The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

Awards


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  • 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School
    2013
    180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School

    Washington Metropolitan, aka DC Met, has all the problems a modern American high school can have: truancy, teen pregnancy, homelessness, violent crime. Getting in the front door is like going through airport security. Ninety-seven percent of the kids are classified as “economically disadvantaged.” Fewer than half are reading or doing math at grade level. Yet 180 Days, chronicling a year in the life of this inner-city school, is actually an encouraging documentary. Its optimism, far from blind, starts with DC Met’s savvy, upbeat principal, Tanishia Williams Minor, and extends through her faculty, both pragmatic veterans and anxious upstarts, and some... read more

  • A Chef’s Life
    2013
    A Chef’s Life

    A Chef’s Life disregards the usual recipes for television shows about restaurants and cooking. Neither over-seasoned nor overheated, it presents an honest, ongoing look at the ups and downs of a farm-to-fork restaurant in low country eastern North Carolina that is operated by chef Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight. It’s not without drama –- a nasty kitchen fire early in the series’ run nearly sinks their young enterprise –- but A Chef’s Life is mainly an affectionate, detailed survey of Southern cuisine both traditional and nouvelle, and the folks who provide the ingredients. Apart from its fresh... read more

  • A Needed Response
    2013
    A Needed Response

    The first viral video to be honored with a Peabody Award, A Needed Response grew out of two University of Oregon students’ outrage upon watching news coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape sentencing that bemoaned the perpetrators’ loss of their promising athletic careers while ignoring the 16-year-old girl they had drugged and assaulted. Samantha Stendal and Aaron Blanton conceived, staged and shot a 26-second video that emphatically rejects the idea that rape is ever excusable. Short, simple and spot-on, it’s an ingenious public-service message targeting college age viewers. Stendal and Blanton shared their video on Upworthy’s Facebook page. Within 48... read more

  • A Short History of the Highrise
    2013
    A Short History of the Highrise

    An ingeniously constructed interactive documentary, A Short History of the Highrise allows website visitors to tour 2,500 years of “vertical living,” from the Tower of Babel to turn-of-the-20th Century New York City tenements to luxury skyscrapers in modern Shanghai. An Op-Docs production of The New York Times, the website is also part of the Film Board of Canada’s ongoing highrise project. Writer-director Katernia Cizek mined the Times’ vast morgue of photographs for images, supplementing those vintage child’s pop-up book. Tall buildings sprout like mushrooms on urban landscape or collapse like accordions to reveal ancient ruins. They’re used in three short,... read more

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
    2013
    Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

    Though Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is sometimes referred to as a “culinary travelogue,” the shorthand doesn’t do the series justice. Bourdain, who first made his name as a chef does seem obsessed with discovering new taste sensations. But wherever his appetite takes him, it’s the side-dish stories that make his visits so memorable and nourishing. Apart from his knowledge of food and cooking, he’s comfortable with himself and with other people, whether he’s surveying Tokyo’s freaky afterhours scene, meeting whitewater fishermen on the Congo River, or waltzing into the house behind Greedy Greg’s sidewalk rib stand in Detroit to get... read more

  • Borgen
    2013
    Borgen

    In light of the acrimonious state of American politics and the jaundiced TV dramas to which it has given rise, Borgen could appear almost naïve in its determination to find traces of altruism in the exercise of politics. But this astute, pitch-perfect Danish series earned its occasional optimism at every realistic turn. There are no Machiavellian masters at the center of its plot. The intrigue, schemes and actions flow naturally and believably from a story arc that has comfortably spanned three seasons. Borgen (a Danish colloquialism for “government”) weaves insightful views of parliamentary politics and governance with the daily lives... read more

  • Breaking Bad
    2013
    Breaking Bad

    When Breaking Bad won its first Peabody Award in 2008, the winner’s citation points to a conflicted Walter White, a man facing “moral questions [that] become more and more difficult for him — and the audience.” How far we’ve come since then. In the final stretch of eight episodes that aired in 2013, the time for moral questioning has passed. Walter White has completely taken on the role of the show’s villain as the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, makes good on his promise to utterly transform Walter White from Mr. Chips into Scarface. Sticking the landing for a television show... read more

  • Broadchurch
    2013
    Broadchurch

    Set in an idyllic coastal town in Britain, the eight-episode series Broadchurch revolves around the shocking murder of an 11-year-old boy, the emotional carnage that ravages his family, and the unexpected secrets that emerge among those whose lives he touched. From the flawless, marvelously cinematic opening sequence to the final revelatory climax, the series takes the viewer on an immersive journey, never overstepping its bounds nor sounding a false note. A troubled police detective, played to perfection by David Tennant, is brought in over the top-ranking local female cop (Olivia Colman) to uncover the perpetrator. Their prickly interaction as they... read more

  • Burka Avenger
    2013
    Burka Avenger

    In the Pakistani children’s series Burka Avenger, a symbol of women’s subjugation becomes a super-heroine’s mask. At the center of the action is a teacher, Jiya, who dons a magical cape at night to right the wrongs around her, from the ban on girls going to school, to child labor abuses, to environmental degradation. Taught by a spiritual master to rely on her own wits and to fight with a pen not a sword, Jiya is part Catwoman, part Muslim ideal. Never heavy-handed or forced, the storytelling unfolds with effortless charm as each episode amusingly turns stereotypes on their heads.... read more

  • Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombings
    2013
    Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombings

    Out in force to cover the annual marathon, both WBZ-TV and Newsradio 1030 had a journalistic advantage when the bombs detonated. WBZ-TV was the only local TV station covering the entirety of the race, positioning them to show the nation the unfolding tragedy from the beginning. Newsradio 1030 was also covering the event and switched to wall-to-wall coverage of the bombing scene and manhunt shortly after the explosions. They worked seamlessly with sister station WBZ-TV to contact sources in law enforcement and public safety to piece together what had just happened. Reporters from both stations spent hour after hour on... read more

  • Coverage of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan)
    2013
    Coverage of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

    Typhoons are a fact of life in the Philippines, but the usual warnings and procedures didn’t begin to prepare citizens for Yolanda (international name “Haiyan”). Likely the strongest in history, Yolanda not only hit the Visayas region with monstrous force on November 8 but, as if it had a malevolent mind of its own, the storm feinted and struck again and again, making landfall a total of six devastating times. The destruction was mind-boggling: more than 6,000 lives lost, more than a million houses battered or destroyed, total damages estimated at $1.6 trillion. Faced with daunting logistical challenges and sharing... read more

  • Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera
    2013
    Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera

    Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, a widespread cholera epidemic devastated an already shattered island nation, claiming nearly 8,000 lives and infecting more than half a million others. Al Jazeera America’s Fault Lines investigative team, led by reporter Sebastian Walker, cameraman Singeli Agnew and editor Warwick Meade, traveled to Haiti to follow the unfolding tragedy of this fatal illness. Their pursuit of accountability starts on the island but leads them to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Through relentless inquiry and a growing body of scientific evidence, they determined that the UN Stabilizing Mission peacekeepers almost certainly brought the disease into... read more

  • Fault Lines: Made in Bangladesh
    2013
    Fault Lines: Made in Bangladesh

    Examining the story behind a factory fire that killed at least 112 people, Fault Lines takes the viewer to Bangladesh to uncover the production practices of retail giants like Wal-Mart and GAP, and how they maintain low prices through human rights abuses. Employing a level of filmmaking that goes beyond what we’ve come to expect from American journalism, Made in Bangladesh gives the viewer a strong sense of what daily life looks like in and around these factories. In addition to providing this context and texture, the piece also masterfully investigates the corporate maneuvering that is known as an “open... read more

  • FRONTLINE: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis
    2013
    FRONTLINE: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis

    Drawing on the book of the same name, League of Denial crafts a searing two-hour indictment of the National Football League’s decades-long concealment of the link between football related head injuries and brain disorders. FRONTLINE writer, producer, and director Michael Kirk meticulously charts the uncovering of scientific evidence of the chronic brain disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and its relationship to football concussions. The documentary demonstrates not just a pattern of denial by the NFL, but also intentional efforts to repress scientific findings, discredit researchers, and create its own “scientific research” suggesting football is safe. Brain examinations of deceased college... read more

  • Great Performances: Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy
    2013
    Great Performances: Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy

    It’s hardly a secret that Jewish songwriters and composers, from Irving Berlin to Stephen Sondheim, have played outsized roles in the history of the Broadway musical. Yet this immensely entertaining documentary, by virtue of its rich, specific detail, still comes across as a revelation. With vintage film clips and fresh, instructive performances, it demonstrates how music of the temple and the Yiddishkeit, the Yiddish theater of early 20th Century New York, was repurposed into both the melodies and lyrics of songs like “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Or how Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart’s early... read more

  • Hanford’s Dirty Secrets
    2013
    Hanford’s Dirty Secrets

    The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, along a stretch of the Columbia River 200 miles from Seattle, is considered the most dangerous nuclear dump in the United States. The government made plutonium for atomic bombs there starting in 1943. Now it’s home to an underground storage tank “farm” that holds millions of gallons of toxic waste. KING-TV’s investigation documented how a tank leak, acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2011, went untreated for nearly a year by the contractor responsible for Hanford’s upkeep and security. Photographs obtained by KING’s Susannah Frame clearly showed the corrosive, poisonous ooze that could have... read more

  • Harper High School
    2013
    Harper High School

    At Harper High School in Chicago, twenty-nine current or recent students were shot in the span of a single year. Learning of this staggering statistic, This American Life embedded three reporters at the school for five months. Their in-depth reporting, with surprising access to staff and students, resulted in two radio episodes. The first focused on how the faculty and staff do their jobs in this setting, the second on how such a high incidence of gun violence affects the lives of the students who are regularly forced to grieve the loss of their peers, often tempted to seek revenge.... read more

  • Hollow
    2013
    Hollow

    Even if you’ve never been within 1,000 miles of McDowell County, West Virginia, you’ve driven through it. McDowell is a stand-in for thousands of American counties, once prosperous communities beat down by plant closings,natural disasters, technology shifts, or changing times. Its population, which peaked at 100,000 in the 1950s, is now down to about 22,000, but its remaining residents hang tough, camouflage aging storefronts with bright, cheery murals, open new businesses, keep faith, and savor the surviving pleasures of small-town, slow-lane American life. The website Hollow is an ingeniously constructed, interactive collage of McDowell County, an immersive experience, a digitized... read more

  • House of Cards
    2013
    House of Cards

    The American adaptation of a British miniseries, House of Cards tells the tale of Frank Underwood, a Southern politician and House Majority Whip whose thirst for political revenge and machinations for power are boundless. Kevin Spacey plays the perfect antihero ruthless yet charming, amoral yet seemingly in-line with the norms and practices of cut-throat politics. Robin Wright is beguiling as the ambitious other half of this Washington power couple. As Underwood breaks down the fourth wall, directly addressing the camera, he guides the viewer through a modern-day tutorial of Machiavellian politics. House of Cards popularized the Netflix model for original... read more

  • In Plain Sight: Poverty in America
    2013
    In Plain Sight: Poverty in America

    With 15 percent of Americans now living below the poverty line, NBC News recognized the urgency of covering what poverty looks like in the U.S. Its year’s worth of reporting on the topic of poverty coincided with the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of “war” on the national scourge. The stories gathered in this collection show us that this war is far from won. Some of these stories profile the collapse of cities like Camden, New Jersey, while other stories follow individuals who are trying to scrape by despite mounting obstacles. The series also looks at larger trends:... read more

  • Independent Lens: How to Survive a Plague
    2013
    Independent Lens: How to Survive a Plague

    When the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, better known by its acronym ACT UP, first staged protests in New York in 1987, the epidemic was in its sixth year. Most people who contracted the disease died. Drugs to stop or slow AIDS were nonexistent, research minimal. Hospitals rejected the dying, funeral homes refused their remains. Government and religious leaders tended to blame the victims. It was a dark time in more ways than one. How to Survive a Plague revisits that time, providing a defiant, boisterous, illuminating, and humbling retrospective of how some of the sick and abandoned took responsibility... read more

  • Independent Lens: The House I Live In
    2013
    Independent Lens: The House I Live In

    This comprehensive look at America’s war on drugs takes the viewer step by step through the staggeringly unsuccessful attempts to rid the country of illegal drugs. The filmmaker unravels the policies of the drug war that began during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, while also showing how drug laws have historically been used to incarcerate unwanted citizens. Switching between legal, political, sociological and historical analyses of drug laws that have disproportionately affected those living in poverty, the film also demonstrates that the war on drugs is directly tied to the collapse of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. Interviewing drug dealers, police... read more

  • Independent Lens: The Invisible War
    2013
    Independent Lens: The Invisible War

    Sexual assault is epidemic in the U.S. military. A female soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. It’s estimated that 26,000 soldiers were assaulted in 2012 alone. Statistics like these have never been documented more personally or powerfully than they are in The Invisible War. The documentary catalogues rules and conditions that perpetuate rape and protect perpetrators. But the film’s real power comes from a series of wrenching interviews with veterans still coping with the aftermath of vicious, shameful assaults. From the Department of Defense down through... read more

  • Individual Award: Tom Brokaw
    2013
    Individual Award: Tom Brokaw

    Notwithstanding his 22 years as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, tours of duty on Today and Meet the Press and his dozens of prime-time news specials, including a pair of Peabody Awards winners (A Question of Fairness, 2003, and Vietnam Ten Years Later, 1985), Tom Brokaw is arguably just as famous for a book he wrote. The Greatest Generation (1998), in which he celebrated the courage and resourcefulness of the men and women who served in World War II and overcame the Great Depression, was a huge bestseller and spawned a household phrase. Brokaw’s career in broadcasting... read more

  • Inside Syria’s War
    2013
    Inside Syria’s War

    BBC World News provided vivid, on-the-ground coverage of Syria’s civil war that presented viewers with the undeniable and horrific realities of that conflict. By following both the rebels and government troops, the reporters took you into the heart of the war-ravaged country. Searing images included fresh blood on the floor from a recently discovered massacre outside Homs; children hiding out in a cave, waiting for their mother to return; and civilians screaming and covered with burns from a recent chemical attack. This frank reporting of the unfolding story helped ground the political coverage of the Syrian conflict in the vicious... read more

  • Key & Peele
    2013
    Key & Peele

    For sketch comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, both sons of black fathers and white mothers, biracialism is liberation, a cultural all-access pass, a skeleton key to any lock they care to try. The duo impersonates a wide world of black men, from nerds to thugs, sports icons to buppies. They tackle racially charged issues and ideas like no one else on television. In their best-known recurring bit, Peele addresses viewers in the guise of a calm, carefully controlled Barack Obama and Key, as his aggravated id, Luther, barks what the President really thinks and feels. Fearless, they make a... read more

  • Latino Americans
    2013
    Latino Americans

    Latino Americans is a groundbreaking three-part, six-hour documentary series that chronicles Latino history in the United States from the 16th century to the present day. Through its thorough compilation of unwritten histories and interviews, the series provides perspectives that are often overlooked or outright discarded in this nation’s standard history. The different strands of people, politics and culture involved in the stories of early settlement, conquest and immigration are untangled and woven into a fair and more just understanding of the role of Latino Americans have played in America. The documentary further contextualizes Latino Americans in expansionism, Manifest Destiny, nativism,... read more

  • Life According to Sam
    2013
    Life According to Sam

    A scrawny boy with wire-rimmed glasses, a bald head and the gaunt face of an elderly man looks squarely into the camera near the beginning of Life According to Sam. “I put myself in front of you to let know you don’t need to feel bad for me,” he says. And you don’t. Indeed, for the duration of this superb documentary, you will mostly likely feel honored to be in the presence of Sam Berns. Sam is 13 when the film begins. With the help of his parents and friends, he is coping with Progeria, a rare disease manifested by... read more

  • Louisiana Purchased
    2013
    Louisiana Purchased

    In their exhaustive investigation of campaign finance in the Pelican state, WVUE-TV and NOLA.com revealed illegal activities, dubious practices and feeble ethics enforcement. The New Orleans TV station and the website, an arm of the Times-Picayune newspaper, devoted thousands of employee hours to sifting through almost a million campaign documents to figure out who gave how much to whom and what they got in return. One revelation was that nearly a third of the $209 million pumped into Louisiana campaigns between 2009 and 2012 came from less than one percent of the donors. What made Louisiana Purchased stand out even... read more

  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
    2013
    Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

    Mea Maxima Culpa investigates and exposes the atrocious crimes of a Milwaukee priest who sexually abused more than 200 deaf children in a school under his control. Through this disquieting story and others, Alex Gibney’s documentary explores the secret cover-up and the procedures enacted by the Catholic Church in light of thousands of sexual abuse accusations all around the world. The accounts and facts incriminate prominent and powerful figures within the Church, including Marcial Maciel Degollado and His Holiness, Benedict the 16th. Using photos, video and first-person interviews, the film pieces together past events to empower four courageous deaf men... read more

  • NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Questions of Influence
    2013
    NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Questions of Influence

    Assessing the practical impact of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s vow to “run state government like a business,” WTVF-TV’s reporters found that the outsourcing of government services in practice looked suspiciously like cronyism. Their year-long investigation, a series of more than three dozen reports capped by an hour-long prime time special, turned up ethical quandaries and instances of no-bid contracts. Among the questionable deals was a $330 million contract to Jones Lang Lasalle, a multinational corporation in which Haslam had been a stockholder. WTVF’s team also found that Haslam, without making the relationship public, was purchasing political advice from a prominent... read more

  • One-on-One with Assad
    2013
    One-on-One with Assad

    Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, is arguably the world’s oddest dictator, a supremely ordinary looking supreme leader whose milquetoast manner is wildly at odds with the ferocity of his efforts to hold on to power in the face of a popular uprising. His banality also makes him an exceedingly tough interview. Just convincing Assad to sit for questions was a major coup, the biggest “get” of 2013. CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose conducted the face-to-face session with exemplary gravitas and journalistic acumen, politely but doggedly pressing Assad about his one-time reputation as a progressive reformer and his recent savage military response,... read more

  • Orange is the New Black
    2013
    Orange is the New Black

    A prison is a place of confinement and restriction, but Orange Is the New Black found unexpected laughter, tears, conflict and camaraderie behind those mysterious walls. In its debut season, the series did an exceptional job of subverting our expectations of what a woman’s prison drama might be like. Orange began as the tale of a white woman whose life went sideways and viewers may have assumed that Piper Chapman’s (Taylor Schilling) discomfort at her prison life would be the show’s central thread. But creator Jenji Kohan had some tricks up her sleeve. She and her writers deftly wove the... read more

  • Orphan Black
    2013
    Orphan Black

    Orphan Black is a clone cyclone, a whirling dervish of a series that ponders identity, humanity, nature-versus-nurture, bioethics and genetic research – when it occasionally pauses for breath. Tatiana Maslany is a wonder in multiple roles, starting with that of Sarah Manning, a Toronto street punk who tries to shed a nasty boyfriend and a lifetime of bad choices by assuming a look-alike’s identity only to find herself caught up in a wild, noir-ish plot that involves a growing number of doppelgangers. It’s a sci-fi/mystery/cliffhanger serial, consistently surprising, with action so fast it can make your head spin. Yet it... read more

  • Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis
    2013
    Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis

    Despite its affiliation with the National Football League and a controversial split with public television’s FRONTLINE over editorial control of a joint investigation of the NFL’s concussion “crisis,” ESPN televised and posted blistering reports about the league and CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by head injuries. The concise, blunt coverage on the sports channel’s Outside the Lines series included a segment about the NFL’s efforts to influence the analysis of star linebacker Junior Seau’s brain after his shocking suicide –- a lobbying effort his widow charitably describes on-camera as “surreal.” Another poignant series of interviews... read more

  • POV: Best Kept Secret
    2013
    POV: Best Kept Secret

    The staff at Newark’s underfunded John F. Kennedy High School describes their school as the city’s “best kept secret,” and this documentary makes a compelling argument for why that’s the case. The school’s unexpectedly resourceful program for students with special needs provides a beacon of hope in a community ravaged by poverty and crime and with a disproportionately high autism rate. Frank, poignant, and never simplistic, the film immersed viewers in the world of teacher Janet Mino as she moved closer to her class of six young autistic males who were “aging out” of the program. When students turn 21,... read more

  • POV: The Law in These Parts
    2013
    POV: The Law in These Parts

    Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts examined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a new lens — that of the high-ranking military officers who constructed the legal framework for administering Israel’s 40-year occupation and rule. Through intensive interviews with retired military judges, prosecutors, and legal advisors, Alexandrowicz demonstrates how language and semantics are as much occupiers as military personnel and guns, and how the moral implications of such legal renderings may call into question a society’s core democratic values. From the inequality of military courts for Palestinians and civilian courts for Israelis, to the refusal of prisoner-of-war status for... read more

  • Reveal: The VA’s Opiate Overload
    2013
    Reveal: The VA’s Opiate Overload

    This investigative report discovered that over the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a 270 percent increase in opiate prescriptions at Veterans Administration hospitals, leading to an overdose rate among VA patients more than twice the national average. Veterans often need complex psychological treatments, and this report indicates that in order to deal with the increase in veterans needing help, doctors from the VA prescribed opiates to mask the symptoms rather than treating the root cause. In many cases overprescribed veterans believed that the dangerous amounts of opiates they are ingesting were safe since they... read more

  • Scandal
    2013
    Scandal

    Not many people could balance efforts to destroy an ultra-dangerous, super-secret government organization with running the re-election campaign for the President of the United States. But Olivia Pope is no ordinary crisis manager. As written by Scandal’s creator and chief mastermind, Shonda Rhimes, Pope is a smart, principled, accomplished and passionate professional woman, who just happens to be in love with the married President. Star Kerry Washington plays Pope as a wonderful paradox: a cynical power player in the nation’s capital who often wears her heart on her sleeve, especially when regarding Tony Goldwyn’s earnest-yet-calculating President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Thomas Grant... read more

  • Six by Sondheim
    2013
    Six by Sondheim

    In an ABC News clip included in Six By Sondheim, Stephen Sondheim, the celebrated Broadway composer and lyricist, tells Diane Sawyer he regrets never having become a biological father but says that “art is the other way of having children.” Six of his offspring, including “I’m Still Here” from Follies and “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George, figure prominently in this documentary, a marvelous mix of biography, musical showcase and music appreciation. Sondheim, seen and heard in excerpts from interviews that span seven decades, makes a candid, insightful guide to his own life and work. Writer-director James Lapine,... read more

  • The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
    2013
    The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

    Five years in the making, this extraordinary six-part documentary is the fullest television account of African Americans’ history. “When in the history of humankind has an enslaved people revolutionized the way the people who enslaved them ate, drank, believed, the way Africans did in America?” food historian Michael Twitty asks host and co-executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Many Rivers to Cross illustrates that phenomenon and much more. Gates, a distinguished author and Harvard professor, is a thoughtful, personable on-air guide. He is equally at ease interviewing men in Sierra Leone whose ancestors sold their fellow Africans into slavery as... read more

  • The Bridge
    2013
    The Bridge

    A murder that leaves a bisected corpse sitting neatly on the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, kicks off an inspired drama. The storylines here range from the struggles of law enforcement in a Mexico controlled by ruthless drug cartels to the grief of an American homicide detective with Asperger’s syndrome who lost her sister. Mexican actor Demiar Bechir shines as Marco Ruiz, a weary detective whose philandering ways eventually cost him his marriage and much more. German actress Diane Kruger is Sonya Cross, an El Paso detective with Asperger’s who struggles to understand emotions even while working... read more

  • The Central Park Five
    2013
    The Central Park Five

    Distinctly different in style and tone from Ken Burns’ stately historical documentaries, The Central Park Five has outrage simmering below its surface, and rightly so. It’s a needed continuation of the exoneration of five black and Latino teenagers who spent more than a dozen years in prison for a notorious 1989 rape before the real assailant confessed. Using archival video, photographs and fresh, first-person interviews, Burns, his daughter, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon demonstrate how the accused five, the youngest only 13, were relentlessly pressured into confession by some of New York’s finest interrogators even as the city’s TV stations,... read more

  • The Race Card Project
    2013
    The Race Card Project

    This project, headed up by Michele Norris, undercuts the political, pejorative meaning of the term “race card” by asking people to use six words to summarize their thoughts and experiences about race and send them in on postcards, emails, or tweets. Initially compiled on a website (theracecardproject.com), the descriptions eventually grew into a regular segment on NPR’s Morning Edition. A single six-word description such as “Ask who I am, not what,” “Mexican white girl doesn’t speak Spanish” or “My mixed kids have it differently” opened up complicated, vulnerable and insightful discussions about race that we rarely hear in public spaces.... read more

  • The Returned (Les Revenants)
    2013
    The Returned (Les Revenants)

    The Returned is exquisitely photographed and sensitively acted drama, but what really makes this French miniseries so indelible is that its creators take a supernatural premise and explore it with keen, objective intelligence and in meticulous detail. What would; happen if one day the casualties of a horrible bus accident began to reappear, un-aged, to the families and friends who are still mourning them, still arguing over how to memorialize them? What would it be like to be one of the resurrected, discovering that your girlfriend has moved on or your younger sibling is now older than you are? Why... read more

  • The Story of Film: An Odyssey
    2013
    The Story of Film: An Odyssey

    Mark Cousins’ history of world cinema, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, is an event in itself, a wide-reaching, insightful 15-episode documentary that examines and contextualizes work by directors from Buster Keaton to Akira Kurosawa, from Jane Campion to the brothers Coen. Using innovation as his unifying concept, Cousins paints a glorious and lavish picture of cinema’s cumulative development, including how filmmakers from around the world have not only pioneered but borrowed, even stolen, to advance the form and language. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) took Cousins’ work to another level, turned it into a cineaste’s dream. Drawing from its unparalleled... read more