“Family of Us: A PBS American Portrait Story,” a half-hour documentary produced from PBS’s crowdsourced storytelling project “PBS American Portrait,” will premiere Sunday, Aug. 2, at 9:30 p.m. on Arkansas PBS.
More information about “PBS American Portrait” is available at myarkansaspbs.org/americanportrait. Viewers may join and follow the conversation at #AmericanPortraitPBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to view the thousands of stories already being submitted. Arkansans who have recently participated in the project include Crescent Dragonwagon (uploaded by Michelle H.) in Eureka Springs responding to “I never expected…,” Andrea in Monticello responding to “At this point in my life…,” Geshe in Fayetteville responding to “The tradition I carry on is…” and Zelda in Conway responding to “Family looks like…,” among several others.
“Family of Us” captures a moving and meaningful picture of families in America today and the way these relationships shape individuals. Surrounded by a chorus of voices from user generated submissions from across the country, the program provides a personal look at two very different main stories that reveal how people value relatives now more than ever.
First is Lumiere R., a recent film school graduate, who moved to Griffin, Georgia, to help care for their grandparents and document their stories, as their grandfather’s dementia threatens to erase much of the family’s collective memory. Second is Amelia G., whose father was released from prison in February after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit. After months of delays due to the pandemic, Amelia is finally able to fly from New York City to San Francisco for the long-awaited reunion with her father.
The program will blend collages of user-generated content from around the country with deeper dives into a few main stories, where participants film and narrate their own lives.
The special is produced by PBS and RadicalMedia. “Family of Us” will begin streaming Aug. 2 on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App.
Arkansas PBS LearningMedia (myarkansaspbs.pbslearningmedia.org) will also provide teachers and students with educational materials focused on media and storytelling by pulling conceptualized clips from each episode of “PBS American Portrait.”
Launched on January 10, 2020, “PBS American Portrait,” a national storytelling project aligned with PBS’s 50th anniversary celebration, is the organization’s most ambitious multiplatform project in its history. A digital-first initiative produced by RadicalMedia, “PBS American Portrait” begins as a platform for user-generated content participation and is envisioned to encompass publishing, short form content, classroom engagement, a web miniseries, public art installations, live events and, in January 2021, a nationally televised documentary series. Leveraging the local reach of PBS through its member stations, “PBS American Portrait” presents a mosaic of the country’s diversity by connecting tens of thousands of people across the country, creating a communal voice through individual stories of joy, hardship, triumphs and sorrow. Participants will be able to tell and share their own stories, and see the stories shared by a wide panorama of Americans, united by a series of prompts that will serve as conversation starters, including: “I was raised to believe…,” “The tradition I carry on is…,” “What keeps me up at night is…,” “When I step outside my door…” and “Most days I feel…,” among others like, “I never expected…,” added in response to COVID-19, “Now is the time…” added to encourage people to share their stories about race in light of recent events.
Target is a major funder and national promotional partner for “PBS American Portrait.” Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Anne Ray Foundation.