POV's summer season begins June 22

POV’s regular season of Tuesday broadcasts begins June 22, 2010 with Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, which examines the life of this radical attorney from a surprising angle. Kunstler’s two daughters from his second marriage grew up lionizing a man already famous for his historic civil rights and anti-war cases. Then, in their teens, they began to be disillusioned by a stubborn man who continued representing some of the most reviled defendants in America — this time accused rapists and terrorists. In this intimate biography, the filmmakers seek to recover the real story of what made their late father one of the most beloved, and hated, lawyers in America.

This season POV will partner with StoryCorps to present a selection of animated documentary shorts based on StoryCorps’ groundbreaking oral-history project. StoryCorps was founded by MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay in 2003 and their broadcasts on National Public Radio have become the gold standard in public radio broadcasting. Six documentary animations will air this summer with selected feature-length POV films.

POV’s summer schedule includes The Beaches of Agnès, airing on June 29. In this delightful memoir, pioneering French filmmaker Agnès Varda (“Vagabond,” “Cléo From 5 to 7”) employs all the magic of cinema to juxtapose the real and the imagined, the past and the present, pain and joy. For the 81-year-old artist, memories live through her films. In The Beaches of Agnès, she uses film clips, old photos and gorgeous reenactments to revisit her Belgian youth, association with the French New Wave, marriage to director Jacques Demy (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”) and the making of her movies. You don’t need to know anything about Varda to enjoy this enchanting glimpse into the treasure chest of her memories.

POV presents two films looking at different aspects of life, politics and economics in Africa. Though apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994, economic injustices between blacks and whites remain unresolved. As revealed in Yoruba Richen’s incisive Promised Land, on July 6, the most potentially explosive issue is land. The film follows two black communities as they struggle to reclaim land from white owners, some of whom who have lived there for generations. Amid rising tensions and wavering government policies, the land issue remains South Africa’s “ticking time bomb,” with far-reaching consequences for all sides. Promised Land captures multiple perspectives of citizens struggling to create just solutions. A co-production of the National Black Programming Consortium, American Documentary/POV and the Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Landon Van Soest’s Good Fortune in July is a provocative exploration of how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. In Kenya’s rural countryside, Jackson’s farm is being flooded by an American investor who hopes to alleviate poverty by creating a multimillion-dollar rice farm. Across the country in Nairobi, Silva’s home and business in Africa’s largest shantytown are being demolished as part of a U.N. slum-upgrading project. The gripping stories of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development present a unique opportunity see foreign aid through eyes of the people it is intended to help.

Also in July, POV turns to Latin America with El General. Past and present collide as award-winning filmmaker Natalia Almada (Al Otro Lado, POV 2006) brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother, daughter of Plutarco Elias Calles, a revolutionary general who became Mexico’s president in 1924. In his time, Calles was called El Jefe Maximo (Foremost Chief). Today he is remembered as El Quema-Curas (Priest Burner) and as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until his exile in 1936. Airing during the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, El General moves between a daughter’s memories as she grapples with history’s portrayal of her father and the weight of his legacy on Mexico today.
Presumed Guilty, a film by Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete, tells a harrowing tale of a justice system turned on its head. Imagine being picked up off the street, told you have committed a murder you know nothing about and then finding yourself sentenced to 20 years in jail. In December 2005 this happened to Toño Zúñiga in Mexico City and, like thousands of other innocent people, he was wrongfully imprisoned. The award-winning Presumed Guilty is the story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free Zúñiga. With no background in film, Hernández and Negrete set about recording the injustices they were witnessing, enlisting acclaimed director Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon, POV 2009) to tell this dramatic story.