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PBS to launch interactive media service ‘POV Spark’

PBS’s long-running documentary strand ‘POV’ is to launch an interactive media service that will produce and fund interactive projects for public media. Launching this spring, POV Spark will look to make ...
April 17, 2019

PBS’s long-running documentary strand ‘POV’ is to launch an interactive media service that will produce and fund interactive projects for public media.

Launching this spring, POV Spark will look to make emerging technologies and interactive projects accessible to audiences beyond expensive headsets and exclusive festivals. Overseeing the initiative and serving as its head of programming is Opeyemi Olukemi, executive producer of POV Spark and VP of interactive at American Documentary.

The initiative will kick off with three interactive productions that feature a range of storytelling through cutting-edge technologies, as well as two field-building enterprises designed to encourage artistic growth.

The three original interactive productions include Changing Same: An American PilgrimageThe Queen versus Godfred and Atomu (pictured).

Changing Same: An American Pilgrimage serves as an immersive time-travelling VR experience in which the participant witnesses the connected historical experiences of racial injustice in the U.S. The experience is created by Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster and Yasmin Elayat.

The Queen versus Godfred, meanwhile, is an interactive web docuseries that explores the story of 26-year-old West African immigrant Godfred Addai-Nyamekye, who was the subject of a violent arrest in Calgary, Canada. It was created by Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal and is a co-production with Lost Time Media, Big Cedar Films and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

Finally, Atomu is an AR/VR experience set amidst a Kikuyu tribal ritual in Kenya, created by Shariffa Ali and Yetunde Dada.

In addition, POV Spark will launch the African Interactive Art Residency as its first field-building initiative. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the residency will provide artists from Africa and its diaspora with the opportunity to experiment with digital and emerging media.

The second field-building enterprise, meanwhile, will see the revival of incubator program POV Spark Labs, in which designers and technologists will be paired with mentors and guided through the development cycles of their interactive productions. Those projects will later be considered for distribution via POV Spark.

“As nascent platforms continue to thrive it’s essential that public media not only asserts itself into this landscape, but leads with the same vision and quality that has made it synonymous with trust and editorial integrity,” said Olukemi in a statement. “Public media used to be the place for new and groundbreaking work and POV Spark is returning to these roots.”

In addition to the above-mentioned initiatives, the interactive media service will work with a variety of international producers, beginning with the NFB to produce Otherly, a series of Instagram Stories featuring documentaries revolving around the theme of belonging. The series is co-produced by POV Spark and the NFB.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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