The films you'll find on the PBS series "P.O.V." that begins tonight (9 p.m. on Channel 24, 10 p.m. on Channels 28 and 50) and unfolds over a 10-week period, are a briskly eclectic selection, not named "Point of View" for nothing. If they lack the grand institutional feeling of made-for-TV documentaries, it's not accidental. They're not journalism but something closer to real personal dramas: You can feel the film maker's passion to show us these people, this neighborhood, these fighters. (Lots of fighters here, battling age, AIDS, Franco, political repression, the decline of the old neighborhood.)
The level of craft varies widely. There are vivid, classically well-made portraits from history ("The Good Fight," Aug. 9, on the Lincoln Brigade). There are films by student film makers, one memorable one which ("Knocking on Armageddon's Door," July 19) turned up first at a USC screening. "Best Boy" (Sept. 6) took home an Oscar in 1979.
While checking my own strong reactions to "Best Boy" against the universally enthusiastic press of the time, I found this sentence by the Village Voice's astute Tom Allen. Pondering the film's success, in spite of its, shall we say, modest craft, Allen felt that the fuss over the film came from "its ability to convey warm feelings about easily identifiable subjects." Absolutely. And, without the slightest condescension, you could apply that phrase to at least half these "P.O.V." choices. Frankly, I think it's what's makes some of these films stick so tenaciously. Give them a chance and I think they may engage you, too, or make you mad, or even make you weep. But I doubt that anyone will be indifferent to them.