Powerful points of view into immigration, economic inequality and racial justice—more than half directed by people of color and women, with a spotlight on Latinx cinema
Season premieres on July 5 with CJ Hunt’s The Neutral Ground—all films available streaming with free educational resources
New York, N.Y. – May 6, 2021 12 p.m. – POV returns to PBS in July with its 34th season, a slate of films that reaffirm public media’s vital role as a platform for the people and in sparking national dialogue. America’s longest-running documentary series’ newest season follows artists, activists, elders, comedians, frontline workers and politicians across the globe as they navigate their personal stories and the larger histories under which they take shape.
The season kicks off with writer and comedian CJ Hunt’s directorial debut, The Neutral Ground, on July 5. All films are accompanied by educational resources and will be available to stream on all PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App. Premieres continue through fall 2021, with primetime specials in early 2022.
POV maintains its decades-long commitment to centering authentic independent stories and the diverse artists who tell them. This year, more than half of POV films were directed by filmmakers of color and women, trans or gender nonconforming filmmakers. The series also presents international works from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Palestine and Peru. Additional titles, including the fourth season of POV Shorts and streaming and interactive projects, will be announced throughout the year.
“Since POV’s inception nearly 35 years ago, the series’ mission has been simple: to use public television to meet the moment; to program the stories and voices that speak to the present and to the future of nonfiction film; and to ensure that a wide diversity of perspectives is represented both in front of and behind the camera,” said Erika Dilday, the incoming executive director of American Documentary and new executive producer of POV. “These are films that are unafraid to confront the issues at the heart of their communities.”
“POV’s new season on PBS embodies the attributes of authentic and diverse storytelling and builds connections with audiences in the communities we serve. With a variety of multiplatform touchpoints, including free educational resources to support classroom learning, POV’s 34th season delivers on public television’s mission in a bold and impactful way,” said Sylvia Bugg, chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming.
The Neutral Ground, which will debut at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, documents the fight over monuments in New Orleans and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. In 2015, director CJ Hunt begins filming the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four Confederate monuments. But when that removal is halted by death threats, Hunt sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America.
Upholding its reputation as the premier destination for artful, thought-provoking films, POV continues its season with new work from celebrated as well as up-and-coming nonfiction directors around the globe. In Stateless, veteran filmmaker Michèle Stephenson follows a young attorney as she advocates for Dominicans of Haitian descent who have been stripped of their citizenship. Emmy Award-winner David Osit returns to POV with Mayor, an unconventional look at the Israeli occupation of Palestine through the eyes of the Christian mayor of Ramallah. Independent Spirit Award-winner Elegance Bratton’s Pier Kids shows us the world of New York City’s Christopher Street Pier, where Black queer and trans youth navigate homelessness while building chosen families. And rising filmmaker Ashley O’Shay’s directorial debut, Unapologetic, focuses on two fierce abolitionists in Chicago whose upbringing and experiences shape their activism and views on Black liberation.
POV co-productions comprise one-third of the season’s lineup, reflecting a series commitment to early support for new and innovative artists. Leah Galant and Maya Cueva’s On the Divide, which debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, tells the story of the last reproductive health clinic on the U.S./Mexico border and the people whose lives revolve around it. Additional co-productions include previously announced titles Cecilia Aldarondo’s Landfall, winner of DOC NYC’s Viewfinders Grand Jury Prize, and Angelo Madsen Minax’s poetic North by Current, which premiered at the 2021 Berlinale.
The season also offers a wide range of Latinx perspectives, styles and stories with six titles from across the Americas. In addition to Stateless, On the Divide and Landfall, Oscar Molina’s La Casa de Mama Icha follows the titular matriarch, who returns to Colombia, finding heartbreak and joy after decades in the U.S. In Núria Frigola Torrent’s The Song of the Butterflies, we meet an Indigenous painter from the White Heron clan of the Uitoto Nation in Peru who journeys home to the Amazonian land of his ancestors. Emily Cohen Ibañez’s debut feature documentary, Fruits of Labor, shows the impact of ICE raids on a Mexican-American teen’s dreams. The film will be POV’s first-ever collaboration with VOCES, PBS’ signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase.
“As one of the most trusted curators of independent and boundary-pushing work on broadcast television, POV has always presented fearless stories that deliver signature points of view. This season’s films continue in this tradition with some of the boldest documentaries of the year,” said Chris White, executive producer of POV, who marks his twentieth season with the series this year.
POV is one of the most highly-acclaimed documentary series on television. In the last year alone, the series received eight News & Documentary Emmy nominations, and earned the 2020 Best Documentary award for The Silence of Others (POV Season 32). In addition to its Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, The Mole Agent (POV Season 33) was also shortlisted for Best International Feature. Four POV films were awarded Peabody Awards in 2020.
Season 34 Lineup
The Neutral Ground directed by CJ Hunt, produced by Darcy McKinnon
Broadcasts July 5, 2021
CJ Hunt investigates why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America. A co-production of POV and ITVS, in association with the Center for Asian American Media. A co-presentation of Black Public Media and the Center for Asian American Media. Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival.
Landfall directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, produced by Ines Hoffman Kanna
Broadcasts July 12, 2021
Shard-like glimpses of post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico examine a transformed world.A co-production of POV and ITVS, in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival and Winner Viewfinders Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, DOC NYC Film Festival.
Stateless directed by Michèle Stephenson
Broadcasts July 19, 2021
An attorney advocates for Dominicans of Haitain descent who have been stripped of their citizenship. A co-production of POV, Latino Public Broadcasting and Black Public Media. Winner Best Feature Documentary, BlackStar Film Festival and Special Jury Prize, Hot Docs Film Festival. Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival.
Mayor directed by David Osit
Broadcasts July 26, 2021
Musa Hadid is the mayor of Ramallah, the de facto capital of Palestine. Winner Grand Jury Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Pier Kids directed by Elegance Bratton, produced by Chester Algernal
Broadcasts August 2, 2021
In New York City, queer and trans youth of color make the Christopher Street Pier their own. Truer Than Fiction Award Winner, Independent Spirit Awards.
The Song of the Butterflies directed by Núria Frigola Torrent, produced by Rolando Toledo
Broadcasts August 30, 2021
Rember, an Indigenous artist in Peru, journeys home to the Amazonian land of his ancestors. A co-presentation of Latino Public Broadcasting and Vision Maker Media. Official Selection, Hot Docs Film Festival.
Fruits of Labor directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez
Broadcasts October 4, 2021
In central California, a Mexican-American teen goes to work when ICE raids threaten her family. A co-production of POV and Latino Public Broadcasting, co-presented by POV and VOCES. Official Selection, SXSW Film Festival.
La Casa de Mama Icha directed by Oscar Molina, produced by Brenda Steinecke Soto
Broadcasts October 18, 2021
Mama Icha returns home to Colombia, finding heartbreak and joy after decades in the U.S. A co-presentation of Latino Public Broadcasting.
Things We Dare Not Do directed by Bruno Santamaría, produced by Abril López Carillo
Broadcasts October 25, 2021
In a Mexican coastal village, 16-year-old Ñoño has a secret that defies gender norms. Official Selection, Hot Docs Film Festival. Official Selection DOC NYC FilMFestival.
North by Current directed by Angelo Madsen Minax, produced by Felix Endara
Broadcasts November 1, 2021
Director Angelo Madsen Minax returns home to rural Michigan after the death of his niece. A co-production of POV. Official Selection, Berlinale. Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival.
Unapologetic directed by Ashley O’Shay, produced by Morgan Johnson
Broadcasts December 27, 2021
After two police killings, Black abolitionists fight to hold Chicago officials accountable. Official Selection, DOC NYC Film Festival and Winner Breakthrough Award, Athena Film Festival.
Not Going Quietly directed by Nicholas Bruckman, produced by Amanda Roddy
Broadcasts January 24, 2022
After being diagnosed with ALS, Ady Barkan launches a national movement for healthcare. Official Selection, SXSW Film Festival and Winner, Audience Award for Documentary Feature and the Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in Social Action.
On the Divide directed by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant
Broadcasts Spring 2022
The lives of three Latinx people intersect at the last abortion clinic on the border. A co-production of POV and Latino Public Broadcasting. Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival.
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. It was on POV that American television audiences were introduced to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, The Act of Killing and American Promise and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Nanfu Wang, and Laura Poitras. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries.
Over a generation, POV has championed accessibility and innovation in nonfiction storytelling. POV Engage works with educators, community organizations and PBS stations to present hundreds of free screenings every year, inspiring dialogue around today's most pressing social issues. The series’ interactive arm, POV Spark, creates and advances experiential forms of storytelling and programming, redefining U.S. public media to be more inclusive of emerging technologies and interactive makers.
POV films and projects have won 42 Emmy Awards, 25 George Foster Peabody Awards, 14 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
About American Documentary
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Perspective Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, Sage Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.