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PBS to celebrate 1969 with special summer slate

American pubcaster PBS will explore the cultural and technological impacts that occurred in 1969 as part of its special summer slate. From gay liberation to Woodstock, the network will premiere new ...
May 2, 2019

American pubcaster PBS will explore the cultural and technological impacts that occurred in 1969 as part of its special summer slate.

From gay liberation to Woodstock, the network will premiere new special and limited series that look back on a turbulent time in U.S. history.

PBS’ nod to the summer of ’69 begins with a reprise of Stonewall Uprising from ‘American Experience’ on June 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The special gives audiences a chance to explore how a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, became a major turning point in the gay civil rights movement. Meanwhile, a decade earlier to the Stonewall riots sees the beginnings of the LGBTQ rights movement in The Lavender Scare. The film shares the untold story of how thousands of homosexual federal workers were either fired or denied employment in the 1950s – outraging the gay community. The Lavender Scare premieres June 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

On June 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, playwright and LGBTQ activist Terrence McNally will look back on his career during the premiere of ‘American Masters’ Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life.

Additionally, PBS will dedicate the entire month of July to commemorate space with its Summer of Space banner, anchored by the three-part series Chasing the Moon.

Elsewhere, those who attended the legendary Woodstock music festival are the subject of Barak Goodman‘s documentary Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (pictured), which will air on ‘American Experience’ on Aug. 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

“Our summer programming slate celebrates discovery, embraces pioneers and risk-takers, and encourages our viewers to explore new worlds and expand their horizons,” said Perry Simon, chief programming executive and GM of general audience programming, PBS, in a statement. “As America’s home for documentary film, we are excited to share 1969′s monumental moments through a creative and thought-provoking collection of new programs. We hope to ignite and inspire the next generation of leaders and visionaries.”

PBS’ summer programming also offers up an array of content focused on the worlds of the music, history and more.

Two decades after the tumultuous summer of 1969 in the U.S., Tiananmen: Seven Weeks That Changed The World looks at how China was forever changed by the student-led pro-democratic demonstrations that were violently put down, leaving thousands dead. Tiananmen airs June 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

As previously announced, PBS’ long-running documentary strand ‘POV’ will begin its 32nd season with Nancy Schwartzman’s Roll Red Roll, an in-depth look at the deep-rooted “boys will be boys” culture at the core of high school sexual assault in America.

In a first-ever co-production partnership, meanwhile, PBS and Smithsonian Channel will simultaneously debut When Whales Walked: Journeys In Deep Time, a 2 x 60-minute film that traces the evolution of numerous creatures, from crocodiles to elephants, on June 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The three-part BBC copro Rivers Of Life will explore the wildlife, people and landscapes that reside along the Amazon, the Nile, and the Mississippi rivers. The series premieres June 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The three-part series Family Pictures USA, debuting August 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, explores the country’s cities, towns and rural communities via the family photo album, while Australia’s wildlife is the subject of the three-part series Magical Land of Oz, which premieres Aug. 28 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Rounding out PBS’ summer lineup is Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music on Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, a historical account of the generational, cultural and geographic impact of bluegrass music.

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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