The Calling is a groundbreaking four-hour PBS documentary series and community engagement campaign that follows the stories of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim Americans who are training for religious leadership. It takes viewers into the unknown world of seminaries to reveal the real people "behind the robes." The Calling aired nationally on the ITVS/PBS series Independent Lens on December 20th and 21st, 2010. Purchase The Calling now through PBS or download it from I-Tunes.
The Calling’s companion national digital and community engagement campaign, What’s Your Calling? (WYC), explores the notion of “calling” from both religious and secular perspectives through a variety of rich media and written commentary. Through this content and user commentary, WYC engages participants in conversations about why and how people are following their “calls”, seeking to make the world a better place through art, politics, business, music, aid, sports, medicine, philanthropy, media, religious leadership, and beyond. WYC will also provide participants with opportunities to take action around the issues and causes they feel called to by connecting with WYC partner organizations that focus on service and leadership. The What’s Your Calling? is a partnership between The Kindling Group, See3 Communications, Active Voice and ITVS.
The Calling is produced with the support of the from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Henry Luce Foundation, the Hartley Film Foundation, Pacific Islanders in Communications, the Irving Harris Foundation, Samuel Zell Foundation, National Black Programming Consortium, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Zarrow Family Foundation.
Series Director & Executive Producer | Daniel Alpert
Editor & Co-Producer | Susanne Suffredin
Directors | Yoni Brook, Alicia Dwyer, Musa Syeed, Maggie Bowman
Co-Producer | Beth Sternheimer
ITVS Executive Producer | Sally Jo Fifer
Original Music | Califone
PAST PRODUCTIONS: DO NO HARM
Do No Harmtells the incredible and often outrageous story of two men in a small, southern town who endured relentless attacks in order to draw national attention to the plight of the medically uninsured and bring about reform.
“I couldn't hire enough staff to know where all of the skeletons are buried. We need whistleblowers,” says Sen. Charles Grassley of Dr. John Bagnato and Charles Rehberg, who exposed significant unethical practices towards uninsured patients at Phoebe Putney Hospital, a non-profit hospital in Georgia. They uncovered millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts and lucrative for-profit businesses under the control of the non-profit hospital. Board members held exclusive contracts with the hospital and politicians received timely contributions. And shockingly – it was all legal.
Do No Harmfollows the stories of these unlikely activists who sacrificed much in order to expose and rectify injustices in the non-profit hospital system.
Since the dawn of history, humanity has wrestled with the question of God. To answer this universal query, billions have turned to the three major monotheistic faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Monotheists believe that a single being or force is at the center of all things - an entity above and apart from all others whose works underlie every phenomenon. This being, essence, force or idea is known by many names - among them Yahweh, Al-lah or simply God.
A History of Godis an extraordinary feature-length film, based on Karen Armstrong's acclaimed book of the same name, which traces the fascinating quest for God from its roots in the ancient world through the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
This thought-provoking look at the heart of these three great religions reveals the commonalities between their understandings of God as well as the profound differences between them.
Through balanced analysis of historic and holy texts and extensive use of ancient art and artifacts, A History of God reveals the long road to today's understanding of God and what the journey - and the destination - tells us about humanity and its never-ending search for a meaning to existence beyond itself.
PAST PRODUCTIONS: I GOT WHAT IT TAKES
I Got What It Takes explores the life of 70-year-old Chicago blues legend Koko Taylor, her place in the history of the blues and the complexities of who she has become today.
This film follows Taylor from her dirt poor upbringing on a sharecropper's farm to her arrival in Chicago in 1953 at the tail end of the "Great Migration" of Blacks from the south; from her greatest hit, "Wang Dang Doodle," which placed her in the company of blues greats Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to the hard days that followed the decline of the blues when she cleaned houses to make ends meet; and, finally, to her comeback.
I Got What It Takes tells the story of the self-reliance and determination of the woman who reigned as the "Queen of the Blues."
PAST PRODUCTIONS: A DOULA STORY
A Doula Story documents one woman’s fierce commitment to empower pregnant teenagers with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident nurturing mothers. A woman of remarkable magnetism and complexity, Loretha Weisinger returns to the same disadvantaged neighborhood, where she once struggled as a teen mom. She uses compassion and humor to teach the young mothers-to-be about everything from the importance of breast-feeding and reading to their babies to the practical details of communicating effectively with health care professionals.
Teenage pregnancy is a fact of American life. Nearly 10 percent of births in this country are to teens, many of them poor, uneducated and alone. A community doula (from the Greek word for birth attendant) for more than 10 years, Loretha knows that pregnant teens need guidance and education, not judgment or pity. In the face of overwhelming challenges—from absentee fathers and drug addiction to the disparagement of society—doulas are making a difference in the futures of young mothers and their babies.
On any given night, over 671,857 people sleep without a home to call their own. @home is a multiplatform media project, including a feature-length documentary film and a web campaign, that tells many such stories through the eyes of one formerly homeless man, as he explores innovative responses to this urgent crisis across the country.
Mark Horvath is one of the millions who has been affected by homelessness. Drawing on his firsthand experience of being homeless twice, Mark created the website InvisiblePeople.tv, on which he posts raw, unedited testimony of the homeless men, women and children he meets across America. In 2010, Mark drove over 11,000 miles across the country, meeting homeless individuals and making videos of the people he meets. @home follows Mark as he sets out on his 2010 road tour. Mark guides us as we explore the stories of individuals whose lives have become ones of survival: former soccer moms, men destroyed by addiction, children moved constantly from relatives to shelters to sleeping in cars and on the streets. We meet homeless populations overlooked in the media and by service organizations; families, gays and lesbians, and homeless populations in small towns and rural America. .
Social media has been the backbone of Mark’s campaign. He has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter, and his videos have been viewed by millions on YouTube, which dedicated its homepage to the fight against homelessness in 2010. His work is shifting perceptions, engaging people nationwide, and delivering a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations, and everyday citizens.
But this is not just a story about the plight of homelessness.@home is also a story of Mark’s own struggle with homelessness. His reflections as he journeys from town to town provide a through line for the film: his struggle to the cover the monthly bills as well as the challenge of creating an organization that will thrive beyond his own work. We stop in St. Louis, where Mark’s crisis began, and in Binghamton, to visit Mark’s mother, from whom he inherited his fighting spirit. A complex man, Mark provides a nuanced perspective during this quest.
The documentary @home and its multiplatform engagement campaign will raise awareness of homelessness issues and explore what’s working and what’s not in the world of services provided to the homeless. The campaign will bring the importance of finding and funding long-term strategies to reduce homelessness to the general public but is especially focused in reaching educators, health and social service providers, policymakers, and elected officials.
IN PRODUCTION: THE LEAGUE OF AFGHANISTAN
Two years ago, Jess Markt, a Brooklyn-based paraplegic and wheelchair basketball player for the New York Rollin’ Knicks, answered an open call for an experienced American player to teach the game of wheelchair basketball in a little town called Maimana. Maimana, Afghanistan.
All he knew of this country were the endless US news reports depicting a land ravaged by war: suicide bombers, men in black turbans raising Kalashnikovs, women covered from head to toe in burkas. The men Jess coached on this trip would teach him there is much more to Afghanistan and its people than what was being shown to the world. This simple trip had turned into something much larger: an opportunity to help rebuild the spirit of an entire community of men.
In 2012, despite the ever-increasing danger and growing unrest as the American presence in the region dwindles, Jess will return to Afghanistan and attempt to bring a true wheelchair basketball league to the country – the first fully organized sports league for disabled men and women the country has ever seen.
IN PRODUCTION: SISTER
What does it mean for the sisters to be both devoted to and in conflict with a powerful religious institution? Feminists in a patriarchal faith? Why stay? SISTER, directed by Rebecca Parrish and produced by Nicole Bernadi-Reis, follows three extraordinary nuns who faithfully honor their vow of obedience to God, even when it means angering the Church hierarchy.
The film depicts not only the nuns’ struggles but also their joyful irreverence. Sister Chris Schenk travels from parish to parish, organizing everyday Catholics to advocate for more inclusive Church governance. During Pope Francis’ election, Chris travels to Rome to visit sites of secret women leaders from early Christianity and to advocate for modern women’s equality. Sister Jean Hughes is tough and self-possessed. Jean works in Chicago’s West Side, providing services for men and women re-entering society after leaving prison. When faced with a mysterious illness and her own mortality, Jean encounters a new understanding of God and a calling to stand up to the Vatican. And Sister Simone Campbell, a savvy lobbyist and attorney, works in the public spotlight. After publicly opposing U.S. Bishops by supporting healthcare reform, her organization is named in the Vatican’s censure of American nuns. Simone overcomes her fears and organizes a Nuns on the Bus cross-country tour, leveraging her notoriety from the censure to spotlight social needs.
As Simone says, “The Holy Spirit is making mischief!” SISTER is a universal story about the strength of the human spirit vs. a powerful institution.