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What to Watch and Stream from VPM This Fall

Closeup of Von Johnson sitting on a porch, from the documentary "Heard"
Von Johnson in "Heard." (Photo: Belltower Pictures)

At VPM, we use storytelling to connect you to what matters.

This season, our slate of original productions includes programming to spark meaningful dialogue on racism and inequality, thought-provoking series on politics and history, and inspiring local stories of people shaping our communities.

Read below for top Fall 2020 highlights and watch the video for more news, arts & culture, science, history and education from VPM.

Sep. 3 at 9 p.m. | Racism: Challenging Perceptions
In September, VPM will release the first episode of its four-part virtual panel discussion series focused on systemic racism and the resulting disparities in health, housing, policing, wealth building and education. Part one takes a look at the historic roots of systemic racism, and how the pandemic and recent instances of police brutality have brought these disparities to the forefront. Brought to you by VPM, the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, and the Richmond Night Market, the series will air monthly. To participate in upcoming discussions or find tune-in information, visit

Sep. 8, 15 and 22 at 8 p.m. | Dismantling Democracy
This three-part docuseries explores the past and critically examines the present to understand the risks to our democracy and the future of global politics. Featuring interviews from across the political spectrum, the series depicts the gradual deterioration of the democratic process and asks whether we are up to the pressing task of preserving democracy. Narrated by Tara Setmayer and produced by MAKE/FILMS, the series is a collaboration between VPM and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. 

Sep. 10 and 17 at 8:30 p.m. | Creating Common Wealth
Produced in partnership with Silverthorn Films, this two-part docuseries reveals how entrepreneurship, innovation and creative approaches to problem solving are revitalizing hometowns, strengthening the bonds between citizens, and providing a blueprint for a prosperous and unified future. Episode one visits the Suitcase Clinic providing healthcare to Harrisonburg’s homeless and the WagiLabs program at Cumberland County Elementary School in rural Cumberland, Virginia where students brainstorm ways to bring their community together. Episode two features The Market at 25th in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood, the agritourism business in Nelson County and Wise County’s use of solar projects to repurpose the land on old coal mines. 

Sep. 21 at 9 p.m. | Passion Projects
In early 2019, a gold-painted shipping container, part of the Portal Project, appeared in Richmond’s Monroe Park. The audiovisual-equipped enclosure was there to connect people from all over the globe through the use of technology. This documentary produced by the team of The Branching, Andy Stefanovich, Courtney Ferrell and Nils Parker, explores the artistic process that went into this unique worldwide installation project, the brainchild of Brooklyn’s Shared Studios, and how the opportunity to connect virtually with strangers can lead to a stronger sense of shared humanity.

Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. | Heard
This documentary from VPM and Belltower Pictures weaves together a family of compelling stories about the housing crisis in our region, told in the first-person by people living in the face of incredible challenges. It focuses on current and former residents of Richmond’s public housing developments, revealing their struggles and their successes. 

October | Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
Produced by Show of Force and based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, “Tightrope” follows Kristof and WuDunn as they explore some of the biggest challenges facing Americans today, including opioid addiction, poverty, and incarceration. What can be done to rescue those who are struggling, for whom the American Dream seems forever out of reach? 

October | Why This Moment
This locally-produced documentary centers on the removal of Richmond’s Confederate monuments, the history and events that led up to their coming down, and what happens next. Footage and narration from videographer Domico Phillips will frame the documentary produced by Metta Bastet. 

November | Seizing Freedom
VPM’s latest podcast series comes from executive producer Ed Ayers and host Kidada E. Williams. Against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction, “Seizing Freedom” utilizes first-hand accounts of Black people to showcase how they defined freedom for themselves and fought daily to maintain it, despite every effort to keep it from them. A trailer is available at

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