Democracy in a Time of Fortitude and Fragility: What to Watch in July


As the U.S. celebrates July 4th while recognizing the flaws of what Independence Day represents, WORLD covers the headlines through the voices of the people who have lived them. This month, we present three new documentaries from Pennsylvania, Chicago and Korea that teach us about our past while informing and changing our future.

For Local USA, The Power of a Pardon and FIRSTHAND: Gun Violence present stories of the criminal justice system, redemption and healing from gun trauma. For Doc World, Crossings commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement and international women peacemakers calling for an end to the war that has tragically divided families across the Korean peninsula.

As we look ahead to November 2024, when the American people will be voting for the 47th President of the United States, explore democracy, its fragile existence – which has been at the center of U.S. and global politics – and how social ills that will occur or peak over the course of this election season will set the tone for how we all vote. 


Criminal Justice System

NEW The Power of a Pardon | Local, USA
July 3 on TV, online, YouTube & on the PBS app

For five formerly incarcerated individuals who served their time, the only path to redemption and chance to pursue their purpose is through the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Through intimate and, at times, nerve-racking stories, these individuals show how life-altering a pardon and criminal justice reform can be when trying to build a life after prison.

Gun Violence

NEW FIRSTHAND: Gun Violence | Local, USA
July 10 on TV, online, YouTube & on the PBS app

The number of gun violence victims in Chicago may fluctuate, but the psychological trauma in many neighborhoods is constant. How do wounded communities heal? Explore the personal stories of people whose lives have been affected and how each, in their own way, is transforming pain and struggle into hope and action.

Heaven: Can You Hear Me? | Local, USA
July 17 on TV, online & on the PBS app

In Philadelphia, gun violence is the leading cause of death for young Black men. Explore the impact on families through the eyes of mothers like one woman whose youngest of four sons was murdered. The film demonstrates the challenges gun violence prevention advocates confront while allowing viewers to understand the often-untold trauma and resilience of survivors.


For the Love of Rutland | America ReFramed
July 13 on TV, online & on the PBS app

An attempt to bring Syrian refugees to invigorate the economically struggling and predominantly white town of Rutland, VT unleashes deep partisan rancor. Despite a lifetime of feeling invalidated and shamed for her poverty and addiction, long-time Rutland resident, Stacie, emerges as an unexpected and resilient leader in a town divided by class, cultural values and political leanings.

NEW The Statue of Liberty | Iconic America: Our Symbols & Stories with David Rubenstein
July 14 on TV & on the PBS app

The evolving meaning of this symbol for a “nation of immigrants,” and how it embodies our values and our conflicts, from abolition and women’s suffrage to the treatment of refugees.

International – Korea

NEW Crossings | Doc World
July 22 online & on the PBS app | July 23 on TV

A group of international women peacemakers sets out on a risky journey across the DMZ between North and South Korea, calling for an end to the 70-year war that has divided the peninsula and its people. Comprised of Nobel Peace Laureates and renowned activists, the team faces daunting logistical and political challenges as they forge a path with their Korean sisters toward peace and reconciliation.

Geographies of Kinship | America ReFramed
July 27 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Weaving together the complex personal histories of four adult adoptees born in South Korea with the rise of the country’s global adoption program. Raised in foreign families, each adoptee sets out on a journey to reconnect with their roots, mapping the geographies of kinship that bind them to a homeland they never knew.

Mental Health

Any Given Day | America ReFramed
July 20 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Filmmaker Margaret Byrne follows three formerly incarcerated Chicagoans as they manage their respective mental illnesses while searching for stability in their families, friendships, jobs and housing. While documenting the challenges that are faced at the intersections of a punitive carceral system, poverty and substance use, Byrne reckons with her own history of mental illness.

Decolonizing Mental Health | Local, USA
July 24 on TV, online & on the PBS app

The mental health field operates around a center defined by a whiteness of theory and practice. It’s a colonization that has rarely been questioned. By focusing on the work of therapists and individuals of color, the film and digital series call for a redressal of the ways in which we define psychiatric illness while discussing what a more responsive mental health care system should look like.

Native American

Daughter of a Lost Bird | America ReFramed
July 6 on TV | Available online & on the PBS app

Kendra, a Native adoptee, grew up assimilated in a loving, white family with little connection to her heritage. Now, as an adult with a family of her own, Kendra embarks on a seven year journey to find her biological mother, April, and return to her Lummi homeland. Together, Kendra and April, also a Native adoptee, navigate what it means to be Native and to belong to a tribe from the outside. Watch more in Local, USA's Generations Stolen, available online, on YouTube and on the PBS app.


NEW Putin's Crisis | FRONTLINE
July 12 on TV, online & on the PBS app

With Vladimir Putin facing down a mutiny, how the Russian leader reached this moment of crisis. The story of Putin’s rise, his clashes at home and abroad, and how his troubled Ukraine war led to the greatest threat yet to his grip on power.


A Story of Bones | POV
July 5 on TV, online & on the PBS app

As Construction Environmental Officer for St. Helena's troubled airport project, Annina van Neel learns about an unmarked mass burial ground of an estimated 9,000 formerly enslaved Africans. Haunted by this historical injustice, she and African American preservationist Peggy King Jorde fight for their proper memorialization, exposing the UK's colonial past and present.

Liquor Store Dreams | POV
July 12 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Two Korean American children of liquor store owners reconcile their own dreams with those of their immigrant parents. They confront the complex legacies of LA's racial landscape, including the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins and the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police beating of Rodney King, while engaged in current struggles for social and economic justice.

A House Made of Splinters | POV
July 19 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Near the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine, a safe haven provides refuge for children who have been temporarily separated from their parents. A House Made of Splinters chronicles three displaced kids who, despite the perils surrounding them, find moments of joy and friendship, with the aid of dedicated social workers who work tirelessly to protect them from harm.

Episode 1 | Southern Storytellers
July 22 on TV & on the PBS app

Southern creators of literature, music, and film explore deep ties to their native South: Billy Bob Thornton reflects on a life of writing songs and screenplays; Adia Victoria celebrates her music and marriage near Nashville; David Joy laments the disappearance of the Appalachian culture he loves; Jericho Brown reveals the South as essential to his creativity; and Mary Steenburgen remembers her Arkansas childhood in song.

Eat Your Catfish | POV
July 26 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Paralyzed by late-stage ALS and reliant on round-the-clock care, Kathryn clings to a mordant wit as she yearns to witness her daughter's wedding. Shot from her fixed point of view, Eat Your Catfish delivers a brutally frank and darkly humorous portrait of a family teetering on the brink, grappling with the daily demands of disability and in-home caretaking.


Summertime | Stories from the Stage
July 3 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Sunny days and balmy nights...moments when anything was possible. Khalilah goes to camp for the first time and learns more than just campfire songs; when a vacation takes a dangerous turn, Martha is surprised by her mom’s courageous act; and as a kid, Ajay discovers baseball and its magical connection to the divine. Hosted by Theresa Okokon.

Listen now on Stories from the Stage: The Podcast!

Experience | Stories from the Stage
July 10 on TV, online & the PBS app

It has often been said that experience is the best teacher. Joan learns that it’s never too late to radically change her life; Stacey's forgotten gift regains an unexpected value; and Matthew looks down the barrel of a bandit’s gun and learns that his life is worth more than a pint of ice cream. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

For the Win | Stories from the Stage
July 17 on TV, online & on the Facebook & PBS apps

When it comes to sports, first place isn’t always the best place. Rae Marie is pushed to overcome her fear of diving but jumping into her own mind is better; in the middle of an emergency, Bernard heads to the World Series of Poker; and Adam dreams of winning a trophy like his mom but it's more difficult than it looks. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Kitchen Confessions | Stories from the Stage
July 24 on TV, online & on the PBS app

For some, cooking is a refuge. And for others, it's a salty nightmare. Javed pits his meager cooking skills against those of his chef father; Alan explores cooking with a romantic partner; and Executive Chef Karen relives a restaurant shift from hell. Hosted by Theresa Okokon.

Road Trip | Stories from the Stage
July 31 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Road Trip! On the highway where anything can happen, take a ride on a journey that changed everything. Melissa tells us about the night she opened for Bob Dylan; Suzanne drives home with a feisty ram; and Akshobh discovers hospitality and humanity in the wilderness. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Listen now on Stories from the Stage: The Podcast!

Discuss and engage with us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and TikTok by using the hashtag #Democracy and tagging us @worldchannel. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube for more features including events and interviews.

Enjoy our content? Consider donating to keep important storytelling like this going, and find more on PBS Passport.

Related Content

Your Vote: America 2022

Your vote counts every year. Change begins within every city and town across the nation and radiates upward. WORLD Channel explores theses issues – healthcare, economy, race, immigration, housing, climate change and more – told through the lens of politics and policy and the narrative of the American people.

Well-Being: BIPOC Mental Health

In July, BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month brings forth a necessary consciousness of what is being done and what more can be done for all communities of color who have historically been left out of the mental healthcare system. WORLD Channel showcases stories of mental health with last year’s digital series Decolonizing Mental Health and the new America ReFramed film Any Given Day.

Gun Violence: Healing as a Community

Gun violence has increased across the U.S. over the last two years, but the way we understand it lacks nuance. In three films, explore the personal toll of gun violence on families and communities across America.

Finding Help and Healing Amid Grief: Resources and Support

The scope of violence has no limits, and the effects of trauma, and the burden it places, ripple far beyond what can be managed on our own. WORLD Channel offers resources to support the individuals, families and communities across the country coping with grief while searching for hope and healing. If you or a loved one is looking for support, help is out there.