- Independent documentary filmmakers, as uniquely trusted storytellers about the complexities of American life, are critical to the future of the public sphere and a healthy democracy.
- At a moment of intertwined crises in America, public television and independent filmmakers are crucial partners in reaching the American public; both need more investment in that relationship: to stabilize it, support it, and ensure their mutual contribution to America’s communities.
- Public television urgently needs to strengthen its relationship with BIPOC independent filmmakers, a vibrant resource to address the racial reckoning.
- Increased funding is needed now, and on an ongoing basis, for independent filmmakers and the organizations that directly support their work.
Patricia Aufderheide is University Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. She founded the School’s Center for Media & Social Impact, where she continues as Senior Research Fellow. She serves on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, and has served on the board of Kartemquin Films. Her books include Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago), with Peter Jaszi; Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press), and Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press). She has been a Fulbright Research Fellow twice, in Brazil (1994-5) and Australia (2017). She is also a John Simon Guggenheim fellow (1994) and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others. Aufderheide has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including the George Stoney award for service to documentary from the University Film and Video Association in 2015 and the International Communication Association’s 2010 Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award.
Sharon La Cruise is the former Vice President of Admissions, Programs & Resident Life at International House NYC. She previously worked as a program manager and consultant for the Ford Foundation for 10 years. She has worked in television and film for 20 years, both in the corporate and production aspects of the business. In 2011, she completed her first film Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, a feature-length documentary on civil rights activist Daisy Bates, which was broadcast on February 2, 2012 on PBS’ Independent Lens. She began her television career with ABC primetime sales. She has worked for Blackside Inc., Firelight Media, Roja Productions, The Faith Project, The Coca-Cola Company, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and the Cable News Network (CNN). She has worked on: Dixie Chicks: Shut up & Sing, Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry, Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise, Citizen King, Matters of Race, This Far By Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys, Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun, and CNN’s Through the Lens, The Road to the White House and The Planetary Police. She is the recipient of the 2015 Adelphi University Distinguished Alumnae Award, a board member of ITVS, a member of International Documentary Association, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She holds an M.A. degree in television journalism from New York University, and a B.A. in history from Adelphi University.
Garry Denny is currently the Director of Programming for PBS Wisconsin. Garry’s career in public television began in 1982, while attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. as a traffic assistant at WHMM (now WHUT). In his second year at WHMM, Garry worked as assistant to the Director of Programming while continuing to serve as traffic assistant. Upon graduation with a B.A. degree in film directing, Garry moved to Madison, WI, to be the traffic supervisor for WHA. A number of promotions and organizational changes have led to Garry’s current position of Director of Programming. In his tenure as chief programmer for PBS Wisconsin, Garry has served on numerous system-wide committees, including the PBS Communications Advisory Committee and the CPB- funded Programmers’ Research Council. Garry has also served on panels directly associated with content selection, including POV editorial committee and Open Call activities for ITVS. Garry served as a board member and President of the Public Television Programmers Association and is currently chair of the ITVS Board of Directors. In 2001, Garry was named PBS Programmer of the Year.