Institutional 2016

Institutional Award: Independent Television Service (ITVS)

If any organization can claim a foundational place in the flourishing of documentary film over the past generation, it is the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Conceived by independent filmmakers who saw a paucity of diversity in public media, ITVS was formed by Congress in 1988. Since then ITVS has had a broad transformative impact on the media landscape, particularly in public media. Viewers of films on American Masters, FRONTLINE, or American Experience may not be aware they are watching programming that wouldn’t exist without essential support through ITVS. Similarly, many films seen under the Independent Lens or POV banners are those to which ITVS has provided necessary financial and creative support. ITVS is also an innovator in digital storytelling through series such as “Futurestates” and has sustained work by public television’s minority consortia. ITVS established the model for using documentary film as a tool for community engagement and education, expanding the reach of films well beyond broadcast and into communities through projects such as “Women and Girls Lead.” Their support of emerging filmmakers through the Diversity Development Fund has fostered a new generation of creative voices. With more than 1,400 films funded and a staggering 32 Peabody Awards, ITVS’ output represents an accomplished range of work as rich as any broadcaster or funder. Landmark films within the Peabody canon include: How to Survive a Plague by David France; Marco Williams and Whitney Dow’s Two Towns of Jasper; Leslee Udwins India’s Daughter, and The Invisible War by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. These works remain as relevant today as when they were initially broadcast and have made an impact that is impossible to measure. In a time when public media is under political attack, there is no better time to recognize the vital contributions to public discourse and knowledge than that provided by ITVS. An Institutional Peabody Award goes to ITVS for its steadfast support of artists willing to take risks and for its commitment to finding innovative ways to share their vision.