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Documentaries, nature

180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless

YEAR: 2010 | LENGTH: 1 part (127 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


The film emulates the 1968 trip made by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia, but rather than by land, Jeff Johnson travels by sea from Mexico and south along the west coast of Chile. The film opens with original home movie footage as taken by Chouinard and Tompkins, and then continues with Johnson’s own footage, in which he includes surfing, sailing and climbing as the film follows Johnson signing on with a small boat heading for Chile, his being delayed for several weeks on Easter Island, his meeting travel partner Makohe, and in his reaching Patagonia, Johnson meeting with Chouinard and Tompkins. The film concludes with his attempt to climb Cerro Corcovado (the Corcovado volcano), an attempt that was halted 200 feet from the summit out of concerns for safety.

Documentaries, society

Eminent Monsters

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (88 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Documentary tracing the shocking truth of our governments’ love affair with torture. In 1950s Montreal, Scottish-born psychiatrist Dr Ewen Cameron experimented on his unwitting patients. His techniques included sensory deprivation, forced comas and LSD injections. His work was covertly funded by the Canadian government and the CIA and since then, his techniques have been used in Northern Ireland, Guantanamo and 27 countries around the world.

Featuring extraordinary first-hand testimony from Guantanamo Bay survivors, the Hooded Men from Northern Ireland and senior American psychologists and military personnel.

Documentaries, society

Gypsy Kids Taken from Home

YEAR: 2018 | LENGTH: 1 part (43 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Hungary has more Roma gypsy kids in institutional care than any other EU country and is facing a potential crisis. Stacey Dooley meets some of the parents, kids and social workers on the frontline of Hungary’s child protection system, as she investigates accusations by Roma families of widespread institutional racism in the Hungarian care system.

Against a backdrop of growing support for nationalist and far-right politicians amongst Hungarians, Stacey questions if there is a genuine need for Roma children to be protected or if prejudice is driving the growing trend to take Roma kids from their families.

Visiting some of Hungary’s poorest communities, Stacey meets Roma gypsy families who are threatened with child removal and mothers who have recently lost their children, as well as spending time with the social workers charged with making the life-changing decision to remove children deemed at risk.

Stacey meets staff and teenage residents in Hungary’s children’s homes where often over 70% of the residents are Roma gypsy kids. Stacey discovers that many of these homes are far from a refuge from the chaotic families the children were taken from, but instead many are said to be rife with drug use, prostitution, physical and sexual violence, with care workers feeling powerless to intervene. Outside the homes, she confronts the pimps who are exploiting Hungary’s most vulnerable children, only to discover many of them are Roma themselves.

Caught between anti-gypsy hostility in their communities, the demands of child protection services, and growing up in struggling families who often have social problems, Stacey explores if there’s any hope for Hungary’s Roma gypsy kids in care.

Documentaries, society, technology

Coded Bias

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (85 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


It follows researchers and advocates, principally MIT computer scientist and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League Joy Buolamwini, as they explore how algorithms encode and propagate bias.The documentary touches on other ethical issues in Big Tech, including surveillance through facial recognition, and the perils of computer-based judgement in human evaluation. Others featured include Weapons of Math Destruction author Cathy O’Neill and members of Big Brother Watch, including Silkie Carlo, in London.

Documentaries, society

Romania: Rape of the Forest

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (25 minutes)  |  SOURCE: ALJAZEERA


It is getting dangerous in Romania’s vast ancient forests. The figures are stark: Six rangers killed (two in 2019 alone) and a further 650 attacked with axes, knives and guns.

The Carpathians, where 70 percent of Europe’s virgin forest is found, straddle Romania and Ukraine and are now the scene of a desperate battle between what has been dubbed the “Timber Mafia” and those risking their lives to protect this precious environment.

Documentaries, society

21st Century Mythologies

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Art historian Professor Richard Clay explores how Mythologies, written in 1957 by French philosopher Roland Barthes, laid bare the myth-making at the heart of popular culture. Now, following in Barthes’s footsteps, Richard Clay dissects some of the everyday myths we still take for granted in the 21st century, revealing the hidden meanings in everything from money, Wi-Fi and race to the Madonna.

It’s a journey that takes us from Paris to Margate, from the streets of Manhattan to the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Along the way, Richard meets avant-garde artists including Clet Abraham, Ingrid Burrington, Molly Soda and Rene Matic, whose works subvert the assumptions underpinning the way we see our world. We are introduced to semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, which provides an analytical toolkit that helps us navigate advertising and its demands on our attention.

In today’s world of relentless digital information, Richard argues, myths have the ability to hoodwink us more than ever. What might Roland Barthes have made of the 21st century?

Documentaries, society

Perfect Me

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (50 minutes)  |  SOURCE: VPRO


Being beautiful has many advantages: you do better in the relationship market, in finding a job, a house and a network. But who decides what is beautiful? And how do you compete with your idealised, digital self?

Online, we filter our selfies en masse to look better, but injecting ‘real’ lips and buttocks is also taking off. Being beautiful has never been more important, because beauty pays! Whoever meets the dominant ideal of beauty has many advantages, not only in the relationship market but also in finding a job, a house and a network. But who decides what is beautiful? And how do you become beautiful according to the prevailing standard?

In fashion and advertising, there is now a trend towards more variety and colour. And on social media, too, there is room for body positivity and pluss-sized models. But is that really the whole story? According to fashion activist Janice Deul, it is often just window dressing and symbol politics, and the ideal of young, thin and white remains firmly in place. Research also shows that beauty standards worldwide have become more similar.

The influence of social media and the growth of the service economy have made appearance even more important. People are investing more than ever in beauty. In her book Perfect Me, philosopher Heather Widdows points out that the extent to which we submit to the dominant ideal of beauty is also changing: for many men and women, the demand to be beautiful is becoming a driving force in their lives, a ‘moral imperative’ that you can no longer escape. What will the beauty ideal of the future look like? And what ideal of beauty belongs to the globalised, digital society?

Documentaries, nature, society

The Whale Hunters

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (42 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Stacey Dooley investigates the controversial world of whale hunting. This contentious practice has hit the headlines around the world as whaling countries defy international pressure to ban the practice. Whalers argue it is just food, like any other meat. Campaigners call it barbaric and outdated. With rare access to a Norwegian commercial hunting vessel, Stacey witnesses the killing of a minke whale. And on the remote Faroe islands, modern-day hunters defend their tradition of whale slaughter for food, while activists from around the world say they will keep coming to the island until they stop.

Stacey heads to Norway, the world’s biggest commercial whaling nation. From the Lofoten Islands, off the country’s northern coast, Stacey joins skipper Bjorn and his crew on a minke whale hunt out to the Arctic Circle to fulfil an order from a local factory – each minke whale is worth around £7,000.

On the fourth day at sea, Stacey witnesses Bjorn track and kill a seven-metre-long, five-tonne minke whale with an explosive harpoon grenade. The minke is not considered under threat from extinction and therefore is lawful to hunt in Norway. For the whalers, it is straightforward – the minke provides food and a living. Bjorn suggests critics are urban people who don’t understand the laws of nature. According to a Norwegian report, the harpoon delivers instant death on impact in 82% of killings, but the remaining 18% can take an average of six minutes to die – for many, this is an unacceptable level of cruelty.

Stacey also travels to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic. The Faroese drive pods of pilot whales and white-sided dolphins to designated bays where they are slaughtered by hand. In this 1,000-year-old tradition known as the grind, the meat is not sold but given free to those involved in the hunt. Stacey talks to islanders who defend the killing as environmentally sustainable and culturally important – from the grind foreman Magnus, who leads the whale hunts and objects to outsiders telling them how to live, to Armgard, a 24-year-old student who wants to get her license to kill. They maintain that the killing is instant and the animals are not in distress or pain during the grind.

Stacey is shown dramatic footage of a recentgrind shot by British Sea Shepherd campaigner Sarah, who streamed the graphic images for the world to see. She argues that boats driving a pod of pilot whales to shore during a grind can take hours, leaving the mammals confused and disorientated. They believe the killing is inhumane and unregulated and cannot be justified because of tradition. Stacey questions a government official about the method of killing the whales and dolphins.

Stacey is faced with highly charged and passionate people on both sides of the argument and a whole host of cultural differences as she searches for answers to whetehr there still a place for whale hunting in today’s world.

Documentaries, nature, society

Dogs With Extraordinary Jobs

YEAR: 2019 | LENGTH: 5 parts (~50 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: IMDB


The series will reveal how dogs’ natural abilities are being harnessed in creative and beneficial ways by scientists, rescuers and the disadvantaged to improve lives, increase safety and maintain the health and biodiversity of our planet.


A Great Dane assists a 13-year-old girl living with a limiting condition; a Border Collie helps the California Task Force search for survivors; Ruger sniffs out illegal poachers in Zambia.

Border Collies at a South African airport work to prevent bird/aircraft collisions; a Sprocker Spaniel and Anatolian Shepherd save lives in the British countryside.

A German shepherd mix and an L.A. firefighter search for mudslide survivors; spaniels search for underground water leaks; a Labrador learns to read.

A blind woman gets a running mate; a Jack Russell cares for species; a pack of dogs protects rhinos in Kenya; a Border Collie protects visitors in Glacier National Park.

Another conservation detection dog highlighted is Dio, a whale scat sniffing dog formally with the University of Washington and now with a rough and rowdy outfit of sniffer dogs aptly named Rogue Detection Teams.

Documentaries, society

Rubbish Dump Britain

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (29 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Fly-tipping is a national problem that is ruining our towns and countryside. There are more than a million incidents each year of illegally dumped rubbish in the UK. So why are so few people prosecuted for damaging the places we love? Reporter Richard Bilton investigates a crime that affects us all and meets some of those who are fighting back against the fly-tippers.