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WETA Celebrates Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month with WETA, as we bring you a wide variety of unique television programs during the month February. So join us as we retrace history from musicians to civil rights figures to sports icons who helped shape culture.

 
 
MUSIC AND CULTURE
 
The “Black Dragon” 

Ron Van Clief, an African-American kungfu martial artist, starred in more than 40 kungfu films.  His discipline, technique, and resulting success earned Van Clief the nickname “Black Dragon” from Bruce Lee.  Discover Van Clief’s and other African-American men’s challenge to overcome the kungfu status quo as they mastered the ancient martial art and created a resonation in black communities across the United States.    

 
The Bravado Man 

Cab Calloway had the moves, the voice, and the charm to forge new ground for African-American jazz musicians.  Explore the life of this pioneering jazz legend who led one of the most popular African-American big bands during the jazz and swing eras of the 1930s-40s.  Best known for his signature song “Minnie the Moocher” and for his role in The Blues Brothers (1980), countless performers and audiences look up to Calloway’s talent and showmanship.   

 
 
An Indelible Mark 

Entrepreneur, songwriter, record and movie producer and director: Berry Gordy.  Gordy has left a permanent mark on music and films in the U.S. and beyond.  Gordy is the founder of Motown Records, the most successful African-American-owned enterprise in the nation.  Join WETA’s Gwen Ifill as she interviews the widely celebrated Gordy.     

 
 
Miss Maestro 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) is considered the “godmother” of rock ’n’ roll.  During the 1940s-60s, Sister Tharpe introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into rock ’n’ roll’s secular world.  A flamboyant superstar and electric guitarist, Sister Tharpe was a major influence on musicians such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash.  Rock out with Sister Tharpe as American Masters explores the life, music, and influence of this African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso.     
 
Charged for Change 
Between 1967 and 1975, America’s black communities experienced an era of convulsive change.  Through candid 16mm footage and contemporary audio interviews with leading African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, experience a cinematic and musical journey exploring the people, society, culture and style that led to the black communities’ transformation during this fiery time period.      
 
The One and Only… 
Join Gwen Ifill and Smokey Robinson himself for an insider’s look at the life and career of this Motown legend.  Taped in 2009 before a theater audience at Northwestern University’s Thorne Auditorium, this program features former Motown executive and film producer Suzanna de Passe as mistress of ceremonies and musical tributes from Grammy-nominated artists such as Teena Marie, Howard Hewett, and Musiq Soulchild.  
 
A New American Sound 
Before Otis Redding, before Motown, before Aretha Franklin became the Queen of Soul, Sam Cooke put the spirit of the black church into popular music.  The first African-American artist to reach #1 on both the pop charts and R&B, Cooke forever altered popular music’s course and race relations in America.  American Masters explores Cooke’s life and music and how he came about to creating a new American sound.   
 
Unique Perspective
In Latin America and the Caribbean, millions of people of African descent have had an extensive impact on the countries’ history and culture; however, their contributions have been largely unknown.  In this 4-part series, join Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as he unravels the African influence on society in six Latin American countries.
Part 1 of 4  Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided 
Saturday, February 9 at 3:30am
Explore how race has been socially constructed in the Dominican Republic, a society whose people reflect centuries of intermarriage.  Then, learn about the birth of the first-ever black republic, Haiti, and how the slaves’ hard-fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.      
Part 2 of 4  Cuba: The Next Revolution
Sunday, February 10 at 4:30pm
Discover how Cuba’s culture, religion, politics, and music are inextricably linked to the massive amount of slave labor imported to produce the country’s enormously profitable 19th-century sugar industry.  Also, examine how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.  
Part 3 of 4  Brazil: A Racial Paradise?
Sunday, February 17 at 4:00pm
Unmask the façade of Carnival to discover how this “rainbow nation” is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.  
Part 4 of 4  Mexico & Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closest 
Sunday, February 24 at 4:00pm
Investigate the history of Mexico’s and Peru’s black population-the two countries that received far more slaves than did the U.S.-and discover the worlds of culture that the slaves’ descendants have created.    
 
 
CIVIL RIGHTS
 
Unafraid to Speak 
Daisy Bates, an African-American feminist, surpassed the odds during a time of extreme turbulence and conflict.  In 1957, Bates expressed her public support for nine black students to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Join Independent Lens as they tell Bates’ story of her bold steps that simultaneously sparked fame and hate.  
 
Like a Soldier
From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives to travel together on buses and trains through the Deep South in a challenge to segregation.  Purposely violating the Jim Crow laws, these brave men and women became known as the “Freedom Riders” as they endured savage beatings, imprisonment, and bitter racism that tested their belief in nonviolent activism.  
 
 
A Common Misconception 
Explore an entirely new history in Slavery by Another Name, a 2012 Sundance Film Festival selection based on the Wall Street Journal’s senior writer Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book.  This documentary confronts one of Americans’ most relished assumptions that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery; instead, the post-Emancipation-era labor practices and laws pulled thousands of African Americans in both the North and South back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality.  Hear the voices of the forgotten victims, executers of forced labor, and the descendants living today in this riveting documentary.  
 
 
Turbulent Forces 
Seething and tumultuous powers in American society instigated one of the most tragic encounters in American history.  Discover the wildly disparate, yet fatefully entwined stories of an assassin, James Earl Ray, and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King JR., and their violent, tragic collision in Memphis Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.  
 
Determined for Liberty
The 19th-century clandestine Underground Railroad was run by extraordinary people who helped fugitive slaves escape forced labor.  William Still was one of the many heroic individuals that put his life at risk for the freedom of another’s.  A free black man residing in Philadelphia, William Still accepted delivery of transported crates containing “human cargo.”  Journey into the stories behind this humanitarian enterprise and explore key Canadian connections, including the surprising fate of former slaves who crossed the border to “Freedom’s Land.”  
 
The Inside Man 
Whitney M. Young, Jr. is one of the least known yet most influential black civil rights leaders.  Following his journey from segregated Kentucky to head of the National Urban League, Young fought for civil rights from within.  Young took the fight directly to the most powerful white elites ranging from Wall Street, to Fortune 500 companies, to presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson.  Follow Young’s unique story and perspective on the most pivotal events of the civil rights era, such as the March on Washington and Brown v. Board of Education, in The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights.
 
 

 

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Travel Around the World with WETA | WETA February Schedule

This wild Washington, DC weather can make anyone want to get out of town! Alas, dropping everything to ship off to the tropics for a week isn’t much of a reality. Instead, take a month-long vacation around the world with WETA because this February, we have a wide selection of television shows that will take you to some fantastic places without having to leave your couch. Read on for your travel itinerary!

Watch video previews of all these shows by reading the full article!

 

To the west of the Serengeti and Lake Victoria, beyond the misty mountains of the Rift Valley, lies the second largest river system on earth: the Congo. This vast arena - the size of Europe - is home to an array of wildlife richer and more varied than any other region of Africa and yet it is hardly known. Today, parts of the Congo still remain inhospitable and virtually inaccessible. In a television first, the Natural History Unit has been given unprecedented access to film in this region and you can experience it on WETA TV26 & WETA HD.
Friday February 1: The River That Swallows All Rivers
Friday February 8: Spirits of the Forest
Friday February 15: Footprints in the Forest

 

In Janesville, Wisconsin there has been economic upheaval after General Motors closed one of their factories, leaving 2,000 residents unemployed. To learn more about this film and watch a preview, visit our blog post Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night February 2.

 

Globe Trekker is a regular WETA series in which show hosts delve into the culture of both known and unknown locations in the world. Each episode is a window into a foreign scene and this month, we’re going to some exciting locations on WETA TV26 & WETA HD!
Sunday, February 3: Globe Trekker Special: Planet of the Apes
Sunday, February 17: Globe Trekker Food Hour: Brazil
Sunday, February 24: Panama & Columbia

 

As one of Britain's favorite attractions, Chatsworth draws more than one million visitors each year. This three-part series follows the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the Dowager Duchess, and the lively characters that make up the 700-person staff at Chatsworth House. The documentary camera crew was given unprecedented access to the 30,000 acre Peak District estate making this a unique television experience on WETA TV26 & WETA HD.

 

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Antiques Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Eric Silver visit beautiful Brookgreen Gardens to discuss early 20th-century female sculptors. Appraiser Debra Force discovers a Joseph Henry Sharp oil painting. Antiques Roadshow investigates a story about stolen art from South Carolina's Hobcaw Barony estate with appraiser Debra Force and a former FBI agent. Discoveries from Roadshow’s visit to Myrtle Beach include an 1860 letter signed by Abraham Lincoln, a gift of crystals from Marilyn Monroe and a 1850s South Carolina sword on WETA TV26 & WETA HD.

 

In 1957, eight scientists invented the microchip within the Silicon Valley. Now, 56 years later, the Valley is still a hub for brilliant scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs who have helped make this nation one of the most technologically advanced in the world. Join us for American Experience: Silicon Valley, as we travel back in time to relive the discoveries on WETA TV26 & WETA HD.

 

Be sure to tune in to WETA TV26 & WETA HD for the final and third part of the Nature special, Attenborough’s Life Stories: Our Fragile Planet. For more about this episode and the series, read our blog post and watch a video preview Attenborough on WETA | Wildlife Specials.
 
 
This is a lavish adaptation of James A. Michener's tale of the impact of New England missionaries on the native population of Hawaii in the nineteenth century. The film stars Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow. Bookmark the Programmer's Choice blog to learn more in our WETA Movie blog post for February 9! On WETA TV26 & WETA HD.
 
 
Satellite data is transformed into visual sequences that detail the interwoven forces that sustain life on Earth. In this two-hour NOVA special on WETA TV26 & WETA HD, learn how dust from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon and how a vast underwater "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents. Bookmark the Programmer's Choice blog to learn more about this series on February 12!
 
 
This is a biography of Charles Lindburgh on WETA TV26 & WETA HD covers his days of precarious mail runs in aviation's infancy through his design of a small transatlantic plane and the vicissitudes of its takeoff and epochal flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Bookmark the Programmer's Choice blog to learn more in our WETA Movie blog post for February 16!
 
 
Take a trip to the Earth’s oldest mountains. In this 4 part series we discover how the Appalachian Mountains were formed over millions of years and the life that came to exist around them on WETA TV26 & WETA HD. DVR this special series!
 
 
This Pioneers of Television episode goes back in time with the help of the stars who made Westerns the classic shows we still love today. Join us on WETA TV26 & WETA HD in this behind the scenes look at the visionary actors who made characters like Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett so famous. 
 
 
In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the disaster and NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, we take time to learn about the astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon who was prepared to travel as far as any human can go: outer space. On WETA TV26 & WETA HD.
 
 
Take a trip to the most densely populated areas of plant and see rare animal species on WETA TV26 & WETA HD. In this 3 part series, we journey through the jungles of the Canopyworld, the Underworld, and the Waterworld.
 
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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night February 2

Humans have the remarkable ability to overcome just about anything. This week on the WETA Saturday Night Movies, hear the stories of individuals who have overcome obstacles in their lives and remember the strength of the will to succeed. We kick off the night with two feature length Doc Martin movies beginning at 9:30pm and follow them up with three Independent Lens documentaries back-to-back at 12:30am. With something for everyone, join WETA TV26 and WETA HD this Saturday as we dig deeper into the workings of society.

Click here to watch video previews of these exciting movies!

 

Doc Martin: The MovieOvercoming Loss

Would you ever move from the DC area to a remote, small town in the blink of an eye? Well when Doctor Martin Bamford discovers his wife is having an affair, he throws caution to the wind and moves from London to the unknown fishing village of Port Isaac. Join him as he tries to adjust to the country life, while resuming his medical career in a tiny town. This movie is different from the Doc Martin television show, but still stars Martin Clunes. Sit back and enjoy this alternate take on the ever hilarious Doc Martin.

 

Watch Doc Martin: The Movie on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Saturday at 9:30pm

 

Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie Overcoming Stress

Doc Martin is in need of a holiday from Port Isaac and finds the perfect spot in a small plot of land called Tregruunt Farm. The problem is, another family is also interested in the property. What lengths will Doc Martin go though to ensure he gets it for himself? Let’s just say he takes some legendary measures. 

Watch Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Saturday at 11:00pm

 

Independent Lens: More Than a Month - Overcoming Boundaries 

February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to paying tribute to the history of African Americans. In this documentary, Shukree Hassan Tilghman feels that black history shouldn't just be remembered in one month, but should be a part of everyday American history. Determined, Tilghman goes on a month long campaign to end the Black History Month observance. Join us as we investigate the dynamics of this practice and why some people think it shouldn’t exist at all.

Watch Independent Lens: More Than a Month on  WETA TV26 & WETA HD  this Sunday at 12:30am

 

Independent Lens: As Goes Janesville - Overcoming Hardships

The economic depression of 2008 affected many industries and workers across America. This is the story of Janesville, Wisconsin, an auto town where 2,000 residents were left unemployed after General Motors closed its local plant. Many were able to find jobs at different factories or relocate, but some hope to bring new businesses into the town with tax benefits. Follow the actions the residents take locally and nationally to promote business and job growth for their town and state.

Watch Independent Lens: As Goes Janesville on WETA TV26 & WETA HD  Sunday at 1:30am

 

Independent Lens: The Woodmans - Overcoming with Art

This documentary unveils the lives of the Woodmans, a family of artists all working in different mediums. Betty and George married after realizing a common dedication to fine art and had two children who would also become artists. Their daughter Francesca discovered a passion for photography and moved to New York to peruse her career. Depression, tragedy, and emotions changed their artistic styles. Follow the highs and lows of this family that were held together by their love of art.

Watch Independent Lens: The Woodmans on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Sunday at 2:30am

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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 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.