My name is Diana Ingraham, and I am the Executive Director of Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital – a multi-purpose arts and cultural organization housed in a newly renovated Civil War-Era hospital, located on Capitol Hill.
We are new – we started operations in October 2011, but over that period of time we have screened hundreds of hours of documentaries – mostly sourced from public broadcasting -- to robust, diverse and interested audiences. As community screening partners with ITVS and POV, we’ve screened a good quotient of social issue documentaries.
Over the years, public broadcasting/media has squeezed the distribution options for independent filmmakers largely into the two, curated award-winning series – Independent Lens and POV. When PBS schedules these strands in prime-time – it sends a message/a statement that diverse and independent voices are critical to public media’s mandate as a valued part of our country’s civic engagement.
We do value our partnerships with ITVS and POV and hope that they will continue to be a source of high quality offerings. I worry that if the strands are marginalized, funding for independent social issue documentaries will become even more difficult than it currently is.
I’ll close with an anecdote about a small community screening we did of MAKERS: Women in Space. Our audience of 31 consisted largely of girls age 8 - 15 a melting pot of backgrounds – following the film they participated in conversation with two women scientists from NASA -- these tweens were able to pepper them with questions about favorite subjects in school, they learned that STEM fields are not just for men, about different programs that encourage young women to study science -- a few of the participants exchanged contact information with the scientists…overall a great program that was completely sparked by the quality and storytelling of the documentary.