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"Mr. Chowder is incapable of writing a bad sentence." – The New Yorker


See a list of National Park Service films written by Chowder. →

  • Jamestown’s Dark Winter

    A 60 minute film, produced by Andreas Gutzeit of Story House Productions for the PBS series Secrets of the Dead — the brutal and tragic story of a young girl who arrived in Jamestown during the Starving Time.   The story now is in her bones, which tell of a gruesome fate called survival cannibalism.


















    You can watch the film here:


  • Rising Voices/Hóthaninpi

    RISING VOICES/HÓTȞAŊIŊPI, a 60-minute film by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey, was a production of Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc. in association with The Language Conservancy.

    Rising Voices/Hótȟaŋiŋpi. Five years in the making, this multi-platform project tells the story of a powerful threat to a Native culture. This threat is an insidious, impersonal villain – one that comes through TV sets and social media sites, through Tweets and comic strips and the daily news. The menace is the English language, and the victim seemingly marked for extinction is the Lakota language itself – the language of the Lakota nation, once usually called the Sioux. For the Lakota people, it’s a local problem, but it’s just one instance of a massive global one – a worldwide epidemic of language extinction.

    The film was broadcast on PBS, and received major sponsorship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Administration for Native Americans, the Dakota Indian Foundation, the South Dakota Humanities Council, the North Dakota Humanities Council and Vision Maker Media.




  • Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

    Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America, a 60 minute film by Florentine Films/Hott Productions, was produced and directed by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey.   Funders included the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, HSBC, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the C.E. & S. Foundation, the Peter C. Cornell Trust and Mass Humanities.

    The film was narrated by Stockard Channing.  It  had a national PBS broadcast, and can be seen in its entirety on the PBS website:

  • ANITA: a Doc film by Freida Mock, co-written by Chowder, opens to good reviews

    A feature documentary by Oscar winner Freida Mock has garnered good reviews in the New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Hollywood Reporter, and more:

    Anita Hill steps back into spotlight as subject of new documentary film – Boston Globe
    Alone Then, Supported Today – ‘Anita’ revisits the Clarence Thomas Hearings – NY Times
    ‘Anita’ revisits the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas Drama – LA Times
    Anita with host Ahmed – Huffington Post
    Anita Hill on the ‘Surreal’ Hearings That Changed Her Life and the Country – Hollywood Reporter

    The Hollywood Reporter calls the film “a riveting story… intelligent and comprehensive… a stirring personal as well as sociological document… a thoughtful and quietly powerful film.”

  • The Latino Americans

    Great Reviews for The Latino Americans, a six-hour PBS series — 200 years of Latino history in the U.S.

    Chowder was the Consulting Producer for the series, which in this case meant that he developed and structured the series, found almost of the historical characters, and wrote scripts for five of the six hours.

    [Below: General Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa during the Mexican Revolution, 1914. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division]

    The New York Times:  an important and enlightening three-part, six hour PBS series…. “Latino Americans” is the kind of polished, intelligent documentary series that PBS does so well.

    The Los Angeles Times: ‘Latino Americans’ is a stirring history lesson… a fascinating take on a diverse population.

    The New York Daily News:  The most ambitious TV production yet on the diverse group of people known in shorthand as Latinos also makes it clear that virtually every triumph was paid for in sweat, toil, tears and, too often, blood… This series is a combination of history lesson, documentary and sobering reminder of the often shameful way the United States was built.


  • Have You Heard From Johannesburg

    Have You Heard From Johannesburg

    Best Documentary of the year. – Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York; Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice

    This seven-part series chronicles the history of the global anti-apartheid movement that took on South Africa’s entrenched apartheid regime and its international supporters who considered South Africa an ally in the Cold War.

    A STAGGERING, PANORAMIC FILM-HISTORY of the forces that ultimately toppled the apartheid regime in South Africa. – Anderson Tepper, Vanity Fair

    Filmmaker Connie Field has worked on numerous dramatic and documentary films as well as independently producing her own work. Have You Heard From Johannesburg is being aired on PBS’ Independent Lens.

    One of the ten best films of the year. – Bill Weber, Slant Magazine; Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

    EXEMPLARY! A TRIUMPH. – Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice

    Almost 50 years ago, South Africans began to realize that their freedom struggle had to be built in four arenas of action: mass action, underground organization, armed struggle, and international mobilization. These documentaries take viewers inside that last arena, the movement to mobilize worldwide citizen action to isolate the apartheid regime.


    Inspired by the courage and suffering of South Africa’s people as they fought back against the violence and oppression of racism, foreign solidarity groups, in cooperation with exiled South Africans, took up the anti-apartheid cause. Working against heavy odds, in a climate of apathy or even support for the governments of Verwoerd, Vorster, and P.W. Botha, campaigners challenged their governments and powerful corporations in the West to face up to the immorality of their collaboration with apartheid.

    CRITICS’ PICK! ENGROSSING…EXCITING. – Bilge Ebiri, New York magazine

    This was not just a political battle; it was economic, cultural, moral, and spiritual. The struggle came to many surprising venues: it was waged in sports arenas and cathedrals, in embassies and corporate boardrooms, at fruit stands and beaches, at rock concerts and gas stations. Thousands died, but in the end, nonviolent pressures played a major part in the collapse of apartheid and thus in the stunning victory of democracy in South Africa.

    Like THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS…a manual on how to topple an unjust regime. – Larry Rohter, The New York Times

    The combined stories have a scope that is epic in both space and time, spanning most of the globe over half a century. Beginning with the very first session of the United Nations, and ending in 1990 – when, after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, the best-known leader of the African National Congress (ANC) toured the world, a free man.

    MANDATORY VIEWING! EXHILARATING! More compelling and instructive than any fictionalized movies on the subject. – Tony Pipolo, Artforum

  • The War of 1812

    The War of 1812A two-hour film about a war that should never have happened – yet almost broke the United States apart.

    For WNED and WETA (Florentine Films/Hott Productions). Scripting and Production funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    For two and a half years, Americans fought Against the British, Canadian colonists, and native nations. In the years to come, the War of 1812 would be celebrated in some nations and forgotten in others. But it is a war worth remembering—a struggle that threatened the existence of Canada, then divided the United States so deeply that the nation almost broke apart. Some of its battles and heroes became legendary, yet its blunders and cowards were just as prominent. The film shows how the glories of war became enshrined in history – how failures are quickly forgotten – how inconvenient truths are ignored forever.

    With stunning re-enactments, evocative animation and the incisive commentary of key experts, The War of 1812 presents the conflict that forged the destiny of a continent.

    Watch the trailer, watch the entire film or visit The War of 1812 on PBS.

  • Through Deaf Eyes

    Through Deaf EyesThrough Deaf Eyes, a two-hour documentary about the history of deaf people in America, was written for WETA and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, and funded by the Public Broadcasting System, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film has been broadcast nationally on PBS.

    PBS writes:

    Through Deaf Eyes is a two-hour HDTV documentary that explores 200 years of Deaf life in America. The film includes interviews with prominent members of the Deaf community, including actress Marlee Matlin and Gallaudet University president emeritus I. King Jordan.

    Interwoven throughout the film are six short documentaries produced by Deaf media artists and filmmakers. Poignant, sometimes humorous, these commissioned stories bring a personalized sense of Deaf life in America to the film. Through first person accounts and the film as a whole, THROUGH DEAF EYES tells the story of conflicts, prejudice and affirmation that ultimately reaches the heart of what it means to be human.

  • Beyond Hubble

    Beyond HubbleBeyond Hubble, a one-hour documentary for National Geographic, explores the bizarre world of outer space revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Co-written by Dana Berry.

  • Audubon: Drawn from Nature

    Audubon: Drawn from NatureJohn James Audubon: Drawn from Nature, a one-hour documentary about the painter and American icon for the PBS series American Masters (WNET) and Florentine Films/Hott Productions. Production supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. National PBS Broadcast.

  • Niagara Falls

    NIAGARA FALLSNiagara Falls: The Changing Nature of a New World Symbol, a one-hour documentary for WNED by Florentine Films/Hott Productions. National PBS Broadcast.

  • The Life and Times of Annie Oakley

    The Life and Times of Annie OakleyTHE LIFE AND TIMES OF ANNIE OAKLEY, a one-hour documentary for The American Experience and WGBH.

    Production supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. National PBS Broadcast.

    The New York Times review of this film can be downloaded here (PDF).

  • National Geographic: Dinosaur Hunters

    National Geographic: Dinosaur HuntersDINOSAUR HUNTERS, a one-hour National Geographic “Explorer”
    (Broadcast on TBS)

  • The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced

    The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced (photos)The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced

    THE HARRIMAN ALASKA EXPEDITION RETRACED, a 110-minute documentary by Florentine Films/Hott Productions
    (Broadcast on PBS)

  • John Brown’s Holy War

    John Brown's Holy WarJOHN BROWN’S HOLY WAR, a 90-minute documentary by Robert Kenner Films

    Broadcast on “The American Experience” on PBS

  • Tuberculosis in America: The People’s Plague

    Tuberculosis in America: The People's Plague

    THE PEOPLE’S PLAGUE: TUBERCULOSIS IN AMERICA, a series of two one-hour documentaries by Florentine Films

    Part I, The Captain of All These Dead Men
    Part II, The Gospel of Health

    (Broadcast on PBS)

    Tuberculosis In America: The People's Plague (photo)

  • The Boyhood of John Muir

    THE BOYHOOD OF JOHN MUIR,The Boyhood of John Muir a ninety-minute dramatic film by Florentine Films (Broadcast on PBS)

    • Gold Hugo (Best Children’s Feature Film), Chicago Television Festival
    • Silver Award (Best Adult Feature Film), Charleston Television Festival
  • Defending Everybody: The Story of the ACLU

    Defending Everybody: A History of the American Civil Liberties UnionDEFENDING EVERYBODY: THE STORY OF THE ACLU, a one-hour documentary by Florentine Films
    (Broadcast on PBS)

    Golden Award Apple, National Educational Film Festival

  • America’s Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye

    americas-endangered-speciesAMERICA’S ENDANGERED SPECIES: DON’T SAY GOODBYE, a one-hour “National Geographic Special”
    (Broadcast on NBC)

  • Influenza 1918

    Influenza 1918INFLUENZA 1918, A one-hour documentary by Robert Kenner Films

    (Broadcast on “The American Experience” on PBS)

  • The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal

    THE LOST FLEET OF GUADALCANAL, a 105-minute National Geographic “Explorer”

    (Broadcast on TBS)

    • Gold Award, WorldFest Film Festival — Best Documentary
    • Best Documentary Feature, Hong Kong Film Festival
    • Script nominated for Humanitas Award
  • The Wilderness Idea

    Wilderness Idea: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot and the First Great Battle for WildernessTHE WILDERNESS IDEA: JOHN MUIR, GIFFORD PINCHOT, AND THE FIRST BATTLE FOR WILDERNESS, a one-hour documentary by Florentine Films
    (Broadcast on “The American Experience” on PBS)

    • Blue Ribbon (Best History Film), American Film Festival
    • Golden Apple Award (Best History Film), National Educational Film Festival
    • Golden Gate Award (Best History Film), San Francisco Film Festival
    • Golden Plaque (Best History Film), Chicago Film Festival
  • American Treasures of the Library of Congress

    AMERICAN TREASURES OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, a one-hour documentary by Wentworth Films, produced and directed by Sandra W. Bradley, a production of WQED Pittsburgh

    (Broadcast on PBS)

  • Wild By Law

    Wild By LawWILD BY LAW, a one-hour documentary by Florentine Films
    (Broadcast on “The American Experience” on PBS)

    • Nominated for Academy Award — Best Documentary
    • Accepted by the Telluride Film Festival; CINE Golden Eagle
  • Siberian Soul on Ice

    SIBERIAN SOUL ON ICE, a half-hour National Geographic “Explorer”

    (Broadcast on TBS)

See a list of National Park Service films written by Chowder. →