Tag Archives: PBS Distribution

April’s bounty of must-see, must-have PBS programs arriving on DVD

PBS Distribution continues to make news with four special, must-see programs that will be available on DVD in April.

The New York Cantors (available April 10 )
Three young cantors, all rising stars in the world’s Jewish music scene, are brought together in Amsterdam’s revered 17th century Portuguese Synagogue for a concert of Jewish sacred and secular music arranged for orchestra and choir. The New York Cantors DVDThe New York Cantors are comprised of Brooklyn-born Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, cantor of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City; Azi Schwartz, a native of Israel and cantor at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue; and Netanel Hershtik, cantor at The Hampton Synagogue, Westhampton Beach, New York, also Israeli-born.

Understanding the Opioid Epidemic (available April 10)
Through personal stories and interviews with experts, this program reveals the tragic impact of the overuse of prescription painkillers on individuals, families and communities. They are stories that often begin with medical treatment for moderate to severe pain that evolve into drug addiction and death.Understanding the Opioid Epidemic DVD In addition to the personal stories of those impacted by the opioid crisis, the documentary explores the dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of prescription painkillers.

Impossible Builds, Volume 1 (available April 24)
This is an “access all areas” look at the creation of some of the world’s most ambitious, complex, and technologically advanced construction projects. From subaquatic homes and the ultimate in billionaire luxury, to futuristic towers and pencil thin skyscrapers – these are the structures they said could never be built.

Impossible Builds, Volume 1 DVD

But now, using revolutionary technology and cutting-edge construction materials, three previously impossible builds are taking shape across the world. And the program is on site to follow their progress every step of the way.

Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living with Peggy Cappy (available April 24)
Anyone who has lived with pain knows how physically and emotionally debilitating it can be. This is why Peggy’s most popular programs have addressed how yoga can be used to alleviate pain and cope with various challenges from arthritis to back pain.

In this show, Peggy and Lee, a neuromuscular therapist, offer effective strategies for dealing with pain day-by-day and highlight stories of those who once suffered pain but are now living pain-free.

 

 

Two NOVA programs take viewers out of space … and that’s a great treat

Sometimes we are please to tell you about NOVA programs that are, well, out of space. Witness:

NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse (PBS Distribution, releasing April 3)
Black holes are the most enigmatic, mysterious, and exotic objects in the universe. In Black Hole Apocalypse, NOVA investigates recent surprising discoveries about black holes that have raised deep questions and brought astrophysicsto a major crossroads.  Guided by astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin, viewers journey to the weirdest places in the cosmos to explore the profound mysteries of these gravitational monsters.

Where do they come from?  What’s inside them?  What happens if you fall into one?  And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity?  Through dynamic CGI animation, Levin illustrates the principles of gravity, and even takes a trip to the edge of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. What will happen if she gets too close?

NOVA: The Impossible Flight (PBS Distribution, releasing April 10)
It is one of the greatest aviation undertakings of our time: a 26,000-mile perilous journey to circle the globe in a plane that doesn’t use a single drop of fuel. The launch of the Solar Impulse II in March 2015 is the culmination of a 13-year bold endeavor to push the boundaries of human flight and demonstrate the potential for renewable energy.

In this program, NOVA embarks on an ambitious quest with two intrepid pilots and a team of brilliant engineers, meteorologists, and flight controllers as they design, construct, and fly around the world in the first zero-fuel, solar-powered airplane.

“The Day The Dinosaurs Died” investigates the greatest vanishing act in the history of our planet

Reflecting NOVA’s unparalleled 44-year-old commitment to long-form science programming, this installment examines the latest evidence surrounding one of the greatest mysteries in Earth’s history–the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs.  Through interviews, footage of scientists working at sites around the world and stunning digital recreations of events from 66 million years ago,  NOVA: The Day the Dinosaurs Died vividly brings to life the compelling scientific inquiry around this epic catastrophe.

PBS Distribution releases the program on DVD March 20.  It is also available for digital download.

At the end of the Cretaceous Era, after 170 million years of dominance, more than 700 species of dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record virtually overnight.  In the 1980s, the hypothesis emerged that an asteroid impact was the catalyst.  But the supporting evidence, including the exact nature of the global chain reaction an asteroid impact may have initiated, has been slowly emerging over decades.  The Day the Dinosaurs Died details the efforts of scientists to flesh out what happened in the days and weeks after the asteroid impact.  Will they find the smoking gun that provides definitive proof?

The program visits an unprecedented, multidisciplinary scientific expedition to drill into the Chicxulub Crater site off the coast of Mexico, the leading suspect for the impact site.   It also travels to South Dakota, Argentina and other sites where paleontologists hunt fossils.  Finally, the program visually reconstructs the hell on earth–tidal waves, dust clouds, sudden mountain formation– that wreaked global havoc and doomed the dinosaurs.

Tirelessly leading the fight for racial and labor justice, Dolores Huerta has evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century

She is one of the most important, yet least known activists of our time. Tirelessly leading the fight for racial and labor justice, Dolores Huerta evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century—and continues the fight to this day, at 87.

With unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of eleven, Dolores (PBS Distribution) chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton to her early years with the United Farm Workers, from her work with the headline-making grape boycott launched in 1965 to her role in the feminist movement of the ’70s to her continued work as a fearless activist. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, her children and more, Dolores is an intimate and inspiring portrait of a passionate champion of the oppressed and an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change. The film is released March 27.

“In the 1970s, the national grape boycott that Dolores Huerta helped organize played out in the small rural Minnesota farming community where I grew up—supported by our Catholic church along with tens of thousands of religious organizations across the country,” says Lois Vossen, Independent Lens executive producer. “More than forty years later, Dolores is still an indefatigable architect for social change on behalf of poor, underrepresented people, urging them to seek self-determination with her refrain ‘Si Se Puede’ (‘Yes We Can’).”

It was in 1955 that she would meet a likeminded colleague, CSO Executive Director César E. Chávez. The two soon discovered that they shared a common vision of organizing farm workers and in 1962 they launched the National Farm Workers Association, which would evolve into the United Farm Workers and bring national attention to the conditions faced by farm laborers.

Dolores’s lobbying and negotiating talents helped secure Aid for Dependent Families (AFDC) and disability insurance for farm workers; she was also instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted California’s farm workers the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. While the farm workers lacked financial capital, they were able to wield significant economic power through hugely successful national boycotts. As their principal legislative advocate, Dolores became one of the UFW’s most visible spokespersons.

While directing the first National Boycott of California Table Grapes out of New York, Huerta met Gloria Steinem and was introduced to the burgeoning feminist movement which rallied behind the farm workers’ cause. Having found a supportive voice with other feminists, Huerta began to challenge gender discrimination within the farm workers’ movement.

At age 58, Dolores suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then-presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. Following a lengthy recovery, she began to focus on women’s rights, traversing the country on behalf of the Feminist Majority’s “Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the Year 2000” campaign which encouraged Latinas to run for office.

Dolores continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children as founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in March of 2013 and has received numerous awards including The Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998, Ladies Home Journal’s “100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century,” and nine Honorary Doctorates from U.S. universities. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Dolores with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For the record: Celebrate Black History Month with these historically important films and records

Black Wings  (PBS Distribution)
For early aviators, conquering the forces of gravity was a daunting challenge. But black aviators had an additional challenge: to conquer the forces of racism.

Image result for PBS BLACK WINGS

Meet the men and women of color who took to the skies throughout the 20th century and helped prove to a segregated nation that skin color didn’t determine skill level. From biplanes to commercial jets, and from barnstormers to war fighters, meet the path-breaking pilots who opened the skies for all.


In the firmament of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n’ roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, including “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven,”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Reelin and Rockin”.

Geffen/UMe are paying tribute to the immortal spirit of Chuck Berry with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight, with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition.

The five-disc vinyl box set housed in a textured box, complements the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP Berry Christmas, featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. A limited edition version on “Chess Blue” vinyl, limited to 500 copies.

Bob Dylan once called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” John Lennon stated, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” As Keith Richards writes in the booklet intro, “Chuck Berry is the gentleman who started it all.”

And if those testimonials aren’t convincing enough, one listen to The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition will make the case for Chuck Berry’s singular, timeless rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.


 

Cruel and Unusual, a profound documentary telling the story of three men—Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, known as the Angola 3. Wrongfully convicted for murdering a prison guard in 1972 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, these men have spent longer in solitary than any other prisoners in the US.  On his release, Albert Woodfox had spent 43 years in a six foot by nine foot cell for a crime he did not commit.

Cover for the documentary, "Cruel And Unusual"

The film is available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.

Told in detail by interviews and prison phone calls from King, Wallace and Woodfox, Cruel and Unusual allows viewers to experience these men’s pain and anguish. From the worst of the worst in their cells, these men managed to find the best of the best that the human spirit has to offer. They have fought for justice and never accepted defeat so that no one else will ever suffer the way they did. A call to action, the film aims to support the growing campaign to end the overuse of long term solitary confinement in America’s prisons.


The rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years—yet remains largely unknown. This latest documentary from Stanley Nelson, America’s foremost film chronicler of the African American experience, is the powerful story of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs come to life.

The story is told in Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (PBS Distribution).

A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field while remaining unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

“Frontline: War on the EPA” shows how a minor league baseball team owner came to political prominence by pledging to fight federal environmental regulations

How did Scott Pruitt go from fighting the EPA to running the agency and rolling back years of policy? The gripping documentary Frontline: War on the EPA (PBS Distribution) investigates the conservative political forces and causes, like climate change skepticism, that propelled Pruitt’s takeover of the EPA.

With access to key players on all sides of the issue, the film traces how the fossil fuel industry fought back against Obama-era regulations with the help of a “strike force” of industry-funded state attorneys general, led by Pruitt. It also explores how Pruitt, a former state senator and minor league baseball team owner, came to political prominence first in Oklahoma and then in Washington, D.C. by pledging to fight federal environmental regulations, and defend the oil and gas industries.

With Pruitt now leading the federal agency he sued 14 times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, the documentary is an inside look at the triumphant ascent of the anti-regulatory movement in America.

 

“VA: The Human Cost of War” is a probing, profound film, another winner from Ric Burns

What is the exact human cost of war? Directed by six-time Emmy -winning filmmaker Ric Burns and executive produced by Lois Pope, VA: The Human Cost of War (PBS Distribution) takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, examining the organization’s history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans.The documentary examines the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, from its inception to the present day, exploring its successes and failures in properly caring for veterans upon their return from war, its critical role in the American healthcare system, and the need for major reform.

 Tracing its troubled beginnings as the Veterans Bureau of the 1920s through to the organization’s transformation into a modern healthcare system after World War II, the film tracks the ways in which the VA has had to quickly adapt to new challenges and obstacles as it attempts to care for veterans. Beholden to the executive branch for its funding and detached logistically from the leaders who plan and execute war, the VA has had to find ways to deal with the consequences and costs of war, which are incurred long after the fighting ceases. From the psychological and physical wounds of soldiers returning from Vietnam, to the changing demographic make-up of the troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, the film investigates the Department’s successes and gross missteps as its burden continues to grow larger, more complicated, and increasingly politicized.

Told through a series of personal stories from veterans and intertwined with deep historical and political analysis from leading scholars and elected officials, the film illustrates the key ways in which the VA, and we as a society, fail our veterans, who, according to Department of Veterans Affairs research, continue to commit suicide at the harrowing rate of 20 veterans per day.

“The Gilded Age” is a riveting documentary about the very, very, very, very rich . . . and the rest of us

To Gild the lily? We know that means unnecessarily adorning something already beautiful.  The expression is a condensation of Shakespeare’s metaphor in King John: “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily … is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

Thirty years after the Civil War, America had transformed itself into an economic powerhouse and was fast becoming the world’s leading producer of food, coal, oil and steel. But the transformation had created stark new divides in wealth, class and opportunity. By the end of the 19th century, the richest 4,000 families in the country—less than one percent of all Americans—possessed nearly as much wealth as the other 11.6 million families combined. The simultaneous growth of a lavish new elite and a struggling working class sparked passionate and violent debate over questions still being asked today: How is wealth best distributed, and by what process? Should the government concern itself with economic growth or economic justice? Are we two nations—one for the rich and one for the poor—or one nation where everyone has a chance to succeed?

The story is told in the riveting American Experience: The Gilded Age (PBS Distribution).

The Gilded Age, as it later came to be known, was dominated by larger-than-life men who wielded power across industrial and economic sectors. While the elite luxuriated in splendor, America’s cities were bursting with immigrants and former slaves looking for opportunity. A message resounded among the working class: Was America a land of opportunity or a closed system run by the few for their own gain? The program is a compelling portrait of an era of glittering wealth contrasted with extreme poverty.

Three “NATURE” programs that demand to be seen, flying high when bringing animal majesty to the screen

NATURE never fools with Mother Nature. Instead, the acclaimed PBS program produces incredible, educational must-see programs that land on DVD. Here is a triumvirate of recent faves.

Charlie and the Curious Otters
The program focuses on efforts to rehabilitate three orphaned river otters in Wisconsin, shows some ground breaking experiments using cool cameras and anatomical CGI, and captures other wild  encounters. At the Wild Instincts Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Charlie is introduced to three orphan river otter pups and films their progress and training:  from needing around the clock care and feeding, to being taught the crucial skills they will need in order to return to the wild. Despite the fact otters can swim nearly a quarter mile without coming up for air, baby otters do not start out as natural swimmers and they don’t really like water. So the center’s manager Mark Naniot assumes the roles of surrogate mother and teacher. Charlie films him coaxing the pups into a small pool for swimming lessons and later adding minnows which the orphans instinctively chase and catch.

http://https://youtu.be/EoVYwW9DvM8

The filmmakers also go to Florida Springs, Florida where a clear spring fed river provides Charlie with great conditions to capture rare shots of otters hunting underwater. At the Oakland Zoo, he films otters hunting fish in slow motion to determine how they detect and capture their prey so quickly. He also visits the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s head vet Dr. Mike Murray who explains that sea otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom which is a key survival asset both on land and in the water.

Naledi: One Little Elephant
The program chronicles the life of the orphaned baby pachyderm as she grows up with the help of her friends. Kiti, a gentle elephant in Botswana, was in her 661st day of pregnancy, a normal gestation period, when she finally gave birth to a baby girl. For nearly two weeks, the staff of Abu Camp, a halfway house for orphaned and former zoo and circus elephants, had been passing the time by coming up with a list of possible names for Kiti’s offspring. Perhaps because the calf was born at night, they called her Naledi, which means star in the local language.

But six weeks after giving birth, Kiti dies from a prolapse of the large intestine, and Naledi is left an orphan. Although elephant families are close, the program shows how precarious it is for a newborn to survive once it has lost its mother. Naledi needs to be nursed, so when the herd’s matriarch can’t produce enough milk and doesn’t know how to care for her, Mike, Wellie, and other caretakers decide to take drastic measures before it is too late. The film follows the team as they separate Naledi from the herd, relocate her to another part of Abu Camp, make sure a caretaker is always with her around the clock, work to establish a bond, and finally entice her to take milk from a bottle.

 

 

H is for the Hawk: A New Chapter
After the unexpected death of her photojournalist father, Helen Macdonald overcame her grief by training an adult goshawk, one of nature’s most notoriously wild and free-spirited birds of prey. She had trained birds before, but never this raptor which she named Mabel. Macdonald found healing in that cathartic experience which became the basis for her 2014 international best-selling memoir H Is for Hawk.


Now, 10 years after she trained Mabel (who died of untreatable infection just before the author finished writing her book), Macdonald is ready to take on the challenge again, prompted by watching how a pair of wild goshawks reared their chicks in an English forest. This film accompanies her on visits to the pair’s nest to observe the latest developments and follows Macdonald’s emotional and intimate journey as she adopts a young goshawk and attempts to raise it as her own:  feeding, nurturing, and training her new charge in the hopes the months of preparation will culminate in a successful first free flight.

 

 

Two new titles from PBS Distribution are must-see history lessons

PBS Distribution has released the series Slavery and the Making of America on DVD and Digital HD. Produced by THIRTEEN/WNET New York, this landmark series documents the history of American slavery from its beginnings in the British colonies through the years of post-Civil War Reconstruction.  The program examines the integral role slavery played in shaping the new country’s development, challenging the long held notion that it was exclusively a Southern enterprise.

Through the remarkable stories of individual slaves, the program offers fresh perspectives on the slave experience and testifies to the active role that Africans and African Americans took in surviving their bondage and shaping their own lives.


For months, reports of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have dominated the headlines. FRONTLINE: Putin’s Revenge (PBS Distribution) tells the epic, inside story of how Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy, how U.S. intelligence came to believe he targeted the 2016 presidential election, the fallout under President Obama and now in the Trump administration, and the implications for the future of American democracy.

The program draws on more than 60 interviews with heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, diplomats, Russian politicians, historians and journalists to trace how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe.

With in-depth reporting from Moscow and Washington, D.C., Putin’s Revenge is a riveting and revealing documentary that explores why Putin has sought to sow distrust in America’s democracy.

The first part of the program is a portrait of what makes the Russian leader tick, and the events that shaped his belief that the U.S. has sought to undermine Russia dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union. It explores how Putin came to power and then carefully constructed his image, cracking down on independent media outlets and opponents. It also traces key turning points in Putin’s relationship with the U.S. over the years, including how his fear of a U.S. policy of regime change intensified, and how he came to see Hillary Clinton in particular as an enemy trying to oust him–despite State Department insistence it was only promoting democracy, not trying to steer the outcome of Russia’s election.

The second half delves into the riveting story of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and how and why the Obama administration struggled to confront Putin about both election interference and, before that, Putin’s actions in Ukraine.  The program   shows Donald Trump’s repeated praise of Putin, how Russia is believed to have weaponized hacked emails to influence U.S. news cycles and exploit the gulf between Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and how false stories picked up by Russian propaganda websites were then promoted by Russian trolls and bots on social media, and eventually found their way onto mainstream American news broadcasts.

Against the backdrop of investigations by the FBI and Congress into the role Russia played in the election, Putin’s Revenge is the must-watch, inside story of how we reached this point, what drives Putin, and what might happen next.