Through the Lens

Monday, we continue our series on documentary film with Paper Tigers. For a full year, director James Redford and his crew followed six troubled students at a Washington state alternative high school that adopted a radical new guidance program. Rather than focus on judgment and discipline, the school aims to help kids through deeper understanding and more effective treatment. The results: a dramatic reduction in fights and a five-fold graduation rate increase. Redford joins us to talk about it.

When Ben Masters and three of his friends graduated from college they decided to postpone entering the “real world” and instead head out on the trail with some horses. Their ride started at the Mexican border and ended five months and 3,000 miles later when they reached Canada. The trials and travails of their epic adventure are the subject the new documentary film Unbranded. Masters masterminded the film and the journey, and he joins us Wednesday as we continue our Through the Lens film series.

Oceanic Preservation Society,

In his last film, director Louie Psihoyos shed light on the shadowy practice of dolphin slaughter in Japan. His new film, Racing Extinction, bears witness to an even greater tragedy: the sixth extinction event, the one we’re causing. He and his filmmaking team went undercover to expose how the international wildlife trade and the oil and gas industries are together driving species around the globe to extinction. Psihoyos joins us Thursday to talk about that crisis and what can be done to stop it.

Monday, we continue our Through the Lens series with Daniel Junge’s film Being Evel. It’s a profile of Robert “Evel” Knievel, America’s most famous daredevil. He practically invented the genre of extreme sports and was considered a superhero in his day. To the thrill of millions, he jumped motorcycles over canyons, cars, buses, and perhaps most memorably, the fountain at Caesars Palace. Junge joins us to talk about Knievel’s trailblazing, tumultuous life and the motivations behind his death-defying feats.

Wednesday, we continue our Through the Lens series on documentary film with an exposé of the government’s controversial domestic counterterrorism tactics. The filmmakers behind (T)ERROR were on the ground as Saeed Torres, an aging Black revolutionary turned informant, aided the FBI in an active sting operation. Torres is just one of a growing number of covert operatives in America who straddle the murky line between preventing crimes and inciting them. Director David Sutcliffe joins us to talk about his film.

We continue our Through the Lens film series with a look at renowned director Jean-Luc Godard. Godard was part of the French New Wave movement of the 1960s. Now in his 80s, he’s still experimenting with the form. Film scholar David Sterritt says Godard’s most recent work is an astonishing audio-visual experience. There’s sort of story, but the adventure is the collage of language and images - including layers created in 3D. Sterritt joins us Tuesday to talk about Godard and Goodbye to Language.

We continue our series on documentary film Thursday with director Amy Berg’s film Prophet’s Prey. It’s an exposé of the rise and fall of Warren Jeffs, the self-declared prophet of the FLDS Church. The film recounts the dogged efforts of numerous people—including the writer Jon Krakauer, and Sam Brower, a private investigator—to shed light on Jeffs’ incredibly secretive polygamous community and ultimately bring the man to justice. Berg joins us Thursday to talk about her film.

With our next film in our documentary series Through the Lens, we’re trying something completely different. Man from Reno isn’t a documentary. It’s a feature film by former Utah filmmaker Dave Boyle. This neo-noir thriller follows a Japanese mystery author on her strange journey through San Francisco. Her story collides with that of a small-town sheriff investigating a possibly connected missing-person case. Boyle joins us Wednesday to talk about his film and his fascination with Japanese culture.

We continue our series on documentary film in January with a bizarre tale of murder in small-town America. Dave Jannetta’s film “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere” explores the mysterious and grisly death of a brilliant but aloof mathematician at the local college in quaint Chadron, Nebraska. The offbeat film is part character study, part tragicomedy, and it’s told through the eyes of writer Poe Ballantine, who wrote a memoir about the case. He and Jannetta will join us Monday.

Tuesday, it’s a special holiday edition of our Through the Lens series about documentary film. Humbugs may sneer, but filmmaker Mitchell Kezin is obsessed with Christmas music, and he isn’t alone. In his new film JINGLE BELL ROCKS! Kezin hits the road to document the vibrant subculture of holiday music fanatics and the yuletide tunes they love. He’ll join us to talk about his pop-culture pilgrimage and introduce us to the motley crew of merry misfits that’s reinventing the seasonal soundtrack.