WNED PBS documentary films profile individuals and events from the past and present that have impacted Western New York and Southern Ontario. Building on its mission to “educate, inform, enlighten and entertain,” our documentaries have helped foster a better understanding of this remarkable region. Many of our productions have program websites and educator resources that extend the content well beyond the program itself.
The Warrior Tradition
The largely-untold story of Native Americans who served in the United States military.
The Warrior Tradition
The Warrior Tradition tells the astonishing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and largely-untold story of Native Americans in the United States military. Why would Indian men and women put their lives on the line for the very government that took their homelands? The film relates the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view – stories of service and pain, of courage and fear.
There’s more to the story than heroism. And there’s more than one way to be a warrior.
This WNED PBS Production premiered on PBS in November 2019.Watch online now. Many resources including short films on the warrior theme by Native American filmmakers, bonusvideos, Lesson Plans and a Community Educators Discussion Guide are available on the program website (pbs.org/warriortradition).http://www.pbs.org/wned/opioid-epidemic/watch/
Cruising the Mighty Mississippi | Watch Full Program
The onboard experience and the many off-boat excursions of the eight-day river journey.
Cruising the Mighty Mississippi
There is no more authentic way to explore the Mississippi River than on a steam-driven paddlewheeler like the American Queen. Cruising the Mighty Mississippi takes viewers along for an unforgettable trip aboard the largest paddle-wheeler ever built from Memphis to New Orleans, stopping at many charming and historic southern towns along the way.
The half-hour public television program documents the on-board experience and the many off-boat excursions of the eight-day river journey. Viewers are treated to the magnificent scenery, local culture, food, music and fascinating history that makes this riverboat journey through America’s heartland such a unique adventure.
Funding for "Cruising the Mighty Mississippi" is funded in part by AAA Western and Central New York.
This WNED PBS Production premiered in October 2019. Watch online now.
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic | Watch Full Program
A documentary that combines stories of people and communities impacted by opioids.
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic traces the causes behind the unprecedented growth in use of prescription opioids and the devastating impact these drugs are having on our country. Through personal stories and interviews with experts, the documentary reveals the tragic impact of the overuse of prescription painkillers on individuals, families and communities. They are stories that often begin with medical treatment for moderate to severe pain that evolve into drug addiction and death. In addition to the personal stories of those impacted by the opioid crisis, the documentary explores the dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of prescription painkillers.
This WNED PBS Production premiered on PBS in January 2018. Watch online now. Many resources including a Community Engagement Toolkit and Lesson Plans are available on the program website (pbs.org/understandingopiods).
RALPH is a half-hour biographical documentary on Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., one of Buffalo’s most iconic sports figures. Wilson was thlong-time Buffalo News reporter Vic Carucci,e founder and long-time owner of the Buffalo Bills. After his death, the Bills were sold for a record $1.4 billion. The money from the sale was used to create the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, cementing a powerful sports and philanthropic legacy.
This WNED PBS production premiered in December 2017.
The Canadian Rockies by Rail | Watch Full Program
The Canadian Rockies by Rail
The Canadian Rockies by Rail takes viewers on a journey through the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies. The trip on board the Rocky Mountaineer train passes through some of North-America’s most stunning wilderness scenery. The trip includes stops in Vancouver, Kamloops, Banff and Jasper as well as a drive along the Icefields Parkway, often described as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS stations in New York State in December 2016.
Toronto's First Family of Theatre | Watch Full Program
Toronto's First Family of Theatre
The city of Toronto is a world-class theatre destination and much of its success over the last 50 years is owed to the Mirvish family. Toronto's First Family of Theatre examines how Ed, Anne and David Mirvish created a theatre empire that changed the cultural landscape of Toronto.
This WNED PBS production premiered in December 2016.
Remembering Western New York | Watch Full Program
Remembering Western New York
Buffalo is home to many historical treasures, including architectural gems, beloved community establishments, and homes for local sports teams. Remembering Western New York explores eight iconic structures and examines their connection to the people who live in the region. It is a celebration of these places told through the memories of those who remember and love the unique treasures of the region. “We have a tremendous sense of community in Buffalo that you don’t get in other places,” says Tom Girot, known as Conehead, the long-time beer vendor at many past and present Buffalo sports venues.
Stories in the program include Memorial Auditorium, Sattler’s Department Store, War Memorial Stadium, the Central Terminal, the Colored Musicians Club, holiday shopping on Main Street, The William Simon Brewery, and the Herschell Carrousel Factory.
Venues like The Aud and The Rockpile , says former Bills player Ed Rutkowski, reflected Western New York. “We’re hardworking people. We’re a shot-and-a-beer team,” Rutkowski says. “We weren’t fancy and that represented, I think, the spirit of Buffalo.”
The program is a nostalgic look at the region’s past and the things that made it great. “There is just a fondness for the good old days,” says Dan Starr, former Canisius College Athletic Director. “Buffalo people like nostalgia.”
This WNED PBS production premiered in June 2016.
Buffalo's First Ward | Watch Full Program
Buffalo's First Ward
The First Ward built Buffalo and, to some degree, America. The industries that blossomed along the shores of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie are largely responsible for creating Buffalo as a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse from the early 1800s through the mid-1900s. Buffalo’s industrial strength fueled American economic growth and expansion.
The fortunes of the First Ward, and those who lived there, ebbed and flowed with the tide of industry. When industry boomed, so did the Ward. When times were lean, they were lean everywhere.
Buffalo's First Ward tells the story of the neighborhood through the voices of those who live there. The First Ward, and its residents, have a fierce pride. That pride and endurance are responsible for the rebirth happening in the Ward today. Buffalo's First Ward captures this feeling of camaraderie and through it teaches us about where Buffalo has been and also where it might be going.
This WNED PBS production premiered in March 2015.
If Our Water Could Talk | Watch Full Program
If Our Water Could Talk
More than 22 percent of the city of Buffalo is water and the region lies within the largest fresh water system in the world. The abundance of freshwater is one of Western New York’s greatest resources. If Our Water Could Talk is a multi-media initiative that includes a television documentary, a community forum on the future of the Outer Harbor, radio reports, a website, educational materials and community engagement.
This WNED PBS production premiered in May 2014.
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original | Watch Full Program
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original
The life of Elbert Hubbard is a story of love, art, passion and controversy set against the backdrop of the Arts and Crafts Movement at the turn of the 20th century. To this “back-to-basics” artistic and cultural movement, Hubbard would contribute his bold, ingenious talent and creative force. The flamboyant founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, N.Y. (1856-1915) was an influential national figure -- an author, publisher, lecturer and entrepreneur. He also was a man of extreme contradictions, who ultimately died as dramatically as he lived.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in November 2009.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo | Watch Full Program
Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo
In Buffalo, N.Y., some of the greatest works of American architecture relay a remarkable story that resonates with the universal themes of home, family and friendship. The charismatic Frank Lloyd Wright, destined to become America’s greatest architect, called Darwin Martin, an unassuming, wealthy businessman from Buffalo, his “best friend.” Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo reveals how Martin’s three decades of support fostered Wright’s career and led to some of the architect’s renowned masterpieces—the Larkin Administration Building, the Darwin Martin Estates and the Martin summer home, Graycliff—all in Buffalo, New York.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in September 2006.
Herbert Hauptman: Portrait of a Laureate | Watch Program
Herbert Hauptman: Portrait of a Laureate
Herbert Hauptman: Portrait of a Laureate shines a light on Dr. Herbert Hauptman, A brilliant yet humble man who exemplifies dedication to family, beliefs and work. These qualities, the bedrock of our society, have guided Hauptman’s life. In his view, science holds an enormous promise for good and an equally great threat to our very survival.
This WNED PBS production premiered in June 2008.“Herbert Hauptman: Portrait of a Laureate” is funded in part by Independent Health, The University at Buffalo Academic Health Center and its School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the James H. Cummings Foundation. Additional support has been provided by…The Baird Foundation, The Peter C. Cornell Trust, Gelia Wells and Mohr, The M&T Charitable Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation, The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and by the members of WNED PBS.
The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain | Watch Full Program
The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain
Offering unprecedented access, The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain captures a unique approach to theatre in one of North America’s longest-running, most distinctive and exciting theatre experiences. In following the process of getting plays from the page to the stage, this documentary provides insight into the production at a world-renowned repertory theatre festival. Each year between April and October, the Shaw Festival presents 10–12 plays on four stages that attract patrons from all over the world. Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, the Shaw’s extended and one-of-a-kind schedule has actors and directors working on several plays at once. Over eight months, crews design and build sets on a finely honed schedule that is frenetic, creative and amazingly well-planned and executed.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in July 2013.
Niagara Falls | Watch Full Program
Niagara Falls is more than the celebration of a natural wonder. It's a study of human achievement and folly on an epic scale, a tale of affable lunacy, high drama, danger and desire. The Falls were the nation’s first great symbol, an emblem for the vast untamed continent with its beauty and its limitless resources. What happened to that beauty, and those resources, is the story-line of the film.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in September 2006.
Chautauqua: An American Narrative | Watch Full Program
Chautauqua: An American Narrative
Chautauqua: An American Narrative captures the unique environment and opportunities provided by the Chautauqua Institution. The program focuses on the contemporary story of Chautauqua today while using the Institution's rich history to provide context and perspective. It is an exploration of this uniquely American experience and its pervasive—yet sometimes forgotten—place in American culture and history. The Chautauqua Institution promotes life-long learning and the engagement of art, education and community through lectures, performances, and other activities. Chautauqua: An American Narrative showcases the places and activities that make Chautauqua such a unique destination. The program highlights each of the 'four pillars' of Chautauqua; the arts, education, recreation and religion.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in January 2011.
Golf's Grand Design | Trailer
Golf's Grand Design
Golf's playing fields have recognizable characteristics—fairways, greens, bunkers, and water hazards but golf is the only sport played on a field with no specifically defined dimensions. Golf's playing fields are dictated by the features of the land and the imagination of the architect.
Golf's Grand Design focuses on golf course architecture from the 1880s through present day featuring some of America's best known and influential courses: the National Golf Links of America on Long Island; Baltusrol in New Jersey; Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx; Augusta National in Georgia; the Dunes in South Carolina; Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina; Crooked Stick in Indiana; Sand Hills in Nebraska; Shadow Creek in Las Vegas and Bandon Dunes and Old Macdonald in Oregon.
This WNED PBS production premiered on PBS in August 2012.
Polonia: Western New York's Polish - American Legacy | Watch
Polonia: Western New York's Polish-American Legacy
Narrated by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and Buffalo native Christine Baranski, Polonia: Western New York's Polish-American Legacy celebrates the history and cultural richness of our regions Polish American community.
Today, one in every three Erie County residents is of Polish descent. Using vintage and modern-day footage, historical photos, memorabilia and personal recollections, we trace the evolution of this compelling immigrant success story from 1873 to present day.
Witness the struggle to build Polish neighborhoods and institutions that would preserve language and culture. Examine the connection between the Polish identity and religion. Experience the beautiful Polish Christmas and Easter traditions. Find the heart of Polonia in Polish-Americans who preserve and celebrate their heritage.
This WNED PBS production premiered in September 2005.
Buffalo's Outer Harbor - A Community Discussion |Watch
Buffalo's Outer Harbor - A Community Discussion
The Outer Harbor represents one of the most important opportunities for Western New York to reclaim its waterfront. Community leaders debate how to build on the success that is happening at Canalside and the Inner Harbor, examining issues of water quality, public access and economic development. Watch a community discussion about the future of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
This WNED PBS production premiered in May 2014.