October 01, 2007 03:00 ET

ITVS International's Global Perspectives Project Creates New Way for Citizens of the World to Engage in Direct Public Diplomacy

Unique Private-Public Partnership Developed to Meet Growing Need for Meaningful International Dialogue; Ground-Breaking Worldwide Media Initiative Coming to Screens Large, Small and Handheld, October 2007 and Beyond

SAN FRANCISCO, CA and WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 1, 2007) - The Independent Television Service (ITVS) announced today that beginning in October 2007 and continuing throughout 2008, nearly 40 programs created by independent producers around the world will premiere to audiences across the United States via broadcast on PBS and the digital PBS World channel and on major commercial channels such as Sundance Channel and National Geographic Channel (six broadcasters in all) and via digital distribution and mobile phone. To date, through its Global Perspectives Project (GPP), ITVS International has supported 54 programs representing 41 different countries. Funded by private foundations, the project aims to support and broadcast an additional 50 programs by international producers through 2010.

ITVS International has also launched "True Stories: Life in the USA," an outgoing series of independent documentaries by U.S. filmmakers, which is currently being broadcast on three different continents -- Africa, Asia and South America. The series aims to go beyond headline news and big screen blockbusters to provide more authentic perspectives of the United States and its people. If continued public funding for "True Stories" is secured, ITVS International aims to have the series broadcast in 35-40 countries by 2010.

"Americans and people in other countries need new ways to see each other," said ITVS President and CEO Sally Fifer. "They need a chance to hear each other's voices and see the world through someone else's eyes. The work of independent documentary filmmakers is authentic, in-depth, and personal, but it rarely travels across borders. We've put together the partners to open the doors, and bring people here and around the world new points-of-view they seldom see on television."

In 2005, in partnership with several leading foundations -- the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation -- along with the U.S. Department of State, the Independent Television Service created ITVS International to launch its Global Perspectives Project. The project's unique mission is to bring unheard international points-of-view to U.S. audiences, and to provide a platform for unheard U.S. points-of-view to international audiences via the medium of independent documentary film.

Through an unparalleled two-way exchange of television broadcasts, community outreach activities and online and other digital initiatives, the project aims to connect citizens to citizens, helping people in the United States and other countries see, hear and ultimately, to better understand each other.

"The Global Perspectives Project spearheads a fresh approach to building better understanding of America abroad. The program is successfully using quality television documentary film to introduce new foreign audiences to America and to build international social networks that will yield lasting results for years to come," said U.S. Ambassador James F. Collins, ITVS International advisory board chair. "Its arrival comes at a vital juncture for the United States and our place in the world."

The project's roots lie in the wake of 9/11 and U.S. military operations abroad, as diverse organizations began to search for new strategies to bridge a growing global divide. This partnership united private foundations committed to bringing more international perspectives to U.S. audiences; Congress and State Department leadership looking for new approaches to public diplomacy; and ITVS, a public media organization with deep roots in international public television and the global community of independent filmmakers.

In addition to these key partners, the ITVS International Advisory Board boasts a veritable "who's who" list of experts and pundits in the area of diplomacy and foreign policy including, Congressman Lee Hamilton, Professor Joseph Nye and Ambassador Edward Djerejian, as well as celebrity notables Danny Glover and Benicio del Toro.

ITVS International's Global Perspective Project: A Two-Way Exchange

1. INCOMING -- The project's International Media Development Fund (IMDF) provides production funding for non-U.S. independent filmmakers. The IMDF also works to distribute completed programs through public television and cable broadcast partners. To date, the IMDF has funded more than 50 documentaries representing over 40 countries.

Beginning in October and continuing throughout 2008, 36 of these programs will have been broadcast, with more commitments coming on-line regularly. ITVS International has established a network of relationships with both public and private broadcast outlets including PBS and the PBS WORLD digital channel and commercial channels such as Sundance Channel, IFC, National Geographic Channel, The Documentary Channel and LINK TV. In addition, ITVS International has developed distribution deals with digital and mobile outlets such as JAMAN, AOL, CURRENT and iThentic.

2. OUTGOING -- "True Stories: Life in the U.S.A." is the component that brings to other countries a series of documentaries made by U.S. independent filmmakers. The first season of "True Stories" was hosted by actor Benicio Del Toro and included 16 U.S. documentaries, which aired to enthusiastic public television audiences in Malawi and Peru in 2006-2007. Broadcast partners in Bahrain, Colombia, Hong Kong and Indonesia have joined for 2007-2008. If ITVS International is successful in securing continued public funding for the series, broadcasts are planned in a total of 35-40 countries by 2010.


The GPP is a unique and complex private-public partnership. On the private side, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have committed five years of funding to the incoming IMDF project component. On the public side, Congress has supported the outgoing "True Stories" project on a yearly basis through the U.S. Department of State, with the support of U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein.

More information about the project, full descriptions and clips of the films, photos and biographies of the filmmakers along with many other interactive features are all available online at the ITVS International Interactive Online Portal at

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Randall Cole
    Senior Publicity Manager, ITVS
    Email Contact
    415-356-8383, ext. 254

    Dennis Palmieri
    Director of Communications, ITVS
    Email Contact
    415-356-8383, ext. 256