'Raising Bertie'
‘Raising Bertie’

PBS’ POV documentary series (American television’s longest-running independent documentary series) celebrating its 30th season, has unveiled a strong, diverse lineup of films tackling stories from the unseen and unheard, and from seemingly distant and disparate communities. From Syrian immigrants adjusting to life in Los Angeles, to North Carolina’s rural black community, to suburban police forces navigating rising tensions in their neighborhoods, and much more, these documentaries offer a timely montage of narratives threaded together by universal desires for inclusion, success and safety.

The 30th season of POV begins Monday, June 26, 2017 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS with streaming at pov.org and continues with broadcast premieres airing on Mondays at 10 p.m. through fall 2017, with primetime specials airing in 2018.

The season kicks off with a series of films on the Syrian war and the ongoing global refugee crisis, and then heads back to the United States to spotlight overlooked communities across the country, including the documentary “Raising Bertie” which centers on African American boys coming of age in rural North Carolina, and “Memories of a Penitent Heart,” in which a filmmaker digs into her family’s past to reconstruct the life of her late uncle, whose Catholic and Puerto Rican family spurned him as he expressed his gay identity in New York in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.

Both films have been covered on this blog.

"Presenting Princess Shaw"
“Presenting Princess Shaw”

Recent developments in the criminal justice system also take center stage this season, providing insights into our justice system, for example in “Do Not Resist,” which depicts municipal police forces that are rapidly militarizing with the blessing of the federal government.

And showcasing remarkable cross-cultural connections spanning the globe and through generations, 2 more documentaries you’ve read about previously on S&A will be screened, including “Presenting Princess Shaw” which follows a caretaker at a New Orleans nursing home by day, who moonlights as a singer and songwriter under the stage name Princess Shaw. Her dreams of stardom come that much closer to reality when an Israeli producer and international YouTube star discovers her on the video-sharing site. And in the Oscar-nominated short “Joe’s Violin,” a violin donated at a school instrument drive becomes the unlikely catalyst for a friendship between a 91-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor and a 12-year-old Bronx schoolgirl.

The lineup also includes films that focus on the lives of those with developmental disabilities, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future, and others that celebrate and contemplate the passage of time.

And there’s more…  The full schedule follows below.

“In times of political division, POV offers stories with universal import,” said POV executive director/executive producer Justine Nagan. “Issues like immigration, criminal justice and veterans’ issues are given more than the cable-news treatment, and talented directors are given a prime-time audience on PBS. From national broadcast and streaming to impactful community screenings, we are bringing important stories, vibrant characters and diverse filmmaking perspectives into living rooms and town halls across all 50 states.”

"Joe’s Violin"
“Joe’s Violin”

Executive producer Chris White added, “We enter our newest season at a time when people can tell their stories more easily than ever before, and documentary filmmaking and public media are integral to that development. We’re thrilled that such talented filmmakers, whether veterans in the field or emerging storytellers, will join us for our 30th season and spotlight journeys that would otherwise go untold.”

The POV 2017 Schedule (All programs air at 10 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Check local listings):

Dalya’s Other Country
by Julia Meltzer
June 26, 2017 at 9 p.m.
Dalya’s Other Country tells the nuanced story of members of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict who are remaking themselves after the parents separate. Effervescent teen Dalya goes to Catholic high school and her mother, Rudayna, enrolls in college as they both walk the line between their Muslim values and the new world in which they find themselves. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

4.1 Miles
by Daphne Matziaraki
June 26, 2017 (premieres with Dalya’s Other Country)
In the Oscar®-nominated short film 4.1 Miles, Daphne Matziaraki follows a day in the life of Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek coast guard who is caught in the middle of the refugee crisis in which Europe is embroiled. Despite limited resources, the captain and his crew attempt to save thousands of migrants from drowning in the Aegean Sea. Nominated, 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

From Damascus to Chicago
by Colleen Cassingham and Alex Lederman
June 26, 2017 (premieres with Dalya’s Other Country)
In the documentary short, From Damascus to Chicago, two young Syrian siblings recently resettled in Chicago enroll in a dance class, while the film follows their family’s experiences in navigating a new city and country.

The War Show
by Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon
July 3, 2017
Radio host Obaidah Zytoon captures the fate of Syria through the intimate lens of a small circle of friends and journalists. Beginning with peaceful Arab Spring protests in 2011, The War Show offers a four-year, ground-level look at how the country spiraled into bloody civil war. Official Selection of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

Last Men in Aleppo
by Feras Fayyad
July 10, 2017
After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. Through the eyes of volunteer rescue workers called the White Helmets, Last Men in Aleppo allows viewers to experience daily life, death and struggle in a place where people are fighting for sanity and where war has become the norm. Winner, 2017 Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary.

Presenting Princess Shaw
by Ido Haar
July 17, 2017
Samantha Montgomery placed her dreams on YouTube. Then they became a reality. Presenting Princess Shaw is the extraordinary story of an aspiring musician, down on her luck, who inspired internationally famous musician, composer and video artist Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel to create a magical collaboration that would introduce her talent to a whole new audience. Nominated, 2017 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Music Documentary. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).

Shalom Italia
by Tamar Tal
July 24, 2017
In Shalom Italia, three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany, in search of a cave where they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan landscapes, straddles the boundary between history and myth — a profound, funny, and endearing exploration of individual and communal memory.

Joe’s Violin
by Kahane Cooperman
July 24, 2017 (premieres with Shalom Italia)
In the Oscar®-nominated Joe’s Violin, a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Bronx school girl Brianna Perez, proving that the power of music can bring light in the darkest of times, and that a small act can have a significant impact. Nominated, 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Memories of a Penitent Heart
by Cecilia Aldarondo
July 31, 2017
Filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo suspected that there was something ugly in her family’s past. Memories of a Penitent Heart excavates a buried conflict around her uncle Miguel, who died at a time when AIDS was synonymous with sin. As she searches for Miguel’s partner decades later, the film — both a love story and a tribute — offers a cautionary tale of how faith can be used and abused in times of crisis. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).

Tribal Justice
by Anne Makepeace
August 21, 2017
In Tribal Justice, two Native American judges reach back to traditional concepts of justice in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities and create a more positive future for youth. By addressing the root causes of crime, they are modeling restorative systems that are working. Mainstream courts across the country begin to take notice.

Raising Bertie
by Margaret Byrne
August 28, 2017
Raising Bertie is an intimate portrait of three African-American boys as they face a precarious coming of age in Bertie County, North Carolina. Like many rural areas, Bertie County struggles with a dwindling economy, a declining population and a high school graduation rate below the state average. This powerful vérité film weaves the young men’s narratives together as they work to define their identities and grow into adulthood while navigating complex relationships, institutional racism, violence, poverty and educational inequity. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).

The Grown-Ups
by Maite Alberdi
September 4, 2017
In a school for individuals with Down Syndrome, four middle-aged friends yearn for a life of greater autonomy in a society that marginalizes them as disabled. The Grown-Ups is a humorous and at times sad and uncomfortable look at the tragic limbo of conscious adults. Winner, Best Female-Directed Film at the 2016 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. A co-presentation with the Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).

My Love, Don’t Cross That River
by Jin Mo-young
September 11, 2017
Spouses 89-year-old Kang Gye-yeol and 98-year-old Jo Byeong-man have shared a home for 76 years. While Kang and Jo spend every day together like a newlywed couple, they now must face the reality of their aging romance. My Love, Don’t Cross That River captures the fleeting moments of their twilight days.

Swim Team
by Lara Stolman
October 2, 2017
Parents of a boy on the autism spectrum form a competitive swim team, recruiting other teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of three diverse young athletes, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence and a life that feels like winning. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

The Islands and the Whales
by Mike Day
October 9, 2017
On the isolated North Atlantic archipelago of the Faroe Islands, the longtime hunting practices of the Faroese are threatened by dangerously high mercury levels in the whales, decimated seabird populations and anti-whaling activists. The Faroe islanders consider themselves a canary in the mine, their tale a warning to the rest of the world. Winner, 2016 DOC NYC Grand Jury Prize.

by Ramona S. Diaz
October 16, 2017
Motherland is an absorbingly intimate, vérité look at the busiest maternity hospital on the planet, in one of the world’s most populous countries: the Philippines. Women share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors and social workers. In a hospital that is literally bursting with life, we witness the miracle and wonder of the human condition. Winner, 2017 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision.

by Kirsten Johnson
October 23, 2017
A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. A work that combines documentary, autobiography and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. Official Selection of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Almost Sunrise
by Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco
November 13, 2017
In an attempt to put haunting combat experiences behind them, two friends embark on an epic 2,700-mile trek on foot across America, seeking redemption and healing as a way to close the moral chasm opened by war. Almost Sunrise is an intimate, vérité film that eschews stereotypes and instead captures an unprecedented portrait of veterans — one of hope, potential and untold possibilities.

Do Not Resist
by Craig Atkinson
A vital and influential exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States, Do Not Resist puts viewers in the center of the action — from a police training seminar that teaches the importance of “righteous violence” to the floor of a Congressional hearing on the proliferation of military equipment in small-town police departments. Winner, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Jury Award.