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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movies May 11 - 12

This weekend on WETA, watch three movies right from your Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia home! Watch a blind love unravel into danger and fear with Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Suspicion. Then discover the struggle between love and infatuation in Independent Lens' Seeking Asian Female. And if you're still awake at midnight, watch POV's In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee as a Korean born woman delves into her past to find the person whose name she bears.

Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine deliver exuberant performances in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, Suspicion.  This film tells the story of Lina McLaidlaw, a wealthy young woman, who falls in love with Johnnie Aysgarth.  Swept off her feet by Johnnie’s charm, Lina disregard’s the disapproval of her father, General McLaidlaw, and soon runs away to get married.  Unaware of troubles that are just around the corner, Lina finds out that her new husband has no money, no job and has a gambling problem. Johnnie insists that this will all change, but as Lina soon finds out, not everyone can keep promises. Following a series of bizarre events, a mysterious murder, and bit of paranoia, Lina becomes convinced that Johnnie might be plotting to kill her and make haste with her inheritance.  Watch the trailer!
 
Tune in to WETA TV26 & HD Saturday at 9:30pm for Alfred Hitchcock’s, Suspicion.
 
 
For those of you who believe opposites attract, you’ll want to check out this documentary from Independent Lens.  Seeking Asian Female follows the lives of two people who fall in love and decide to get married after meeting on the internet.  Steven, a white American man from San Francisco, has always had a fascination with Chinese women.  After divorcing twice, the struggle for Steven to find the Asian woman of his dreams seems to be merely impossible until he meets Sandy.  Sandy, a determined 30 year old woman from China, immediately falls in love with Steven and flies out to San Francisco to marry him.  But marriage isn’t all fun and games as the cross-cultured couple soon find out.  Communicating through a translator, overcoming Steven’s obsession with Chinese women and adapting to life in a foreign country are just a few issues the couple must face in order to make their relationship work.  But are Steven and Sandy willing to take these drastic measures for true love?  Tune in to find out! Watch the trailer!
 
Independent Lens: Seeking Asian Female airs this Saturday at 11:00pm on WETA TV26 & HD.
 
 
In this unusual documentary, POV reveals the story of a Korean orphan who has her identity switched before she is taken in by an American family.  After coming to the United States in 1966 at eight years old, she was told to keep her false identity a secret and never reveal it to anyone.  Now, after more than 40 years, it is time to find the real Cha Jung Hee.  In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem sets out in hopes of helping this mistaken orphan find Cha Jung Hee.  But in a big territory like Korea, finding the woman whose life she has lived will not be an easy task. Watch the trailer!
 
Check out POV: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee this Sunday at 12:00am on WETA TV26 & HD.
 
 
 
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Makers: Women Who Make America | New Documentary

Known as one of the largest social movements in the history of the world, the Women’s Movement over the last half-century has been a movement for gender equality in the work place and home.  Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, and family commitment, women began a revolution which has deeply impacted American culture. Next week WETA presents Makers: Women Who Make America, a documentary that looks in-depth at the millions of women who have helped shape America over the past 50 years and how they continue to influence the world today. Click here to watch a preview of Makers: Women Who Make America!

Over the past 100 years the United States has been through many social revolutions, one of the most important being the Woman’s Movement. Makers.com, a digital platform created for women to share their stories of leadership and progress, has compiled many of those stories into the three hour show, Makers: Women Who Make America. Revisit monumental moments in women's history through archival footage and interviews from everyday women and celebrity figures such as Katie Couric, Billie Jean King, Oprah Winfrey, and Ellen DeGeneres. Join WETA Tuesday February 26 at 8:00pm as we celebrate woman seeking equality in both past and present America and discover that anyone can be apart of a revolution and change society. . 

Join us Tuesday February 26 at 8:00pm and again on Wednesday February 27 at 3:00pm as WETA Presents Makers: Women Who Make America.

 

 

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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night February 23

Determination

Sometimes, you just have to go with what feels right. This week’s WETA Saturday Night Movies on WETA TV26 & WETA HD celebrate people who knew they were right, even when everyone else was telling them they were wrong. We begin at 9:30pm with Top Hat, where Jerry Travers peruses a woman who isn’t interested because she thinks he’s someone else. But Jerry doesn’t give up that easily! Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is at 11:00pm, which takes a look at activists during the civil rights era who knew they were working for good, even when the media tried to misrepresent them.

Click here to watch video previews of these two films!

 

Top Hat (1935)

What would you do if your best friend’s spouse fell in love with you? Run away! Or in this case, dance in the opposite direction. Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) makes her distaste of Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) known after he wakes her one night with loud tap dancing from the room above her. In a case of mistaken identity, she believes him to be her friend’s husband and is put off even more by his romantic advances. After she travels to Italy, only to be perused by Jerry, the confusion escalates with a marriage proposal. Can these two figure out who they really are and become the perfect pair? If you missed it in January, find out this Saturday at 9:30pm.

Watch Top Hat on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Saturday at 9:30pm! Also airs Sunday at 11:30am.

 

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

After 16mm footage of the civil rights movement was discovered in the cellar of a Swedish broadcasting company, filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson decided to create a documentary about the Black Power movement from 1967 to 1975. Featuring interviews with prominent African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, as well as input from today's scholars and historians, this film shows a different perspective of the revolution commonly portrayed as a violent protest by United States media of the time. Join us as we continue to celebrate Black History Month through the eyes of Swedish filmmakers, this Saturday at 11:00pm.

Watch Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Saturday at 11:00pm.

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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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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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Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Special Programming on WETA

As President Obama is sworn into office for a second term on Monday, he shares the spotlight with Martin Luther King Jr. as we celebrate the civil rights leader’s birthday January 21. This is a great time to reflect on the history of the United States and the progress made for African Americans in recent years. Join us beginning at 9:30am on Monday, as we spend the day revisiting key moments of the civil rights movement. And don’t forget! At 11:00am Monday, WETA is airing the PBS NewsHour Inauguration 2013: A Special Report.

Read the full article for video previews of each show including a special behind the scenes look at the making of Slavery By Another Name and the WETA Around Town tour of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.

 

American Experience: Roads to Memphis

This is the story of one man’s desire to be forever infamous. James Earl Ray lived a life of crime and was always in and out of prison. After he failed to get adequate attention from his prison escape, Ray plotted and carried out the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama. Through eyewitness accounts, this story is told by people who knew King and officials who helped capture Ray. Investigate the steps leading up to the murder and the manhunt which ensued after.

Watch on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Monday January 21 at 9:30am and 5:30pm.

 

American Experience: Freedom Riders

From May until November of 1961 a revolution was happening in an unconventional place; public transportation. 600 Americans of diverse races, genders, and ages became Freedom Riders as they deliberately broke Jim Crow Laws traveling on buses and trains in the South. This was life-threatening activism and its participants were often attacked verbally or physically. Their efforts weren’t in vain however, and on September 22, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued its order to end the segregation in bus and rail stations. Follow the story of these heroes on the move and their efforts during the civil rights movement.

Watch on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Monday January 21st at 2:00pm

 

Slavery by Another Name

Based on the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name follows the lives of African Americans from 1865 up until World War II. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 is commonly thought to have ended slavery, the struggles of African Americans in the South persisted with new forms of forced labor known as “neoslavery.” This documentary is brought to life with archival footage and interviews with decedents of former slaves and scholars.

Watch on WETA TV26 & WETA HD Monday January 21st at 4:00pm

Learn more about the film and go behind the scenes with this PBS video: The Making of Slavery By Another Name. 

 

Watch the WETA Around Town tour of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. 

 

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Free Movies in DC | WETA Movie Night January 19

Identity

As humans, every one of us has a unique blend of characteristics that make up our identities. Join us this Saturday starting at 9:30pm on the Washington, DC area PBS station WETA TV26 & WETA HD and take an in-depth look at the identities of three very different people in a Hollywood film and two Independent Lens documentaries.

 

Top Hat (1935) – Mistaken Identity

Love hurts… especially when your significant other thinks you’re someone else.  The remedy? A nice a suit, a bow-tie, and a little tap dancing to turn that frown upside-down.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers top the charts in this musical performance making Top Hat a classic comedy you just can’t miss.  The film follows an American dancer named Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) as he travels to London to star in a production by Horace Hardwick (Everett Horton).  Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) is rudely woken one night to the tap dancing of Jerry Travers as he celebrates in the room above.  After confronting him, hate turns to love.  The situation becomes complicated when identities are confused and tensions run high.

Tune in for Top Hat beginning at 9:30pm on Saturday. Repeats Sunday at 11:30am

 

 

Independent Lens: Soul Food Junkies – Cultural Identity

When tradition runs strong, old habits die hard.  In filmmaker Byron Hurt’s culture, indulging in fried pork chips, greasy bacon, and cheese covered scrambled eggs is normal.  In his documentary, Soul Food Junkies, Hurt explores the culinary ceremony, in which eating unhealthy is just part of some African Americans' heritage.  As the son of an overweight father, Hurt hopes to open the eyes of the public to the harsh effects that come with this tradition.  Through interviews with doctors, community members, historians, and soul food cooks, Hurt explores the pros and cons of soul food and how it deeply impacts African American identity. 

Tune in Saturday at 11:00pm for our screening of Independent Lens: Soul Food Junkies.

 

 

Independent Lens: P-Star Rising – The Search for Identity

Making a name for yourself in the hip-hop world is one of the many hardships that comes with a rap career.  For one little girl following her dream, this would not be the case. Her father, Jesse Diaz, was once a rap entrepreneur in search of fame but soon found himself in the shoes of the many other hip-hop artists that fail to make it. Priscilla, Jesse’s nine-year-old daughter, discovers that she is not just an ordinary pre-teen in Harlem but a gifted child with the ability to rap like a pro. Anxious to relive the life he once lost, Jesse becomes invested in Priscilla’s career. Follow the rise and fall of stardom in this docu-drama about family, fame, and obsession.

Join us this Sunday at 12:00am for the Independent Lens documentary P-Star Rising.

 

 

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Watch Dust Bowl | Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl

When Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the North East last month, it was a terrible natural disaster. In the 1930s, a disaster of a different kind tore through America and left its mark as the worst man-made ecological disaster: The Dust Bowl. Optimistic for a more fruitful future, Americans and European immigrants mistakenly (and regrettably) believed the Great Plains would serve as a profitable stomping ground for cultivating crops. When a succession of droughts plagued the Great Plains, the land that had once been a source of life for so many Americans was devastated and poor farming practices were to blame. With the grass gone, furious winds swept over the plains and produced dust storms that could have potentially eradicated the “breadbasket of America”.

Presented Nationally by WETA through PBS, award-winning director and filmmaker Ken Burns takes on this major event in our history in his newest documentary Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl. Interviews with survivors, archival photographs, and rare film footage tell the stories of those who lived through the “Dirty Thirties”. Survival, determination, human error, nature, and most importantly the relationship between humans and the land we live on, Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl shows how a nation overcame this catastrophe. Check out this interactive Dust Bowl experience on PBS.org! 

 

Watch the two-part series of Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl Sunday, November 18 at 8:00pm and Monday, November 19 at 8:00pm on WETA TV26 and WETA HD.

 

Encore presentations of The Dust Bowl Part 1 on WETA TV26 & WETA HD:

November 18 at 10:00pm, November 19 at 2:30pm, November 22 at 2:00pm

Encore presentations of The Dust Bowl Part 2 on WETA TV26 & WETA HD:

November 19 at 10:00pm, November 20 at 2:30pm, November 22 at 4:00pm

 

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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.