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Documentary By Ithaca College Alums To Make Broadcast Debut On PBS

ITHACA, NY — The award-winning PBS documentary series “POV” will air the broadcast debut of “Good Fortune” on Tuesday, July 13. The film by Ithaca College graduates Landon Van Soest ’04 and Jeremy Levine ’06 examines how international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit.

Van Soest is credited as the film’s director/producer, while Levine served as producer/editor. Check local listings for the “POV” broadcast time and channel, and for more information visit

“The film explores how the lofty ideals of Western humanitarians intent on solving world poverty play out on the ground in the developing world,” Van Soest wrote on the “POV” website. “Though the film profiles two Kenyans on the receiving end of foreign aid, it is really meant to be a reflection on us as Western citizens and the sense of paternalism we project on the developing world, even when we have the best intentions.”

“It’s our hope that the film can help advocate for more community leadership in development and local, grassroots solutions for Africa,” noted Levine.

Van Soest and Levine both earned their degrees from Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. They first teamed up in 2004 — while Levine was still an undergraduate — to make “Walking the Line,” a documentary about private citizens along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona who have taken the law into their own hands to try to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.

In 2005 the filmmaking partners established Transient Pictures, which has produced original content for such clients as the Sundance Channel, Working Films, United States Artists and the Dramatists Guild. In 2006 they cofounded the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a vibrant filmmaking community in their home base of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The production credits for “Good Fortune” include several Park School faculty members: Ben Crane, associate professor of television-radio, and Meg Jamieson, assistant professor of cinema, photography, and media arts, were creative consultants; while Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, associate professor of politics and past president of the Association of Third World Studies, served as an advisor.

“Good Fortune” won the Silverdocs Witness Award at the 2009 Silverdocs-AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival and the Fledgling Fund Award for Socially Conscious Documentaries at the 2007 IFP Market in New York City. It was a centerpiece presentation at the 2009 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and an official selection of the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Support for the production came from the Sundance Documentary Film Program, Fledgling Fund, Park Foundation, U.S. Fulbright Program and New York State Council for the Arts.

The filmmakers are currently working on “The Legacy Project,” a 10-part video series profiling theater legends including Edward Albee, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim; and “House of Rath,” a documentary about an eccentric home designer in the midst of New York City’s mortgage crisis.