New Roster of Independent Non-Fiction Films Join PBS Primetime Lineup in 2003

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"Independent Lens" From ITVS Re-Launches; Expands to 29 Weeks

Pasadena, CA - July 26, 2002 - Independent documentaries will be presented in a series new to the PBS primetime schedule beginning February 2003, it was announced today by Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of PBS, at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena. INDEPENDENT LENS, a yearly 10-week fall series that premiered in 1999, will now expand to 29 primetime episodes a year and will be curated by ITVS (the Independent Television Service) and PBS. The series is designed to complement P.O.V., PBS's award-winning 14-week showcase for personal documentary. Presented on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. (check local listings), P.O.V. and INDEPENDENT LENS will establish a consistent timeslot for independents on PBS.

"Just as FRONTLINE WORLD and WIDE ANGLE offer differing perspectives on contemporary global events, PBS will now have two series - INDEPENDENT LENS and P.O.V. - to capture more fascinating, compelling stories from the world of nonfiction," said Ms. Mitchell. "Multiple points of entry for independent producers will inevitably bring a greater diversity of voices and viewpoints to our audience."

INDEPENDENT LENS is an anthology series that will present hour-long (and occasional 90-minute) documentaries that showcase the best documentary programming from the U.S. and abroad. Encompassing the full spectrum of nonfiction film, from history to animation to shorts to social-issue films, the series will broaden the scope for documentary filmmakers and allow audiences access to powerful new films. INDEPENDENT LENS is made possible by a special launch grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

PBS is re-launching INDEPENDENT LENS with ITVS, which, since its inception over ten years ago, has funded and presented the work of some of the most creative independent producers on television. ITVS has presented more than 200 documentaries on public television in the last 10 years, accompanied by national outreach and award-winning Web sites. The series will contribute to PBS's and ITVS's missions of reaching people who rarely see themselves or their communities on television, with stories that accurately reflect their lives.

INDEPENDENT LENS will be curated by PBS and ITVS with a team consisting of Alyce Myatt, vice president, programming and Cheryl Jones, senior director, program development and independent films from PBS and Claire Aguilar, director of programming and Lois Vossen, director of broadcast distribution and communications from ITVS.

"We are very pleased to be working with PBS on INDEPENDENT LENS because it demonstrates PBS's increased commitment to independent filmmakers," ITVS Executive Director Sally Fifer said. "The series fulfills a 10-year dream on the part of ITVS and the independent community to have a consistent place for nonfiction programming on the national schedule. We look forward to re-launching a smart, creative series that will include a broad range of documentaries, from current events and historical docs to true tales that are stranger than fiction. Think reality TV with a brain."

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving over 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet.


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Michael Turner, PBS

Cathy Lehrfeld, PBS
212-708-3047 (In Pasadena 7/26: 626-535-9632)