PBS’s “POV Short Cuts” highlights civil rights heroes, Latino immigrants and families on August 9

sinpais PBS’s “POV Short Cuts” highlights civil rights heroes, Latino immigrants and families on August 9

The Mejia-Perez family before the parents’ deportation. Photo: Theo Rigby

PBS is often showing stuff that people really need to see, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to highlight more of their programming on Moniqueblog. For instance, the special one-hour documentary series POV Short Cuts includes The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, Sin País (Without Country) and three animated shorts from the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps oral-history project.

The one-hour special premieres on Thursday, Aug. 9  at 10/9 c on PBS.  The program will then stream on the POV website from Aug. 10 – Sept. 9. Here’s the official press release:


Sin País (Without Country) by Theo Rigby
Winner of a 2012 Student Academy Award®, Sin País (Without Country) explores one family’s experience as members are separated by deportation. Nearly 20 years ago, Sam and Elida Mejia escaped a violent civil war in Guatemala and brought their one-year-old son, Gilbert, to California. The Mejias settled in the Bay Area, worked multiple jobs and saved enough to buy a home. They had two more children, both U.S. citizens, and lived the American Dream.

Two years ago, Sam, Elida and Gilbert, all undocumented, became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system. Sin País (Without Country) begins two weeks before the parents’ scheduled deportation date. After a passionate fight to keep their family together, they are deported back to Guatemala. The film chronicles the Mejias’ new reality as a separated family—parents without their children, and children without their parents. (Length: 19 mins.)

Theo Rigby, Director/Producer
Theo Rigby’s work has focused on topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the justice system, and for the past six years he has been making films about immigration issues in the United States. His short films have screened in film festivals across the globe; Close to Home was a national finalist in the 2009 Student Academy Awards and won a Golden Eagle Award and special jury mention at the 2010 Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Rigby’s photographs have been published in Newsweek, The New York TimesNational Geographic France, People and many other national and international publications. His still photographs have also been exhibited at San Francisco City Hall and at the 2005 Visa Pour l’Image festival in France. Rigby recently graduated with a master of fine arts degree in documentary film from Stanford University.

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday
In the days before and after Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election, an 85-year-old civil rights activist and “foot soldier” looked back on the early days of the movement in this Academy Award®-nominated short. World War II veteran James Armstrong was the proud proprietor of Armstrong’s Barbershop, a cultural and political hub in Birmingham, Ala., for more than 50 years. Among his clients was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this small establishment, where every inch of wall space was covered in newspaper clippings and black-and-white photographs, hair was cut, marches organized and battle scars tended. Armstrong, who carried the American flag across the Selma bridge during the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights in 1965, links the struggles of activists of the past with a previously unimaginable dream: the election of the first African-American president. Armstrong passed away on Nov. 18, 2009, at the age of 86. An Official Selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. (Length: 21 mins.)

Note: Filmmaker Robin Fryday; Shirley Gavin Floyd, business manager for the Civil Rights Activist Committee in Birmingham; and James Armstrong’s grandson Darren Armstrong are available for interviews.

Robin Fryday, Director/Producer
Robin Fryday, born and raised in Chicago, is a photographer based in Marin County, north of San Francisco. Her career as a child photographer spans almost 20 years and is linked to a commitment to use her work to help underprivileged children. Fryday co-founded and co-chairs the Bay Area Heart Gallery, a collaboration between photographers and public and private child adoption agencies. Her photographs have been used to raise money for nonprofit agencies designed to feed and school the impoverished in Peru, India, Bhutan and, most recently, Haiti. Fryday also runs an annual photography camp designed to teach teenagers photographic skills. The Barber of Birmingham is her first documentary film.

Gail Dolgin, Director/Producer
The late Gail Dolgin was best known for Daughter From Danang, which follows a Vietnamese mother and her Ameriasian daughter as they reunite after a 22-year separation. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and won the 2002 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary. While working on The Barber of Birmingham, Dolgin, who had battled breast cancer for years, knew it would be her last film. She passed away in October 2010.

The Peabody Award-winning oral-history project StoryCorps brings intimate conversations among friends and families to life in touching, often hilarious animated shorts that are sure to strike a chord in all of us. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Facundo the Great – Ramòn “Chunky” Sanchez recounts how the new kid at school became a hero when his teachers could not find a way to anglicize his name. (Length: 1 min.)

Eyes on the Stars – Carl McNair tells the story of his brother Ronald, an African-American kid in the 1950s who set his sights on the stars. (Length: 2 mins.)

A Family Man – In 1955, John L. Black, Sr. started his job as a janitor for the Cincinnati public school system. He regularly put in 16-hour days to provide for his wife and 11 children. His son Samuel talks with his wife, Edda Fields-Black, about his father’s lasting legacy and the power of a look. (Length: 3 mins.)

Now on DVD: StoryCorps Animated Shorts is a collection of shorts featured on POV, from a heartwarming conversation between a boy with Asperger’s syndrome and his mom to two Brooklyn characters remembering how they fell in love to a feisty grandmother regaling her family with tales from her youth. Pulled from more than 40,000 audio interviews recorded by StoryCorps and archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, each story captures the poetry, grace and wisdom found all around us if we take the time to listen. Visit www.shoppbs.org.

What Next?

Related Articles