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February 12, 2019

Meet the Governors: Lois Vossen

Name: Lois Vossen

Peer Group: Documentary Programming

New or Returning Governor? Returning

Describe your day job: Executive Producer, Independent Lens on PBS. Lois Vossen is the Founding and Executive Producer of Independent Lens, a weekly PBS cross-platform broadcast and digital series. The series broadcasts 22 original feature documentaries and 7 encores each season on PBS, while Indie Lens Storycast features short digital docuseries online.

Vossen is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series, working with filmmakers on content, editorial, and broadcast issues, and the integration of content for new audiences on non-broadcast outlets.

Independent Lens films have received 19 Emmy Awards, 17 George Foster Peabody Awards, 5 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Awards, and 9 Academy Award nominations. The series itself was honored with the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 International Documentary Association (IDA) Best Ongoing Series Award.

Previously, Vossen was the Associate Managing Director at the Sundance Institute (1990-1995). She helped grow the Sundance Film Festival and managed the Sundance Summer Labs.

She has served on the jury at SXSW, DOC New Zealand, Toronto International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, among others and is a member of the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Independent Lens co-funded and co-produced three award-winning films that premiered in the 2019 Sundance Documentary Competition: Always in Season, Bedlam and One Child Nation.

Past Independent Lens co-produced films include I Am Not Your Negro, The King, Black Memorabilia, TOWER, Newtown, Trapped, Best of Enemies, (T)ERROR, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, The Black Panthers, and The Invisible War, among many others.

Credits of which you're most proud: It’s impossible to single out a film because the independent filmmakers we work with are so talented, passionate and committed to telling important stories. I’m extremely proud of so many films; a few from recent years include I Am Not Your Negro, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, TOWER, The Invisible War, and I could easily list many many more.  

Why did you want to be a Television Academy governor? At our core, Independent Lens and ITVS have a mission to fund and present films that reflect the wonderful diversity in our country. That mandate helps us attract great talent and inspires a diverse body of work that speaks to America’s founding principle to “form a more perfect union.”

I aspire to help the Television Academy expand its diversity efforts to become a more inclusive organization and industry. I also want to give back to the documentary community that I’ve been a part of since 1990 and do what I can to make sure the important work of independent documentary filmmakers is recognized and supported because their work is vital to a healthy democracy.

What do you hope to accomplish as a governor? I very much believe that we need to reach diversity and gender equality within our peer group, our staff, and Board. We'll become even stronger creatively as we work to assure access, representation and funding for the disabled, and for members of the African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian American, Arab American, Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ communities.

Why is the Academy important to the industry? Our industry has tremendous power. We create and disseminate images and ideas that reach every household, every electronic device in America and around the world. What we produce, what we support, and what we elevate matters.

We know it’s important that people see themselves reflected in the media in a way that is thoughtful, authentic and inclusive. We need to see each other and know each other’s stories. 

Our industry can be a source of great entertainment and great good in the world — that's the power we have. As a standard bearer, the Academy has an obligation and a responsibility to represent the best of what our industry is and can be.

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