The Independent Lens Film Festival through our eyes

If you enjoy film half as much as I do, then you’ll want to check out the Community Cinema screenings.

Sponsored by “Independent Lens,” (an Emmy Award winning Public Broadcasting Station series) and produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Community Cinema is a program that screens films in over 50 communities nationwide between the months of September and May. Did I mention these screenings are free?

Community Cinema allows students and people of all ages for that matter, to convene and watch interesting, provocative documentaries.

But the appeal isn’t simply watching these intellectually-stimulating films in a group setting. No, the appeal is what occurs after each screening has ended.

After each screening, Community Cinema features special guest speakers, panel discussions with principal community-based organizations, information and resources—all with the intent of motivating the viewers to learn more about the topics and issues raised in the films.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a film and yearned to discuss it with another person.

This is one of the most alluring aspects of Community Cinema. Imagine seeing an awesome flick at your local movie theater, but instead of the audience walking to their respective vehicles and driving home, they stuck around and talked about the movie for a bit. It’d be pretty cool.

Pat Spurgeon from the film <i>D-Tour</i>.
Pat Spurgeon from the film D-Tour.

I had the chance to see one of these films, “D Tour,” by Jim Granato (director, producer, director of photography, coeditor). This film chronicles musician Pat Spurgeon’s (of Rogue Wave) search for a living organ donor, whilst he simultaneously continues to tour and remain an integral part in his band. From the opening line, spoken by Spurgeon himself, it’s apparent that he has a genuine passion for being a musician. “I love my drums,” he says.

As we follow Spurgeon, who has to perform dialysis daily on the road in between gigs, his passion for music never dwindles, and there’s something profound about that.

He had to keep up this routine for months while waiting for a kidney donor. With the rare “O” blood type and with a projected wait time of six years for a viable donor, there doesn’t seem much to be optimistic about, yet he remains motivated throughout—largely due to his dedication to music.

This poignant documentary examines what it is that makes life worth living and will undoubtedly affect you in some way.

The Community Cinema screening for “D Tour” has already come and gone, but don’t miss it when it airs on PBS Independent Lens on November 10.

Other upcoming Community Cinema screenings include: “Young@Heart,” which follows a chorus composed entirely of senior citizens from New England who sell out concert halls with their own unique covers of modern artists’ music and “Copyright Criminals,” which scrutinizes the debate about musical sampling in hip-hop.

To find a local screening that interests you or for further information on the topics covered in this article, visit http://www., and