the Fall Movie Festival where we compile exciting and commercial-free movies for you to enjoy in your Washington, DC area home. Watch these compelling films this Saturday, November 17!

Truth

George Washington said, “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.” With the revelation of truth comes serenity and peace. Experience catharsis and multiple sighs of relief as the truth is revealed in three films this Saturday night!

The Truth Will Win Out

When Vincent Parry’s wife is suddenly killed, Parry is promptly convicted of murder. He must exert all of his energies toward clearing his name, without allowing his morning to distract him  Vincent escapes prison and subsequently encounters multiple barriers, but repeatedly manages to evade capture (despite being highly wanted). When Vincent meets Irene, the beautiful woman takes the supposed killer under her wing. Irene developed an unwavering passion in seeking justice for the wrongly convicted when, years earlier, her father was convicted of murder. Dark Passage is a thriller following Vincent’s pursuit for freedom, righteousness, and a clear name. In his tireless attempts for clarity, what extreme measures will Vincent take and will he succeed in tracking down his wife’s killer? To complicate matters, the killer might be right under his nose...

Watch The WETA Movie: Dark Passage Saturday, November 17 at 9:30pm on WETA TV 26 and WETA HD.

 

Dying Men Speak True…

Dark Victory stars Bette Davis as Judith, the young New York socialite with hobbies suitable for her class: smoking, drinking, horses, and fast cars. A horse-riding accident leaves Judith with some uncomfortable after-effects, and only at the urging of her friend Ann does she seek a doctor’s counsel.  Testing reveals life-altering results: Judith has incurable cancer. She will soon become blind, and death will inevitably follow. However, Judith neglects to say her “adieus” …because her failing health is kept a secret! Why does Dr. Steele keep his lips sealed and will the truth set itself free before it’s too late?  Dark Victory is a tale of love, deceit, and coping.

Watch Dark Victory Saturday, November 17 at 11:20pm on WETA TV and WETA HD.

 

The Truth Right In Front Of Us

Block parties take place in neighborhoods across America every summer. After all, everyone on the street can relate to each other: happy children, full-time jobs, family dinners, weekends spent at the dog park or soccer field. But New York City’s Park Avenue set follows different rules, depending on which half you live. The mega-rich reside on Park Avenue’s Upper East Side—the wealthiest neighborhood in all of New York City. Take a leisurely stroll ten minutes up the block to the South Bronx, however, and the neighborhood sights, sounds, and smells will leave you wondering how only ten minutes mean the difference between luxury and lower income.

Independent Lens brings you Park Avenue: Money, Power & The American Dream, a shocking exploration of the extreme disparity in quality of life along one avenue. On one side live billionaires while. on the other side. forty percent of residents live in poverty. Park Avenue in the South Bronx is America’s poorest congressional district, plaqued by unemployment, crime, and failing schools. Yet these residents can literally see the “other side”, the so-called “better side”, from their windows. So close physically, with dreams of putting truth to the The Jefferson’s theme song lyrics, “moving on up to the East Side”.

But actually making the move to the other side is not as simple as America naively preaches. Sometimes achieving the American Dream demands more than hard work, determination, and a hearty dose of “American spirit”. Park Avenue: Money, Power & The American Dream looks at the invisible barricade that divides rich from poor and powerful from oppressed on both sides of Park Avenue.

Watch Independent Lens Park Avenue: Money, Power & The American Dream Saturday, November 17 at 1:00am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

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Free Movies in DC: WETA Fall Movie Festival November 10

 

Watch free movies without commercials on your TV this Saturday. Get a load of our jam packed Fall Movie Festival November 10, a feature film and FOUR documentaries on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

The Art of Risk-Taking

Jumping out of an airplane, sampling frog’s legs, or buying a lottery ticket all mean incurring some risk.  A skydiver discovering mid-air that his parachute is defective may be a rare situation, but suffering a minor allergic reaction to an exotic food happens more often. In life, we’re faced with both itty-bitty risks and all-or-nothing risks. This Saturday night, don’t do anything dicey. Stay in the comfort and safety of your own home and live vicariously through risk taker after risk taker in a line-up of movies on WETA TV26 and HD that make you hold your breath—without taking any real risks.

 

Love’s Risk

You never know who you’ll meet on the bus. Fate strikes when two bus riders’ lives coincidentally intertwine, proving that every personal encounter has a purpose. When the recently returned World War II veteran Paul strikes up a conversation with Victoria, he learns that she is pregnant out of wedlock and terrified that her traditionalist Mexican father will kill her upon her homecoming from graduate school. So Paul offers to play the role of Victoria’s husband and Victoria accepts. Victoria’s family believes the couple’s announcement but the new son-in-law’s social standing infuriates Victoria’s father. The initial plan takes an unexpected turn when the family invites Paul to stay on the vineyard and assist with the annual grape harvest. The events that follow will convince you of the magic of fate. With family tradition, love, and hate all conflicting, you have the perfect elements to start off a Saturday night movie festival! 

Watch A Walk in the Clouds (1995) Saturday November 10 at 9:30pm on WETA TV26 or WETA HD.

 

Risk for Reward

Though the classroom’s filled with women from a colorful assortment of countries, their similarities outweigh their differences. Many stopped attending school at age ten, either because of the taboo of female education or because work took priority. All of the students have families back home, and all are mothers or grandmothers--a class requirement. Most of the students have never before left their village, let alone their country. Many are also illiterate. These 27 disenfranchised women hail from four continents and make up a class of competitively selected candidates whose training at The Barefoot College in India will empower them to become solar engineers. Yes, solar engineers. In six months time, these women will return home with the ability, confidence, and skill to bring solar electricity to their villages. Learn more about the making of Solar Mamas from producer Mette Heide in this Independent Lens online exclusive! 

Solar Mamas follows the journey of one particular Barefoot College class, shedding light (no pun intended) on the natural energy crisis and the challenges rural women face worldwide.

Watch Independent Lens: Solar Mamas Saturday, November 10 at 11:15pm on WETA TV26 or WETA HD.

 

Risking Life and Limb

The prospect of $20,000 and college tuition assistance in exchange for serving in the Michigan National Guard just one weekend a month seemed too good to pass up for a group of nine long-time friends who were fresh out of high school in rural Michigan. And it was…as most things that seem too good to be true usually are. Soon, they would all be deployed on a tour to Afghanistan, where they would search for roadside bombs with their explosives unit. After nine  fearfull and uncertain months, nothing could prepare the once carefree “boys” for the obstacles they would endure upon returning home.

Where Soldiers Come From follows the lives of three of these men over the course of four years, from their basic training, to their deployment, and ultimately, to their tumultuous return home. The film illustrates the transformation of these happy-go-lucky teenagers into hardened and emotionally-scarred men. The film also paints a poignant portrait of the far-reaching effects of a far-away war, while touching upon politics, class, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Check out this powerful map of Veterans in the United States from POV Where Soldiers Come From

Watch POV: Where Soldiers Come From Saturday, November 10 at 12:30am on WETA TV26 or WETA HD.

 

Risk on the Behalf of Others

On-call at all hours of the day and night, they rush to their “office” when the familiar phone call comes. A price could never be put on the free and generous service they provide with their smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement for men and women in uniform. At Bangor International Airport in Maine, a pack of senior citizens has made history by greeting and seeing off nearly one million American troops who are on their way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Way We Get By tells a moving story about growing old, finding purpose, and living life to the fullest. The film looks at three of the senior volunteers, as they deal with the inevitable effects of aging and find their reason to continue living. One volunteer must cope with a cancer diagnosis, while another must cope with the deployments of beloved family members. Meanwhile, one volunteer explains the group’s goal very succinctly: “Make a soldier smile before he goes over.” The parallels between the gray-haired volunteers and soldiers passing through the plane terminal reveal the film’s central message: It is through service to others we find our purpose. Watch or read this POV interview with The Way We Get By filmmaker Aron Gaudet. 

Watch POV: The Way We Get By on Saturday, November 10 at 2:00am on WETA TV26 or WETA HD.

 

Risking it all for a Dream

“We miss the shot, we get shot.”

For wildly successful filmmakers László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond, such a statement was not far from the truth in their native Hungary. Maybe it was luck and their innate talent that led to their success in the film industry, or maybe it was the day-to-day struggle of surviving in Hungary’s hostile environment that taught them to fight. Whatever the case, that success certainly did not mushroom overnight. No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos honors the pair, all the while telling their story from struggle to triumph.

László and Vilmos quickly became friends back in film school, but little did they know that their friendship would thrive for decades to come and withstand as much as it did. During the Hungarian Revolution, the two fled for America, camera and film in tow. Remarkably, they managed to avoid ever getting caught and filmed many of the horrific scenes involved in their escape. Finding work was no easy feat, and for ten years they admirably kept their dreams alive by working on low-budget films. Their “big breaks” came in due time, and once Hollywood recognized their talent as Directors of Photography, America swooned. Thanks to their grit and persistence, László and Vilmos have changed Hollywood’s standards for cinematography. Check out this No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos behind the scenes content from Independent Lens and director / producer James Chressanthis!

Watch Independent Lens: No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos on Saturday, November 19 at 3:30am on WETA TV26 or WETA HD.

 

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Free Movies in DC: WETA Fall Movie Festival November 3

Every Saturday, WETA hosts the Fall Movie Festival where we compile exciting, free, and commercial-free movies for you to enjoy in your Maryland, Virginia, and DC homes. Watch these compelling films and documentaries this Saturday November 3!

 

Action

When words fail, actions speak…and in many cases, the latter can be more attention-grabbing and successful than any combination of words, even from the most eloquent of mouths. Sometimes action is unexpected and though we are not prepared for it, our instincts kick in and we handle each situation accordingly. Other times, it knocks us down repeatedly and we must try again and again, never giving up. Action usually works and though it’s risky, when it pays off we cannot help but to revel in the chance we took.  This Saturday night on WETA TV26 and HD, see firsthand examples of taking action in a perfect blend of films. 

 

Taking physical action

Sometimes we feel stuck and an unexpected opportunity for action presents itself. This Saturday, Rocky, a struggling club boxer in Philadelphia supplements his passion and dream of becoming a big-time fighter by working as a debt collector. His talent is often doubted but former boxing trainer Mickey firmly believes Rocky could have succeeded had he worked harder. That knock at the invisible door arrives when the current world’s heavyweight boxing champion, Apollo Creed, proposes the idea of providing a small-time and unknown boxer with the shot at his envied and prestigious title. Upon scoping out Philadelphia’s boxers, Apollo selects Rocky.  Hopes, dreams, and words soon turn into hard work, sweat, blood, tears and action as Rocky prepares for the match of a lifetime. Watch Rocky (1976) Saturday November 3 at 9:30pm on WETA TV26 or WETA HD. 

Rocky will also air on WETA TV26 and WETA HD on Sunday November 4 at 11:30am.

 

Long-awaited action

Protecting the planet is a defining feature of the Native American culture. So it should come as no surprise that when faced with the environmentally-harmful consequences of a practice benefiting the pockets of wealthy corporations, Arizona Native American tribes directly affected swiftly took action. The story serving as the inspiration of Power Paths begins in the 1960s when two coal mines opened on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. The mines produced enough coal to supply the insatiable energy demands of Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles…but at a significant cost. Over the decades following the opening of the mines, the environment took a detrimental and irreversible hit as did local Native American tribes. The Southwestern skies were polluted, aquifers were drained, and sacred Native American land was scarred.  Not to mention, Native Americans living on the reservations had no running water and no access to basic electricity. The health of the Navajo nation’s people suffered also, and cases of cancers were common.  Independent Lens: Power Paths follows a tribal coalition’s modern day fight to alter their economies for the better by swapping coal mines and power plants with renewable energy technologies. Success in making the switch would preserve and protect their land, honor their culture, provide their reservation’s homes with basic electricity and create necessary jobs in their own community. Power Paths serves as an example of the entire planet’s current plight; finding alternatives to fossil fuels and going green. It may have taken decades but when action is finally taken, will it be all in vain or for the good of future generations? Watch Power Paths, November 3 at 11:30pm on WETA TV26 or WETA HD and see for yourself.

Watch a preview of Power Paths here!

 

Necessary action

They were sent to Iraq as cooks, clerks, and mechanics. Some were sent to provide supplies, and others logistical support, to the male troops. But when fighting unexpectedly broke out in the streets of Ramadi in April of 2004, those very women had no choice but to fight alongside their fellow soldiers. In fact, they were needed, and it did not seem to matter that they hadn't undergone combat training. After all, why would they be? The Department of Defense created a policy prohibiting women from ground combat. Despite this, since 2003, the United States military has been going against official policy and utilizing women in a variety of situations, from conducting house-to-house searches of Iraqis to fighting in some of the most violent and bloody battles to have taken place during the war.

Independent Lens: Lioness tells the story of five female U.S. Army soldiers who made history by becoming the first to be sent into direct combat. The group, members of “Team Lioness,” served one year together in Iraq. Told through personal accounts, journal excerpts, archival footage and interviews, Lioness reveals what the media time and again neglected to inform America of; that women are an integral and necessary part of the military in all facets. The women’s individual stories work in tandem to portray the effects of war from a female perspective. Watch Lioness Saturday November 3 at 12:30am on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

In this scene of Lioness, the women are gathered together after returning from deployment and watch a documentary about the very battle they fought in. Surprisingly, they are purposefully edited out of any shots.