Friday roundup: Diplomatic showcase features PBS docs; WBUR gets $1M donation

By Dru Sefton

Charlie Pioche and Lurene Killip recall their resettlement in the Rocky Mountain PBS documentary Urban Rez, selected as one of 36 films to travel worldwide as part of a diplomatic arts program. (Photo: RMPBS)

• Several public media documentaries have been selected to be part of this year’s American Film Showcase, an international arts diplomacy program of the U.S. State Department. The 36 films include Urban Rez from Rocky Mountain PBS, which explores the involuntary relocation of Native Americans from 1952-73; The Graduates/Los Graduados by filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz, part of CPB’s ongoing American Graduate project; the short Listening is an Act of Love, the first animated film from the StoryCorps oral history archive; and When I Walk, about a 25-year-old’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which opens POV‘s 27th season June 23.

The showcase, in its third year, sends envoys on seven- to 10-day trips to U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide for screenings, workshops and conversations.

• Boston’s WBUR received its largest single donation from an individual this week when FUEL Education founder Robert J. Hildreth gave $1 million to expand education coverage. WBUR said the donation would extend coverage of education from kindergarten through college. The station will develop a team of education journalists, including a full-time reporter, a multimedia developer and a producer.

• Within hours, actor LeVar Burton raised more than his $1 million goal on Kickstarter to revive the iconic pubTV program Reading Rainbow, according to The Associated Press. The show, which Burton hosted, ended in 2009 after 26 years on the air. But Washington Post writer Caitlin Dewey points out that Kickstarter is “not supposed to be co-opted by companies with profit motives and private investors of their own . . . which, despite Burton’s charisma, is exactly what the Rainbow reboot is.”

• Conversation continues in the aftermath of NPR’s cancellation of Tell Me More. The National Black Church Initiative is asking its members to stop donating to the pubradio network. “This cancellation disheartens us deeply,” its president, the Rev. Anthony Evans, said in a statement. “Tell Me More is a brilliantly formatted radio program that showcases a multitude of viewpoints.” Also, New York Post columnist Naomi Schaefer Riley — in a piece titled “Let’s stop ‘talking about race'” — suggested that “Maybe audiences, black and white, have just gotten tired of these conversations.”

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