Postcards from the Great Divide is a series of short documentaries about politics in nine states, produced by leading American independent filmmakers, that will be released in a digital partnership between PBS’ Election 2016 initiative and The Washington Post, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Latino Public Broadcasting, with a subsequent PBS broadcast on the World Channel.
Examining the deeply partisan split among the American electorate, the series travels to key locations across the US to help provide a greater understanding of how changing demographics and political self-sorting will continue to have a profound effect on American politics for years to come.
On July 11, the first five Postcards will launch simultaneously on PBS’ Election 2016 website and on The Washington Post’s political vertical The Fix, with star political reporter Chris Cillizza providing commentary for each piece. Later in the summer, four more Postcards will launch online and all nine will be broadcast on PBS’ World Channel.
Telling memorable stories with compelling on-camera characters, each Postcard being released in July brings a specific political issue to life, and provides an in-depth look at a specific demographic or partisan environment. Black voters in Florida hesitating to vote; urban and rural Minnesota residents distancing themselves based on political views; Wisconsin ex-legislators ruing the intense ideological splits that have turned the once congenial state into a partisan battleground; the challenges of getting Latinos out to vote in Texas; what happens when a million dollars of outside money gets dropped into a local school board race in Colorado. Stories like these come alive in the hands of a roster of talented documentary filmmakers. Each Postcard challenges conventional wisdom and guides the average viewer towards clearer understanding of the sometimes-mysterious ways political demography has become destiny.
Postcards from the Great Divide is brought to you by the award-winning team of Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, and Paul Stekler, who have been responsible for some of the most respected political documentaries of the past twenty years. They are two-time Peabody Award and three-time DuPont-Columbia Award winning creators of such films as Vote for Me: Politics in America, Getting Back to Abnormal, George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire, and People Like Us.
Postcards from the Great Divide is made possible by funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Latino Public Broadcasting.
The series is produced by the Center for New American Media and Midnight Films.
List of Postcards
MINNESOTA: The Big Sort. There’s a political self-sorting process that is happening across America. Blue voters are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods as red voters remain in rural areas. Minnesota native Aaron Spading, fundamentalist church-goer turned far-left Powderhorn Park resident, guides us as we explore one of those blue-dots-in-a-sea-of-red. Meetings with family and old neighbors illustrates just how deep the political gulf between communities is. A film by Heather Courtney, director of the Emmy Award winning Where Soldiers Come From.
TEXAS: The Giant Still Sleeps. Pundits seem convinced that a purple Texas is just around the corner due to its burgeoning Latino population, yet the state gets redder and redder. One factor is that Latino turnout remains low. Our study case is Pasadena, a city just outside the limits of Houston, where Oscar Del Toro is registering and motivating potential voters as he plans his own city council race. A film by Miguel Alvarez, executive producer of PBS’s On Story series.
COLORADO: Million Dollar School Board. A humble school board race in suburban Denver becomes a proxy battle between national political groups like the Koch Brothers and the teachers’ union, as even down ballot races become nationalized. We follow both right and left leaning members of the community as they tumultuously battle to gain control of the Jefferson County school board and by extension, the state of Colorado. A film by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, and Paul Stekler
FLORIDA: Post-Obama Drama. In 2008 and 2012 African-Americans in Florida turned out in record numbers for Barack Obama even when voting hours and registration rules were tightened. What are the challenges among the black electorate that the Democratic candidate in 2016 will face in this must-win state? To find out, we visit a number of African-Americans in the city, from a black chamber of commerce meeting, to a picnic of friends, and ending at a lively black heritage celebration. A film by Cyndee Readdean, producer of Freedom Summer, and Deborah Hardt
WISCONSIN: Whatever Happened to Wisconsin Nice? Once the poster child for bipartisan practical politics, the Badger State has become an ideological battleground in recent years. What happened to the middle? Wandering around the state to find out are former state Senators Dale Schultz and Tim Cullen–one a Republican, one a Democrat. Visiting a gun show, an anti-Trump protest, and a conservative talk radio gathering, they look for insight into what to expect for the state’s political future. A film by Brad Lichtenstein, director of the Peabody Award winning Across the Line and As Goes Janesville
Postcards about Nevada, Washington and two other states will be released later this summer.