Independent Lens


Independent Lens is television’s largest showcase of independent documentary film, airing weekly on PBS primetime. The website provides summaries of films, searchable by topic, date, and issue. Many recent films have trailers and narrated soundbites which can be used in classrooms or as catalysts for discussion. Film topics are nearly always centered on critical social issues, and so are nearly always relevant - directly or indirectly - to global and public health. For example:

Films that focus on health conditions range from Wilhemina’s War, in which a woman struggles to help her granddaughter survive the health risks and stigma of living with HIV in the South and Farmer/Veteran about a combat veteran’s struggle to overcome PTSD, to films that explore gender violence in India's Daughter.

Films that focus on the determinants of health or “conditions for health” include American Denial, which explores the power of unconscious biases around race and class, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes which goes beyond the prison system to explore how lives outside the gates are affected by prisons, and Dogtown Redemption, about survival in an Oakland neighborhood decimated by unemployment, addiction, and violence. 

Films that focus on responses to health challenges include TRAPPED, the story of reproductive health care providers struggling against controversial regulations, Mimi and Dona, about the complex caregiving pressures on families, and The Waiting Room, about overwhelmed public safety-net hospitals.

A number of films embrace cross-cutting issues like the environment, climate change, weather-related disasters, war and violence, including After the Storm, Stray Dog, and The Great Invisible.

Also useful for educators may be Indie Lens Pop-Up, a neighborhood series (with some online screenings) that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations, and Indie Lens Storycast, an online collection of docu-series showcasing real stories, made up of 5-8 short episodes. 


Independent Lens.