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FRONTLINE: American Voices: A Nation In Turmoil

Photo montage of people. A FRONTLINE election special: the lives, fears and hopes of Americans from the pandemic to the polls.
Courtesy of Mike Shum/FRONTLINE (PBS)
Photo montage of people. A FRONTLINE election special: the lives, fears and hopes of Americans from the pandemic to the polls.

Stream now or tune in Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

New Documentary Special Captures the Lives, Fears and Hopes of Americans in 2020, from the Pandemic to the Polls

From the pandemic to the polls, 2020 has been a time of tumult across a deeply divided America. Now, FRONTLINE presents a post-election documentary special filmed around the country for much of the year — showing the diverse perspectives and experiences of Americans from across the nation in the chaotic months leading up to the historic presidential contest and its aftermath.

“American Voices: A Nation In Turmoil” premiered in November 2020.


This special hour stems from an ongoing project from filmmaker Mike Shum (“Predator on the Reservation”), who assembled a team of cinematographers in approximately 12 states following Americans as they dealt with COVID-19 in their communities this spring, responded to George Floyd’s killing this summer, and then participated in this divisive election and its aftermath this fall. 

“At the beginning of shelter-in-place back in March, America entered a collective unknown. We felt the need for historical posterity, so we decided to recruit a team of cinematographers around the country to capture a diverse spectrum of Americans as they began to adapt to a world that changed overnight,” says Shum. “It became clear that our country was not only contending with the pandemic, but also a social landscape that deepened long standing divisions in race relations and political parties. We hope that what we've created will serve as a reflection of the divergent perspectives of Americans during this time and also an artifact for future generations.” 

With extraordinary scope, drawing on months of filming right up to its release, the resulting film is a journey across geography, race and politics. With revealing scenes and personal reflections, “American Voices: A Nation In Turmoil” sheds light on where this country has been — and where it is headed

Tune in or stream:


Watch starting Tuesday, Nov. 17. The documentary premieres that night at 10/9c on PBS stations and YouTube. It will be available to stream at and on the PBS Video App beginning at 7/6c.

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A FRONTLINE production with Five O’Clock Films in association with Mike Shum Productions LLC. The producer, writer and  director is Mike Shum. The senior producers are Dan Edge, Frank Koughan, Callie T. Wiser and Daffodil Altan. The executive producer is Raney Aronson-Rath.