Documentary filmmaker Avon Kirkland didn’t follow the typical path to filmmaking – earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis and working as a research scientist and educational publishing executive before starting a career in television in 1972. Since then, his work as a producer, director, and writer has focused on creating films that explore the rich history and culture of African Americans and their contributions. His work has included numerous ground-breaking projects such as Up & Coming, a 25-part drama series about an African-American family struggling between working- and middle-class in San Francisco; Booker, a one-hour drama based on the childhood of Booker T. Washington; and numerous other films that aired on American Masters and public television including Simple Justice, Street Soldiers, and Ralph Ellison: An American Journey.
More recently, Kirkland played a pivotal role as executive producer of Sam Cooke: Crossing Over, on which he worked with producer/director John Antonelli to secure completion funding from ITVS. The film looks at the musical and political significance of composer, performer, and pioneering pop music entrepreneur Sam Cooke and the circumstances that led to his murder. Check out this video where Kirkland explains the impact and importance of the legendary singer.
From our blog
November 8, 2021
ITVS is pleased to welcome Antonia Carew-Watts as our new Vice President of Business Affairs. In her new role, she will lead a team focusing on strategic deals and relationships with the San Francisco nonprofit’s partners and oversee business and legal affairs across ITVS units, brands, multiplatform assets and events. In addition, Carew-Watts will…
November 2, 2021
Belly of the Beast, which premiered on Independent Lens in November 2020, exposes illegal sterilizations and reproductive injustices in California prisons. The film follows Kelli Dillon, who was involuntarily sterilized at the age of 24 while incarcerated, as she teams up with human rights lawyer Cynthia Chandler to fight for reproductive…
October 29, 2021
Remembering the life and impact of longtime ITVS Controller Michael Shiro, who died age 59 on October 22, 2021.