PBS' terrific P.O.V. documentary series is set for 2009, and the 21st season boasts some very promising selections, including (as promised some months ago) recent Oscar nominee The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). The full list with synopses can be found on the comprehensive P.O.V. website, on which you can also watch full-length films from previous years and already sign up for email reminders for this year's showings.
The series starts this summer, but to whet your appetite here's the confirmed listing I just copied from my email (excuse the weird formatting). I'll chime in on the ones that immediately grab my attention, and I'll post another preview before the series begins in June.
June 23 - New Muslim Cool
* A Puerto Rican-American rapper from Pittsburgh who converted to Islam 12 years ago finds his new identity as a Muslim is increasingly challenged in a complex post-9/11 world.
June 30 - Beyond Hatred
July 7 - Life. Support. Music.
July 14 - The Reckoning
* A legal thriller about the International Criminal Court and the fight against the perpetrators of crimes against humanity (M. Night Shyamalan), war crimes, and genocide. This played at Sundance and might get a theatrical release this year, so keep an eye out either way.
July 21 - The Betrayal
* I've talked this one up for going on a year now. Find my capsule review here and find this Oscar nominee during its short theater run this spring or during its P.O.V. run in July.
July 28 - Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go
Aug. 4 - ( Encore): Johnny Cash
Aug. 11 - (Encore): Made in L.A.
Aug. 18 - P.O.V. Shorts Selection
Aug. 25 - This Way Up
Sept. 1 - Ella Es el Matador
* Women were barred from the sport of bullfighting in Spain until the walls of patriarchy gave way in 1908. The film profiles two women currently on the Spanish circuit, and if nothing else should offer a less bloody glimpse at the sport than a Hollywood feature would offer.
Sept. 8 - The English Surgeon
Sept. 15 - The Principal Story
Sept. 22 - Bronx Princess
November Special - The Way We Get By
* This documentary about three senior citizens who have spent five years greeting some 800,000 U.S. troops on their way to and from their tours in war zones around the world. It just won the Special Jury award at SXSW last week and there's a good chance it will hit theaters sometime in 2009. Of the P.O.V. Class of 2009, this would be my prediction as one that could get some Oscar attention next February.
January 2010 Special - Patti Smith: Dream of Life
* I missed this at MSPIFF last year but everybody I know who saw it loved it. My guess is that people who admired Patti Smith and her contemporaries would enjoy this more than anyone else (including me), but it could offer some solid music if nothing else.
Check back here for a more thorough season preview this June, and don't forget you can always watch full version of some past films on the P.O.V. website.