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astronomy, Documentaries

Super Telescope: Mission to the Edge of the Universe

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (60 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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As Nasa releases the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, this film tells the inside story of the telescope’s construction and the astronomers taking its first picture of distant stars and galaxies. Will it be the deepest image of our universe ever taken?

The successor to Hubble, and 100 times more powerful, the James Webb is the most technically advanced telescope ever built. It will look further back in time than Hubble to an era around 200 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies appeared. Webb’s primary mission is to capture the faint light from these objects on the edge of our visible universe so that scientists can learn how they formed, but its instruments are so sensitive it could also be the first telescope to detect signs of life on a distant planet.

The James Webb Telescope is an £8 billion gamble on the skills of its engineering team. It’s the first telescope designed to unfold in space – a complicated two-week operation in which 178 release devices must all work – 107 of them on the telescope’s sun shield alone. If just one fails, the expensive telescope could become a giant piece of space junk.

From its conception in the late 1980s, the construction of Webb has posed a huge technical challenge. The team must build a mirror six times larger than Hubble’s and construct a vast sun shield the size of a tennis court, fold them up so they fit into an Ariane 5 rocket, then find a way to unfold them in space. This film tells the inside story of the James Webb Space Telescope in the words of the engineers who built it and the astronomers who will use it.

Documentaries, society

Facing Beauty: China’s plastic surgery addiction

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (45 minutes)  |  SOURCE: 4CORNERS

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“Up to now, my total spent is more than US$470,000. I feel to become someone I like; the price is worth it.” Beauty blogger

The plastic surgery industry in China is booming. Demand for cosmetic procedures is so widespread among the country’s young population it’s now estimated the industry will be worth $200 billion US by 2030.

“Because we are in a digital era now, we are in contact with the world more often. We hope to become more beautiful” Plastic surgeon

Four Corners examines the massive growth in China’s beauty obsession. The program meets the social media influencers and the ordinary young Chinese who are prepared to undergo extreme procedures to radically change their appearance.

“Everything you see is fake … I have done hair transplants, I have done cranial top procedure. I have done forehead fillers, operated on my eyebrow arch, my double eyelids have been injected with hyaluronic acid. My nose has undergone four surgeries and three types of fat fillers.” Social media influencer

The plastic surgery boom is being influenced by beauty apps which promote an ideal ratio in human facial features. Once faces are assessed users can have plans for surgeries drawn up and be connected to endorsed clinics.

“The app said that I can go for a nose job, because the bottom of the nose is really low, and inject facial fillers to improve the sunken cheeks, because I may have laugh lines, right? Overall, I feel that it is quite scientific.” 21-year-old student

The growth in the industry has led to an expansion of medical beauty institutions who employ staff without adequate medical qualifications. Whilst some extreme procedures have been banned the demand for cosmetic change continues.

“It is unlike 10 or 20 years ago where plastic surgery was something that was embarrassing, it’s not like that anymore. It is now popularised by the masses.” Medical consultant.

Documentaries, society

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (90 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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For more than 70 years, the UN has been at the forefront of work to uphold human rights and promote global peace. But what happens when the fixer of the world’s problems is itself faced with allegations of wrongdoing and corruption? What happens when UN staff try to call out their own managers and colleagues?

Told by insiders with decades of experience working at the world’s top diplomatic institution, The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN gives first-hand accounts of what happens to staff when they report allegations of wrongdoing. Their stories reveal a culture of untouchability that reaches the highest levels of the organisation.

The UN has more than 35,000 staff and most are protected by immunity from local laws once they are employed by the UN. This means staff complaints are investigated internally. The UN has a budget of more than £50 billion a year, and the whistleblowers allege a wide range of sexual abuse and corruption across many UN agencies, including the Human Rights Council, UN Development Programme, the World Food Programme and Unaids.

At great personal cost, the people in this film reveal their accounts of what happened when they tried to take on the UN’s hierarchy and the organisation’s culture of silence. Martina had been at Unaids for ten years when she filed a formal complaint against her boss for sexual harassment. “Since launching a complaint, since speaking out about what has happened to me, Unaids has retaliated in very mean and hurtful ways to the point that it has almost broken me.”

John was at the UNDP for three years before flagging his concerns about corruption with his managers. The UN thanked him for raising the complaints, but subsequently opened an investigation into him. “They still have my UNDP laptop – for four years now. So I don’t know what they are investigating, but they’ve had it for years and years. They spend more effort, more time, more resources to investigate the whistleblower than they do to investigate the corruption,” says John.

And how the very people who the UN are meant to be protecting, the most vulnerable, are not prioritised. Philip has spent 29 years reporting to the UN as a special rapporteur. “Human rights is not a strong priority for the current secretary-general. I think a lot of it comes back to the ethos that’s set by a secretary-general,” he says.

All the whistleblowers have spent years working for the UN and many believed it would be a career for life, and a place to make a real difference. mma, who worked at the UN Human Rights Council for ten years says: “Whistleblowers are often presented as somehow hating the UN altogether and wanting it to be disbanded, and nothing could be further from the truth. We just want it to be better.”

Documentaries, society

The Rescue: 54 Hours Under the Ground

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (59 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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After a freak accident, experienced caver George Linnane was left with multiple life-threatening injuries within Britain’s deepest cave system. This drama documentary set in the Brecon Beacons tells the story of his remarkable 54-hour-long rescue.

With George’s life hanging in the balance, a team of over 300 individuals came to the rescue, from Wales and across the UK, to try and save his life and bring him safely to the surface.

astronomy, Documentaries, technology

Brian Cox: Seven Days on Mars

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (~90 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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Professor Brian Cox fulfils a childhood dream by going behind the scenes at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mission control for Mars 2020 – one of the most ambitious missions ever launched that may finally reveal if life ever existed on the red planet.

In 1980, a young Brian Cox wrote to JPL asking for photos from some of their missions to the planets. The pictures they sent him from Voyager and the Viking mission to Mars were a source of inspiration that set him on the path to becoming a physicist.

Now, over 40 years later, he has been granted privileged access to JPL, including key mission areas that are usually off-limits to film crews. Brian spends a week following the team who guide the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter – the first powered aircraft ever sent to another planet – across the surface of Mars during a critical stage of the mission.

Perseverance’s goal is to search for signs of long extinct life on the surface of Mars in an area called Jezero Crater, which, 3.8 billion years ago, was filled by a vast lake. If it finds evidence of that life, it could change everything we know about life in the universe – and even transform our understanding of our own origins.

Documentaries, society, technology

The Electric Car Revolution: Winners and Losers

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

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The electric vehicle revolution is hotting up, and Tesla is leading the charge. The trillion-dollar car company is now worth more than all the other major car makers put together. But where does Tesla get the rare metal for its car batteries, and how ethical is its supply chain? Reporter Darragh MacIntyre meets the African nuns who say Elon Musk’s company must do better. They’re demanding the world’s richest man does more to protect some of the poorest people on the planet.

Documentaries, society

Taking us for a Ride: The Uber Files

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (29 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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Uber’s aggressive expansion across Europe sparked police raids and violent protests. The US tech firm attracted millions of customers by subsidising fares and undercutting traditional cabbies. Now, a leak of internal documents reveals how the company got away with it.

Reporter Richard Bilton uncovers how Uber broke laws, upended employment rights and got the backing of politicians as the company forced its way on to our streets.

Documentaries, nature, society

Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (58 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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Stephen Fry embarks on a fascinating journey to discover the stories behind some of the world’s most fantastic beasts.

Mythical creatures have fascinated us for thousands of years, but why are we still captivated by these mythological beasts, even in this modern age of science and technology? With the help of scientists, historians, writers and film-makers, Stephen finds out why the world of magical animals is more popular today than ever before.

By digging for dragons, meeting distant relatives of the unicorn or swimming with an unlikely inspiration for mermaids, Stephen uncovers the secrets behind some of our best-loved mythical creatures, and reveals the real-life beasts that have inspired some of the greatest legends in history, from rhinos to narwhals, vervet monkeys to manatees.

These are the stories of the world’s most fantastic beasts.

Documentaries, society

The Crime of the Century

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 2 parts (120 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: HBO

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The Crime of the Century is an American two-part documentary film, directed, produced, and written by Alex Gibney. The film follows the opioid epidemic in the United States, and the political operatives, government regulations and corporations that enable the abuse of opioids, particularly the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma.

episodes:

The film follows the opioid epidemic in the United States, the political operatives, government regulations, and corporations that enable the abuse of opioids. Part one of the documentary focuses on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, who collaborated with Food and Drug Administration official Curtis Wright IV to get OxyContin approved for wider use. Government regulations tried to mitigate wrongdoing, leading Purdue and other distributors to settle cases, keeping details private. Patrick Radden Keefe, Andrew Kolodny, Mark Ross, Anna Lembke, Lynn Webster, Roy Bosley, Barry Meier, Art Van Zee (town physician), Paul Pelletier and Giles Sartin appear in part one.

 

The documentary commentators blame the manufacturers and marketers of opioids, while Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family blame opioid users for abuse of drugs.

Part two of the documentary follows the mass marketing of Fentanyl. While the opioid crisis was killing over 40 people per day, Insys Therapeutics began to bribe doctors to overprescribe the drug, and a complex scheme to defraud insurance companies with fraudulent marketing tactics, and lawmakers who turned a blind eye to the crisis. Joe Rannazzisi (a retired DEA Agent), Jonathan Novak, Sari Horowitz, Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein, David Lazarus, Nathaniel Yeager, Fred Wyshak, Ed Byrne, Will Kimbell, Alec Burkaloff, Sunrise Lee and Caleb Lainer appear in part two.

 

The DEA's Diversion Control Division ensures that opioid pharmaceutical drugs are not diverted to the black market.

 

Fentanyl is designed to manage the "breakthrough pain" of cancer patients who are near death; the drug is supposed to alleviate their suffering before death.

 

According to Scott Higham and other commentators, there is an oligopoly of drug distributors: the three main companies are McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen.

 

Former U.S. deputy AG Jamie Gorelick is accused of lobbying on behalf of the drug industry. Similarly, former DEA lawyer Linden Barber is said to have become a lobbyist on behalf of Cardinal Health.

 

Donald Trump nominates Tom Marino to become the "drug czar" in 2017.

Documentaries, society

Recycling: Where Does My Rubbish Go?

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (29 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

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The logo of US-based company TerraCycle is on the packaging of many of our household goods. The company says it wants to eliminate the idea of waste and that it has recycled more than seven billion items, including hard-to-recycle plastics, worldwide. Reporting for Panorama, Mobeen Azhar investigates TerraCycle’s green credentials and its relationship with major brands.

Documentaries, society

Navalny

YEAR: 2022 | LENGTH: 1 part (99 minutes)  |  SOURCE: CNN/HBO

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The film tells about the events related to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the subsequent investigation into the poisoning. On 20 August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent,[6] falling sick during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and was hospitalized in serious condition. Navalny was taken to a hospital in Omsk after an emergency landing there, and put in a coma. Two days later, he was evacuated to the Charité hospital in Berlin, Germany. The use of the nerve agent was confirmed by five Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) certified laboratories. Navalny blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for his poisoning, while the Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement.

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