Films BYkids Returns to Public Television with Four New Films by Young Filmmakers beginning November 1 Featuring Emmy Nominee Ashley Judd as Narrator

Fourth season explores war and displacement, mental wellbeing, climate change and sustainable agriculture

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Films BYkids, a collaboration between The WNET Group and the non-profit organization BYkids, pairs accomplished filmmakers with youth from around the world to create short, personal documentaries that encourage understanding about universal issues and help foster empathy and global citizenry. With U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress Ashley Judd returning as series narrator, this fourth season of Films BYkids follows young people from diverse cultures who share their individual experiences with war and displacement, mental health issues, climate change and sustainable agriculture. This new season of the four-part documentary series premieres nationally on public television beginning Wednesday, November 1 (check local listings). The series premieres in the New York Metro area on November 6 on WLIW21 and November 11 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

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“This compelling season of Films BYkids shines a spotlight on the authentic and incredibly powerful stories of young filmmakers,” says Sandra Sheppard, executive producer for The WNET Group and director of WNET’s Kids’ Media and Education. “The films and accompanying resources provide teachers with tools to enrich and expand their students’ cross-cultural awareness and understanding.”  

“These films and their educational materials are designed to inspire a new generation of change makers,” said Holly Carter, Founder and Executive Director of BYkids. “Our educational tools help young people understand complex global issues through the shared stories of their peers. Our goal is to make learning more relevant for today’s youth while catalyzing empathy, connection and positive change within the classroom and beyond.”

In season 4 of Films BYkids, each 30-minute film shares the universal values of courage, perseverance and dignity. “Return Date: Unknown” examines the effects of war and displacement on Ukrainians, “Seeds of Life” explores sustainable farming and the threat to biodiversity in India, and “Beekeeper” addresses mental health issues and building community connections through beekeeping in Kentucky. “Another World is Possible” shines light on climate change and the power of youth climate activism in Germany.

Episode 401: “Return Date: Unknown”
17-year-old Tymur Tsapliienko loves playing basketball and dreams of becoming a pilot, but those dreams have been placed on hold as Tymur is also a refugee who escaped Ukraine when the Russian army invaded his country. Now longing for his friends, his family, his school, and his home, Tymur embarks on a journey from Germany through Poland to see his father, a war journalist who was injured during a Russian offensive. With guidance from film mentor Rom Barnea, Tymur interviews fellow refugees, examining the devastation of war and displacement, the connection between war and fossil fuel dependence, and the ways in which people find solidarity and hope during times of crisis.

Episode 402: “Seeds of Life”
Diya Payal is a 14-year-old from India who loves science, nature, and spending time with her family. While assisting her grandparents on their rural farm in the foothills of the Himalayas during summer holidays, she grew passionate about plants and the importance of plant biodiversity. Mentored by filmmaker Camilla Becket, Diya interviews farmers, visits a community seed bank, and celebrates Hindu traditions with her family. Along the way, she explores how climate change and industrial agriculture are threatening plant species, shines light on sustainable farming, and examines the ways in which food, family, and farming are connected to her spiritual and cultural relationship with the natural world.

Episode 403: “Beekeeper”
15-year-old Keith Griffith III developed an interest in beekeeping at age 11 when both of his parents were incarcerated. To help Keith cope with stress, his uncle taught him how to care for a bee colony, how to harvest honey, and the importance of pollinators for food production and the environment. Now, Keith has become a mental health and environmental advocate and gives workshops and talks in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Guided by filmmaker Evan Mascagni, Keith shines a light on the ways in which bees have taught him about cooperation, community, and emotional wellness.

Episode 404: “Another World is Possible”
20-year-old Helena Marschall is one of Germany’s most prominent youth climate activists, having co-created Fridays for Future Germany, a global youth-led climate awareness movement inspired by Greta Thunberg and other young activists after they sat in front of the Swedish parliament to protest the lack of action on the climate crisis. Mentored by filmmaker Anja Baron, Helena documents how she and fellow activists protest a mining company’s plan to bulldoze a German village and shares her passion for climate justice and the power of youth activism.

Films BYkids provides online educational materials designed to help teachers engage their students in meaningful conversations about global issues—and inspire them to investigate their own stories. Video-based learning resources for middle and high school classrooms that address topics in history and climate science are aligned with national standards will be included on PBS LearningMedia beginning November 1. The series companion website will also offer streaming video of the four films.

Films BYkids filmmakers are chosen by the Films BYkids team. After creating a list of issues to explore and countries to focus on, they partner with leading nonprofits to help find young people directly affected by those issues who then become both the subject and the director of their own short film. Films BYkids provides each participant with a professional film mentor as well as camera equipment. 

Major funding for season 4 of Films BYkids is provided by New York State Education Department, Stahl Family Fund, Greg Baxter and Lucy Price, Hilary and Joe Adams, Henry Nias Foundation, The New York Community Trust – Chadwick Fund, William Hartnett / Cahill Gordon & Reindell, Allyson and Andrew Wiener, Grisanti McLeod Family Fund, Emmie and Eric Lee, EMA Foundation, Carla Shankle, Isabel Sheinman, and Bank of America.

Films BYkids is a production of BYkids in association with The WNET Group. Executive Producer for BYkids is Holly Carter. Final Cut USA, Inc. Significant Others and Machine serve as post-production partners for BYkids. Executive Producer for Final Cut and Significant Others is Stephanie Apt. Executive Producers for The WNET Group are Sandra Sheppard and Jill Peters. Senior Producer for The WNET Group is Suzanne Rose. Distributed nationally by American Public Television. 

About The WNET Group 
The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; newsroom NJ Spotlight News; and FAST channel PBS Nature. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading nonprofit public media producer for more than 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us.  

About BYkids
BYkids produces real-world films for kids, by kids. Talented young storytellers from around the world are paired with seasoned filmmakers to create powerful documentaries about their lives. In partnership with public television and education innovators, we share the films and their educational resources to help make global issues feel personal, relevant and actionable for millions of students. Our work serves as a catalyst for change, igniting important conversations and inspiring a new generation of social activists. (

About American Public Television:
American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and more than one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, dramas, how-to programs, classic movies, children’s series and news and current affairs programs. Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, America’s Test Kitchen, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Pacific Heartbeat, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television, The Indian Doctor, Legacy List with Matt Paxton, Lidia’s Kitchen, Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen, Simply Ming, The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, Front & Center, James Patterson’s Kid Stew and NHK Newsline are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — and WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. APT’s newest venture, APT Podcast Studios, presents podcast productions including “If This Food Could Talk,” “Armchair Explorer” and “Gravy.” More information at

About PBS LearningMedia
PBS LearningMedia is a dynamic website that offers preK-12 educators access to thousands of resources from PBS stations and partners. These digital tools are designed to complement classroom instruction and are aligned with national and state standards.  


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