Commuted, Hundreds of Thousands and What These Walls Won't Hold, address mass incarceration and the fight for human dignity, and How We Live (Como Vivimos), offer new perspectives on immigration and economic globalization
New Films Launch Beginning April 2024 on WORLD
IDA Documentary Award-winning series America ReFramed has announced the acquisition of four new films premiering as part of its 12th winter/spring season: Commuted, What These Walls Won't Hold, Hundreds of Thousands and How We Live (Como Vivimos). These films support America ReFramed’s ongoing mission to showcase filmmakers whose work challenges the definition of culture in an ever-evolving America.
Season 12 further advances how voices of underrepresented communities – especially incarcerated individuals and young people of color – fit into the larger cultural conversation and how they are transforming our democracy.
The new season began January 2024 with the previously-announced documentary The Cost of Inheritance: An America ReFramed Special, premiering Monday, January 15 at 8/7c on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on WORLD followed by an encore presentation on Thursday, January 18 at 8/7c. Directed by Emmy® nominee and Peabody Award winner Yoruba Richen (The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks), and executive produced by Darryl Ford Williams and Christopher Hastings, the film explores the current-day pursuit of reparations for African Americans.
"In a crowded media landscape, America ReFramed offers a home for important stories that remain under the radar for many Americans. Season 12 brings to the forefront stories of hope, humanity and community in the face of many forms of oppression and disempowerment," said Christopher Hastings, executive producer for WORLD at GBH in Boston. "A healthy democracy demands engagement, and WORLD and American Documentary hope to bring audiences a nuanced cross-section of unique American culture, structural injustices and paths forward toward change."
"At American Documentary, we believe good documentaries teach us to listen and really hear the stories of others with open minds and open hearts," said Erika Dilday, Executive Director of American Documentary and Executive Producer of America ReFramed and POV. "They are a catalyst for filmmakers and protagonists to tell their own stories, and, in the process, help us consider our responsibilities to others. Public media is deeply invested in this art form and wants it to continue to succeed."
As we begin the presidential election year, mass incarceration and its crushing effect on the working class, low-income individuals and communities of color, and whether immigration is good or bad for the country, are among the key topics candidates must address. The new multi-platform initiative "Liberated Lives," a curated collection of films showcasing stories of individuals transitioning from incarceration to reintegration, begins April 1 with Commuted, a co-presentation with Black Public Media's AfroPoP. The film, by New Orleans director Nailah Jefferson, is about Danielle Metz, an African American mother putting her life together after her triple-life sentence was commuted by the Obama administration.
Other new season titles airing this spring as part of the collection include: Adamu Taye Chan's powerful documentary What These Walls Won't Hold, shining a light on the transformative power of love and solidarity amidst adversity at San Quentin State Prison; and the short film Hundreds of Thousands, directed by Christian Vasquez, capturing a family reeling from the unjust incarceration of an ailing, mentally ill loved one. This digest will be featured across WORLD's America ReFramed and Local, USA series and Black Public Media’s AfroPoP.
Films premiering May include two titles that present new perspectives around immigration and Asian American diaspora. How We Live (Como Vivimos), directed by Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, shares a year with a close-knit community of Mexican-American farmworker families whose lives, routines and schooling are disrupted every December when they are required to vacate their homes at the end of the growing season. The previously-announced In Search of Bengali Harlem, directed by Aladdin Ullah and Vivek Bald, with air as part of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, following Ullah from the streets of Harlem to the villages of Bangladesh to uncover his parents' past and relate the specific history of Bengali Muslim immigrants who arrived in mid-20th century Harlem.
Throughout the season, America ReFramed will also host encore presentations of timely documentaries committed to social justice issues. January films in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day include: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America (1/4/24); The Death of My Two Fathers (1/11/24); The Cost of Inheritance (1/8/24 on PBS and 1/15 & 1/18/24 on WORLD); and Big Chief, Black Hawk (1/25/24).
Commuted | April 1
by Nailah Jefferson | Presented in partnership with AfroPoP
An intimate look at the life of Danielle Metz and the familial impacts of long-term incarceration. At 26 years old, Danielle was sentenced to triple-life plus 20 years for nonviolent drug offenses. After serving 23 years in prison, Danielle’s sentence was commuted by the Obama Administration as a part of the Clemency Initiative. Now back home, Danielle is trying to start life over again in her 50s while working to help other women avoid her fate.
What These Walls Won’t Hold | Spring 2024
by Adamu Taye Chan
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic at San Quentin State Prison, What These Walls Won’t Hold chronicles the organizing and relationships of people who came together beyond the separations created by incarceration to respond to this crisis. Filmmaker Adamu Taye Chan, who was incarcerated at San Quentin during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, documents his path through incarceration and beyond.
Hundreds of Thousands | Spring 2024
by Christian Vasquez and Stevie Walker-Webb
In Hundreds of Thousands, a family reeling from the unjust incarceration of an ailing mentally ill loved one calls on their faith and the strength of community to right a systemic wrong. Music, love and creativity are used to permeate the isolation of a solitary confinement cell, and a public performance on prison grounds is used to challenge the state to do better.
How We Live (Como Vivimos) | Spring 2024
by Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz
California's migrant family housing centers are one of few affordable housing options available to farmworking families – but the centers are only available for residence during the six to nine months of the growing season. In the state's Central Valley, Mexican-American youth, many of them U.S. citizens, are missing at least three months of school each year due to this annual forced displacement. How We Live (Como Vivimos) explores the rhythms, resilience and aspirations of such students and their families over one year.
In Search of Bengali Harlem | Spring 2024
by Vivek Bald & Alaudin Ullah
As a teenager growing up in 1980s Harlem, Alaudin Ullah was swept up in the revolutionary energy of early hip-hop. He rejected his working-class Bangladeshi parents and turned his back on everything South Asian and Muslim. Now, as an actor and playwright contending with the Islamophobia of post-9/11 Hollywood, Alaudin embarks on a transformative journey to uncover his parents' extraordinary past and unearth a deeper understanding of the complex histories of South Asian and Muslim Americans.
America ReFramed, a series co-produced by WORLD and American Documentary, airs every Thursday at 8/7c on WORLD. America ReFramed is available on worldchannel.org, amdoc.org, WORLD’s YouTube Channel and on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app. Episodes of America ReFramed also roll out weekly on-air and online on Link TV (Direct TV channel 375 & Dish Network channel 9410).
A tentpole program of public television’s WORLD, America ReFramed brings to life compelling stories, personal voices and experiences that illuminate the contours of our ever-changing country. Since 2012, the anthology series has premiered 179 films from more than 380 filmmakers, including works from established artists like Shola Lynch, Deann Borshay Liem and Marshall Curry and featured broadcast debuts of Nicholas Bruckman, Ursula Liang and PJ Raval. More than half of these documentaries were helmed by female filmmakers and a third are credited to BIPOC filmmakers. The series has centered the stories of the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, veterans, seniors, immigrants and people from a myriad of backgrounds.
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