AintItCool - Published at: Oct. 6, 2015, 7:45 p.m. CST by Nordling
The Keeping Room was one of the first and best films I saw at Fantastic Fest this year. It was written by Julia Hart based on an idea that came to her when a friend recounted a family legend about two union soldiers buried in the yard of her farmhouse. Directed by Daniel Barber, it stars Brit Marling as a southern woman who must defend her home and ailing sister (Hailee Steinfeld) with the help of the family slave Mad (brilliantly portrayed by Muna Otaru) against invasion by two of William T Sherman's scouts (Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller).
It is unique to see a film that presents  a picture of the Civil War from the perspective of a small farming family rather than the traditional dichotomy of wealthy plantation owners vs union industrialists. This brings to our attention something that is an uncomfortable and unpopular fact, which is that the war caused the suffering of untold numbers of people in the south. Not just the slave-owning elites in their mansions, but women and children left behind when their sons and husbands went to war, the poor sharecroppers who did not traffic in human lives, and the slaves themselves (perhaps especially the slaves) suffered as Sherman's strategy of total warfare raided food stores, burned forests, crops, and homes, forcing the displacement and threatening millions with starvation.
As Marling's character Augusta in a powerful and revealing moment chides her sister Louise (Steinfeld) who has attempted to assert superiority over Mad, "We all niggers now". Never wealthy, but once well-off, the family has been broken by the death of their mother to illness and conscription of their father and brother into the Confederate army. As the events of the film unfold, the relationship between the petulant Louise and Mad evolves poignantly through their shared experiences as childhood victims of white men, and Otaru's monologue as she recounts the horror of her youth is as worthy as any Oscar-winning performance I have ever seen. Hart's script makes no bones about the real monsters in the south.
Finally, I should make note of Sam Worthington's performance here which is a career-best. As loathsome as his character's deeds are, he manages to almost make you like him before his work is done. I'm afraid you'll have to see to understand. I think few people saw this at the fest, and fewer still were talking about it, but I was very pleased to see Drafthouse Films distributing it. I feel it is one of their most powerful releases to date.

WASHINGTON, DC, September 8, 2015 – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS have received a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. The grant will provide $19 million in year one of a five-year grant to fund CPB and PBS’ innovative science and literacy media initiative to support the learning needs of children in low-income communities.

In their recent “Kids Count” survey, the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 54% of America’s 3 and 4-year-olds do not have the opportunity to attend preschool. Through the grant-funded project, CPB and PBS will build on decades of success in developing and distributing content and resources that have been proven to meet the critical school readiness needs of America’s children. Nielsen confirms that PBS stations reach more children ages 2-8 and more children in low-income homes than any other children’s TV network, which makes PBS local stations powerful partners in ensuring access to educational resources.

“Public media, provided free of charge and commercial-free to all Americans, is committed to utilizing our high-quality educational content to help children succeed in school,” said Pat Harrison, President and CEO for CPB. “Through this investment by the Department of Education, we can help children in high-poverty neighborhoods have access to research-based educational content, preparing them to learn, and setting them on a path to become American graduates.”

“The grant will help PBS further our commitment to using the power of media to help all children succeed in school and in life, with community-based support through local stations for kids who are most at-risk,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO, PBS. “We are grateful to the Department of Education for this critical support in creating innovative, connected learning experiences across media platforms that help young learners develop skills in science and literacy, two areas that are fundamental to academic achievement.”

CPB and PBS will work with experts in early learning to create new science and literacy-based programming, mobile apps and online games. The grant will fund new content for PBS KIDS series such as THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! and READY JET GO!. PBS KIDS will also develop a variety of new media properties as part of this effort, focused on scientific inquiry and literacy. CPB and PBS will leverage this content to develop personalized learning experiences for children and provide meaningful data to parents, caregivers and teachers.

A key piece of the grant will provide resources to PBS stations to establish community-based networks of strategic local and national partnerships devoted to early learning, focused on disadvantaged children and families. The first phase of work will take place in 11 high-need communities in partnership with PBS stations: Austin, TX (KLRU); Boston, MA (WGBH); Cleveland, OH (WVIZ/PBS ideastream); Cookeville, TN (WCTE); Detroit, MI (Detroit Public Television); Jackson, MS (Mississippi Public Broadcasting); Lexington, KY (Kentucky Educational Television); Los Angeles, CA (PBS SoCaL); Pittsburgh, PA (WQED); Tacoma, WA (KBTC); and Tallahassee, FL (WFSU). Station partnerships will include schools, public libraries, science centers, health clinics and housing agencies that serve high-need populations.

CPB and PBS will work with producers to develop multiplatform content, including: Random House Children’s Entertainment, WGBH and Wind Dancer Films. Key partners include the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the School of Education at Boston University, as well as national advisors from a wide range of organizations dedicated to supporting the early learning needs of children, families and educators.

CPB will work with the Educational Development Center (EDC) and a consortium of research partners to develop a multi-year research plan. As part of the plan,independent researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of the innovative resources developed under the project, and their impact on supporting school readiness for children, families and communities. 

CPB and PBS will build on previously funded work that research has proven to help narrow the achievement gap for children ages 2-8. Third-party studies of content developed through the previous grants show that children exposed to PBS KIDS resources – including Ready To Learn-funded series PEG + CAT and ODD SQUAD – improve in math skills such as counting, recognizing shapes, predicting patterns and problem-solving. Research also shows that usage of this content across media platforms significantly supports children's early math learning, while increasing family engagement and enhancing educator effectiveness.


About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.


About PBS

PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and over 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About The Ready To Learn Initiative
The Ready To Learn Initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach and research on educational effectiveness.  


Letitia King, CPB,, (202) 879-9658

Maria Vera, PBS,, (703) 739-3225

The contents of this release were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. [PR/Award No. U295A100025, CFDA No. 84.295A]

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June 29, 2015 by Patrick Callan

London’s CAKE Entertainment has picked up worldwide distribution rights outside of North America to new PBS KIDS series Ready Jet Go!

Created by Craig Bartlett (Dinosaur Train, Hey Arnold!) and produced/financed by Wind Dancer Films (Home Improvement, Roseanne) with help from the scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this 3D-animated series is set to premiere in the US next February 15. Its goal is to help kids ages three to eight learn more about astronomy, science and technology, and features unique visuals and upbeat songs.

The show stars two young science enthusiasts who befriend the new kid on their street, Jet Propulsion, whose family is decidedly alien. Jet takes his new pals on adventures exploring the solar system, but he always makes sure they’re home in time for dinner.

CAKE will introduce Ready Jet Go! (40 x half hours, bolstered by a website, app and interstitial videos for broadcast and digital platforms) at MIPCOM this October, along with Rovio Entertainment’s three Angry Birds animated series, which it picked up earlier this month.

Read More at Kidscreen