This February, Independent Lens presents two provocative new documentaries that take a fresh look at not only the African American experience but the ongoing question of the meaning of race in America.
The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People premieres on Monday, February 16, 2015, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings).
Directed by Thomas Allen Harris, the film probes the recesses of American history through images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into the lives of black families, whose experiences and perspectives are often missing from the traditional historical canon. These images show a much more complex and nuanced view of American culture and society and its founding ideals. Inspired by Reflections in Black by author Deborah Willis, the film features the works of Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Clarissa Sligh, and many others.
How do we explain the disconnect between what we believe and what we practice in what some have called a “post-racial” America? American Denial explores this question through the prism of a landmark 1944 inquiry into Jim Crow segregation conducted by Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal for the Carnegie Commission. His question: How could a people who cherish freedom and fairness also create such a racially oppressive society? Seventy years later, American Denial juxtaposes Myrdal’s investigation with current stories of racial injustice that are often overlooked in our national insistence on the preeminence of the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality. Directed by Llewellyn Smith and produced by Christine Herbes-Sommers, Smith, and Kelly Thomson, American Denial premieres Monday, February 23, 2015, 10:00-11:00 pm. ET (check local listings).
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. The acclaimed series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For more visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @IndependentLens.