Arts & Theater

New Women’s History Month PBS SoCal Programs

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PBS SoCal, Southern California’s flagship PBS organization, announced this week a robust programming slate in honor of Women’s History Month in March. The lineup showcases 23 enlightening programs to increase awareness of women’s history in America as well as confront the most pressing issues facing women today.

The slate features the 12th season of beloved PBS drama series CALL THE MIDWIFE and the introduction of the new MASTERPIECE program “Nolly” starring Helena Bonham Carter on Sunday nights. The programming lineup also looks at Hollywood trailblazers, the Royal Family, and activists/artists with important stories about women who made a difference for women everywhere.

Locally, PBS SoCal will be hosting the world broadcast premieres of two new documentaries. They include BELLA, exploring the life of artist and activist Bella Lewitzky, as well as WOMEN OF FIRE, an in-depth look at the female candidates of the Los Angeles County Women’s Fire Prep Academy.

BELLA is about the life, influence and impact of California-based artist and activist Bella Lewitzky. As a talented, strong, out-spoken individual, Lewitzky dedicated her creative life to protect the rights of every American. Awarded the National Medal of Arts, Lewitzky’s life demonstrates how a “uniquely Californian” artist with vision and tenacity can change the lives of her fellow citizens. The 90-minute documentary becomes available for streaming nationwide on the free PBS App on Wed., March 6 at 9 p.m. when it is previewed locally on PBS SoCal Plus. This will be just prior to the film’s broadcast on Thurs., March 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal.

On Thurs., May 16, at 5:30 p.m., a community screening event for BELLA will take place as part of the Reel Art Film Series at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale. There will also be a post-screening discussion and Q&A with the film’s Director Bridget Murnane. The Brand Library & Art Center is located at 1601 W. Mountain St. in Glendale. Parking and admission are free. For more information, call (818) 548-2051.

Immediately following BELLA comes another world broadcast premiere. WOMEN OF FIRE is an insightful deep dive into what it takes to be a firefighter. WOMEN OF FIRE highlights the passion of women firefighters, as well as the commitment and perseverance of perspective female candidates. Currently there are about 3,000 firefighters in LA County. But as the department passes its 100th anniversary there are still less than 100 women serving in the department. The Women’s Fire Prep Academy(WFPA) is the first program of its kind. Since its founding, the number of female firefighters in the LACoFD has doubled.

The 30-minute WOMEN OF FIRE documentary becomes available for streaming nationwide on the free PBS App on Wed., March 6 at 10:30 p.m. when it is previewed on PBS SoCal Plus in Southern California and just prior to the film’s broadcast on Thurs., March 21 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal.

PBS SoCal Women’s History Month content also includes documentaries that highlight women who have acted as trailblazers in Hollywood. First up will be premiere of JODIE FOSTER, HOLLYWOOD UNDER THE SKIN. The program shares the life and career of Jodie Foster. Her beginnings as a child model and her growth into a filmmaker.

Viewers can also dive into the life and career of groundbreaking writer, performer and subversive star Mae West in AMERICAN MASTERS “Mae West: Dirty Blonde.” Additionallyviewers can learn about the life and upbringing of EGOT Winner Rita Moreno in “AMERICAN MASTERS “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.”

To wrap up PBS SoCal’s month-long lineup devoted to women, three programs will debut on Thurs., March 28. These will celebrate the women of the Royal Family.  MARGARET: THE REBEL PRINCESS tells the story of Princess Margaret whose life reflected the social and sexual revolution which redefined the image of a modern princess. IN THEIR OWN WORDS: QUEEN ELIZABETH II then follows Queen Elizabeth II’s youth all the way through her reign of over 60 years. Capping off the night is IN THEIR OWN WORDS: PRINCESS DIANA, which takes a look back on Princess Diana’s life and how she evolved to be such an impactful person.

Select content slated to air during Women’s History Month is listedas follows (*schedule subject to change):

JANE ADDAMS – TOGETHER WE RISE: AMERICAN STORIES – Sat., March 2 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus– New!

This documentary profiles Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Jane Addams and the cadre of persistent women who joined her to enrich the lives of thousands of immigrant women and children, inspiring others around the world to follow their lead.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Coded Bias” – Sat., March 2 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus

When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers most facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces or women with accuracy, she joins the fight to expose the threats to civil liberties posed by an increasingly data-driven, automated world.

BELLA – Wed., March 6 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus and Thurs. March 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal – New!

A film about the life, work, influences and impact of California based choreographer Bella Lewitzky. Throughout her 70-year career, Lewitzky pursued artistic freedom and spoke out about government and institutional restrictions in the arts. The film features rare archival footage of Lewitzky’s performances and interviews with her former students and dancers,

WOMEN OF FIRE – Wed., March 6 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus and Thurs. March 21 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal – New!

Follow a group of female candidates through the Los Angeles County Women’s Fire Prep Academy.

As the women consider their future careers as firefighters, the film addresses how with almost 3,400 firefighters in the Southern California region, less than 100 women currently work for the department.

ALL WE’VE GOT – Fri., March 9 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus – New!

More than 100 bars, bookstores, art and community spaces where LGBTQ+ women gather have closed in the past decade. Travel the country to find out why these spaces matter and how some are managing to survive despite the odds.

WHERE I BECAME – Fri., March 9 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus – New!

This film traces the story of 14 women who left apartheid in South Africa to attend Smith College in the U.S. Narrated in their own voices, the women tell stories that range from understanding childhood to discovering themselves through the power of higher education.

JODIE FOSTER, HOLLYWOOD UNDER THE SKIN – Wed., March 13 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus –New!

This documentary follows the actress’s unique life and highlights her many accomplishments in the film industry. Featuring clips from her many productions, this retrospective cements Foster as one of the most significant individuals to have ever worked on both sides of the camera. From her origins as a child model and acclaimed young actor, she later transitioned behind-the-camera as a celebrated filmmaker.

AMERICAN MASTERS “Mae West: Dirty Blonde” – Wed., March 13 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus 

Dive into the life and career of Mae West who had a career spanning eight decades, broke boundaries and possessed creative and economic powers unheard of for a female entertainer in the 1930s.

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET “DEAD MAN WALKING” – Fri., March 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal– New!

American composer Jake Heggie’s masterpiece is the most widely performed new opera of the last 20 years. See the highly anticipated Metropolitan Museum of Opera premiere in a haunting new production by Ivo van Hove

FACING THE LAUGHTER: MINNIE PEARL – Sat., March 16 at 5:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus –New!

Small-town girl Sarah Cannon dreamed of becoming a Shakespearean actress; instead, she became famous as the class-act comedian Minnie Pearl. This documentary explores how her beloved character impacted American culture and how it’s still relevant today.

WITHOUT PRECEDENT: THE SUPREME LIFE OF ROSALIE ABELLA – Sat., March 16 at 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus – New!

The child of Holocaust survivors, Justice Abella has used her personal history to shape her legal career. She often intertwines her personal story with a discussion of human rights, morality and constitutional law.

ARTBOUND “Life Centered: The Helen Jean Taylor Story”– Sun., March 17 at 4 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus 

Renowned ceramicist and educator Helen Jean Taylor has not only crafted timeless artworks inspired by colors found in home gardens, but also helped her students improve their mental health through the art of throwing clay.

CALL THE MIDWIFE – Sun., March 17 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal – SEASON PREMIERE  All New!

Returning for its 12th season, the eight-episode season will follow the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House in 1960s East London, airing as part of PBS’s Sunday night drama lineup this spring. Viewers can watch the season premiere episode as Nonnatus House kicks off a new pupil midwife training.

MASTERPIECE “Nolly” – Sun., March 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal – All New!

Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown,” “Harry Potter”) stars as soap opera legend Noele “Nolly” Gordon, one of the most famous faces on British TV in the 1960s and 70s, whose unceremonious firing from her hit show at the height of her career was front-page news. A bold exploration of how the establishment turns on women who refuse to play by the rules, Nolly is an outrageously fun and wildly entertaining ride through Gordon’s most tumultuous years, and a sharp, affectionate and heart-breaking portrait of a forgotten icon. “Nolly” was written by Russell T. Davies (“Doctor Who,” “It’s A Sin”). 

AMERICAN MASTERS “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” – Wed., March 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus and Thurs., March 21 at 7pm on PBS SoCal

Discover how Rita Moreno defied her humble upbringing and racism to become one of a select group of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winners. Explore her 70-year career with new interviews, clips of her iconic roles and scenes of the star on set today.

ARTBOUND “Artist and Mother” – Sun., March 24 at 4 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus

Mother artists Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Tanya Aguiñiga, Rebecca Campbell and Andrea Chungconfront the stakes while exploring the realities of art and motherhood.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Cancer Detectives” – Tues., March 26 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sat., March 30 at 9pm on PBS SoCal Plus– New!

This dramatic story of the fight against cervical cancer revolves around three people. The work of these three true life savers slashed death rates of this previously unfightable cancer by more than 60 percent.

CARA ROMERO: FOLLOWING THE LIGHT- Wed., March 27 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus

Contemporary fine art photographer Cara Romero’s work captures Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective.

MARGUERITE: FROM THE BAUHAUS TO POND FARM – Wed., March 27 at 8:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus – New!

The half-hour documentary focuses on one of America’s most talented mid-Century ceramicists—a feminist and environmentalist in her time—and founder of Pond Farm, the annual summer gathering that trained a generation of American artists in Sonoma County, California. The film tells Marguerite’s backstory and how she rose to prominence at the Bauhaus, one of the most influential art schools of the 20th Century. 

COMPOSER: AMY BEACH – Wed., March 27 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal Plus

A pioneering composer, pianist and teacher, Amy Beach was a national symbol of women’s creative power and helped redefine the role of women in music.

MARGARET: THE REBEL PRINCESS – Thurs., March 28 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal

Learn how Princess Margaret’s life and loves reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed the western world during the 20th century and redefined society’s image of the modern princess.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: QUEEN ELIZABETH II – Thurs., March 28 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal

Follow Queen Elizabeth II’s remarkable life, from her youth to her uncle’s abdication, her father’s coronation as King George VI, her experience during World War II, her sudden ascension to the throne and her eventful reign of more than 60 years.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: PRINCESS DIANA – Thurs., March 28 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal

See how Princess Diana defied expectations and evolved into one of the most impactful icons of our time. Look back on her life through a contemporary lens that credits her choices, suffering and triumphs as the ultimate disrupter for a generation of women.

PBS SoCal’s commitment to sharing diverse and inclusive stories will continue in additional digital content exploring the impacts made by women in Southern California and beyond at pbssocal.org/WomensHistoryMonth.

For more information, follow us on social at @pbssocal

About PBS SoCal

PBS SoCal uses the power of public media for good, strengthening the civic fabric of Southern California and providing our community with an essential connection to a wider world. As a local, donor/member-supported non-profit organization, PBS SoCal programming is available to viewers on all key streaming platforms via the free PBS App and PBS KIDS App as well as over-the-air, via seven channels — including 2 primary broadcast channels, PBS SoCal and PBS SoCal Plus.

With a commitment to make content available anytime and anywhere for free, PBS SoCal reaches nearly 19M viewers in the region with programming that reflects the diversity of Southern California and showcases the full schedule of beloved and trusted PBS content spanning Education, News, Environment and Arts & Culture. PBS SoCal also sparks the sharing of ideas at in-person cultural events and community conversations as well as prepares children for kindergarten and beyond by bringing bilingual, hands-on learning experiences to the community for free.

Photo: Women of Fire. Caption: A group of female candidates train at the Los Angeles Fire Department as featured in WOMEN OF FIRE. (Image courtesy of PBS SoCal)

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