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Documentaries, nature, society

The Islands and the Whales

YEAR: 2017 | LENGTH: 1 part (80 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Documentary exploring how polluted oceans are posing a threat to hunting traditions on the Faroe Islands.

In their remote home in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islanders have always eaten what nature could provide, proud to put local food on the table. The land yields little, so they have always relied on harvesting the sea. Hunting whales and seabirds has kept islanders alive for generations, providing a traditional way of life to pass onto future generations.

It is not controversy surrounding whaling that threatens this Faroese way of life, but the whales themselves. The islanders are among the first to feel the impact of increasingly polluted oceans as the whales become toxic, contaminated by the outside world. What once secured survival now endangers their children, and the Faroe Islanders must make a choice between health and tradition.

astronomy, Documentaries


YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 5 episodes (~60 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Professor Brian Cox journeys across the vastness of time and space revealing epic moments of sheer drama that changed the universe forever.


Professor Brian Cox begins his epic exploration of the cosmos with a hymn to the great luminous bodies that bring light and warmth to the universe: the stars. It is estimated that there are two hundred trillion stars in the universe, each playing their part in an epic story of creation- a great saga that stretches from the dawn of time, with the arrival of the first star, through diverse generations until the arrival of our own star, the sun, and a civilisation that has grown up in its light.

Humans have long gazed up at the night sky, wondering whether other lifeforms and intelligences could be thriving on worlds far beyond our own.


Answering that question seemed fated to remain pure speculation. But over the last few decades, ultra-sensitive telescopes and dogged detective work have transformed alien planet-hunting from science fiction into hard fact. Gone are the days of speculation; the hunt for extraterrestrials has become a matter of serious scientific inquiry.


As the hunt for alien worlds began, we expected to find worlds similar to the planets in our own solar system, but we instead discovered a riot of exotic worlds. Vivid animation based on data from the most successful planet hunter of them all, the Kepler space telescope, brings these worlds into view: puffy planets with the density of polystyrene, unstable worlds orbiting two suns and 1,000-degree, broiling gas giants with skies whipped into titanic winds.


But perhaps the most startling discovery was the number of worlds that may be contenders for a second Earth. Our latest survey of the galaxy estimates that there are billions of rocky planets at the right distance from their sun to have that ingredient so crucial for life as we know it, liquid water. Amongst them, we witness the most tantalizing discovery of all: a so-called ‘super-Earth’, situated in the Goldilocks zone - the area just the right distance from a sun to potentially support life - and with the faint signal of water in its atmosphere.


With over 2,800 exoplanets confirmed by Kepler and discoveries still rolling in, Brian lays out his own answer to the age-old question with thrilling new science: are we alone?

Professor Brian Cox continues his epic exploration of the cosmos by looking at the faint band of light that sweeps across the night sky - our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The Sun is just one of almost 400 billion stars that form this vast, majestic disk of light, our own home in the universe. We’ve longed to understand our galaxy’s secrets since the time of the ancient Greeks, yet it’s only very recently, thanks to a cutting-edge space telescope, that we’re finally able to reveal the Milky Way’s dramatic history and predict its cataclysmic future.


One mission more than any other has deepened our understanding of the galaxy, the European Space Agency’s Gaia Space Telescope. It painstakingly measures the true position of over a billion stars, producing the most accurate map of our galaxy ever created. But more than mapping stars, Gaia also measures their movement, allowing us to track their positions back through time - to rewind the history of the Milky Way. It has created a new kind of science: galactic archaeology.


Our galaxy started to form shortly after the Big Bang around 13.6 billion years ago. It started out a fraction of the size it is today, and Gaia has revealed how it grew over the eons. Beautifully rendered VFX based on the very latest Gaia data has uncovered the remarkable story of our galaxy’s evolution. As our young galaxy encountered rival galaxies, it experienced a series of violent growth spurts and intense periods of cataclysmic change while battling to survive.


Over billions of years, our Milky Way cannibalised neighbouring galaxies, adding countless new stars and triggering great epochs of creation. Brian reveals we may even owe our own existence to one of these galactic collisions. Each time our galaxy feeds, a new era of star formation begins, fuelled by incoming torrents of fresh gas and energy. The latest evidence suggests that our own star was possibly born in one such event.


We may be small compared to the universe, but we are the consequence of grand events, and there is another collision to come. Another, larger galaxy is coming our way. Andromeda is heading straight for us at a quarter of a million miles per hour. The Milky Way’s long-term fate is in the balance.

Professor Brian Cox continues his epic exploration of the universe with a journey into darkness. The centre of our galaxy is home to an invisible monster of unimaginable power – a supermassive black hole named Sagittarius A*. Weighing four million times the mass of the Sun, it’s an object with such an immense gravitational field that nothing can escape – not even light.


For decades, black holes existed purely in the minds of theoretical physicists – the idea was so absurd, scientists thought they couldn’t possibly exist in nature. But recent astronomical breakthroughs have confirmed not only that black holes like Sagittarius A* exist, but that these bizarre invisible objects may be the ultimate galactic protagonists.


Stunning CGI takes us back to witness the fiery origins of our galaxy’s black hole 13.6 billion years ago, when the early universe was home to colossal blue stars hundreds of times more massive than our sun. These stars lived fast and died young, and when they ran out of fuel, they collapsed under their own enormous mass, crushing down into an object so small and so dense it punched a hole in the fabric of the universe. That is how our galaxy’s black hole was born.


The story of Sagittarius A* is a tale of both destruction and creation. Over billions of years, it feasted on nearby gas and stars, and through cataclysmic mergers with other black holes it sent ripples through the fabric of the universe. But Brian reveals that we have recently come to understand how our black hole is also an agent of creation. A breakthrough discovery by Nasa’s Fermi gamma-ray telescope has shown that our black hole once had the power to sculpt the entire galaxy, creating vast bubbles of gas above and below our galaxy that persist to this day. We may even have Sagittarius A* to thank for our own existence.


In a mind-bending conclusion, Brian reveals how our modern understanding of black holes is challenging our concepts of reality to the breaking point. He takes us on a trip inside Sagittarius A*, where we discover that the interior of a black hole is not a tomb but a gateway to the end of the universe. And weirder still, in trying to understand the fate of objects that fall into Sagittarius A*, scientists have come to a stunning conclusion: space and time, concepts so foundational to how we experience the world around us, are not as fundamental as we once thought.

Professor Brian Cox asks the ultimate question: how did the universe come to be? It is daunting in its scale. We live on one planet of eight that orbit just one of the 400 billion stars in our galaxy, which in turn is one of trillions in the universe. Yet it is amongst those galaxies that we have been able to unravel the story of the universe’s creation. Thanks to a series of discoveries, our most powerful space missions have unravelled 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution and revealed the story of our universe from its birth all the way to the arrival of our nascent civilisation.


Our guide on this odyssey back to the dawn of time is light. Telescopes are time machines - by looking out into the distant universe, they open a window to the past. One telescope more than any other has helped us journey through the history of the universe: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Over the course of three decades, Hubble has shown us cosmic evolution in action – including stars and planets being born and galaxies colliding. Remarkably, Hubble has even found one of the first galaxies ever to exist in the universe, which was born some 13.4 billion years ago. It's a discovery that hints at the beginnings of our own Milky Way. Vivid CGI brings this ancient galaxy to life, allowing us to witness for ourselves the first dawn. It was the beginning of a relationship between stars and planets that would, on a faraway world, lead to the origin of life - and ultimately to us.


Hubble’s incredible discoveries have allowed scientists to piece together much of our cosmic story, but it cannot take us back to the most important moment in history: the Big Bang. For decades, the moment the universe began was the subject of pure speculation, but by combining astronomy and cosmology, scientists have finally found a way to put their theories to the test and study the momentous events that took place during the Big Bang. They can do this because the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope has seen the afterglow of the Big Bang itself – something we call the cosmic microwave background. The unparalleled detail Planck gave us has helped confirm something remarkable: the Big Bang may not be the beginning. There was a time before the dawn – a place beyond anything we can comprehend. Brian transports us back to the fraction of a second before the Big Bang, when the seeds of our universe were planted.


The story of our universe's origin is an improbable odyssey, one that helps us understand how we came to be here, contemplating this vast cosmic drama.

Documentaries, society

How to Become a Tyrant

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 6 parts (30 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


The narrator states that everybody wants absolute power to transform society to their liking and proceeds to explain how such power can be obtained and sustained. The docu-series proceeds to analyze biographies of historical dictators Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin, Muammar Gaddafi and the Kim family.


Interested in becoming a tyrant? There are rules, and the playbook for a rise to dictatorship starts with one of history's most brutal: Adolf Hitler.

You've secured your place at the top, but maintaining power means watching your back. Nobody did that better or more ruthlessly than Saddam Hussein.

When keeping your population under control, is it better to be loved or feared? Idi Amin certainly thought he knew the right answer to that question.

Through public relations spin, revisionist history and censorship. Soviet autocrat Joseph Stalin found a certain flexibility with the truth useful.

Free speech? Right to assembly? Rebel-turned-dictator Muammar Gaddafi realized that civil liberties had to go when reshaping society. But he got soft.

Seizing power is hard, but keeping it is harder. In North Korea, the Kim dynasty unlocked the secret to ruling forever: They declared themselves gods.

Documentaries, society

The Men Who Sell Football

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (66 minutes)  |  SOURCE: ALJAZEERA


Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposes how English football clubs can be bought by criminals and become vehicles to launder the proceeds of their crimes.
A new documentary and podcast series, The Men Who Sell Football, provide a startling insight into the murky world of football finance, ownership and governance in the wealthiest and most popular league in the world.
With football still reeling from the European Super League fiasco, we meet middlemen who explain how they are able to hide corrupt money behind opaque offshore trusts; submit fraudulent due diligence reports; employ “dirty tricks”; and give criminals false identities.
Posing as representatives of Mr X, a criminal on the run from China after being convicted in absentia for bribery and money laundering, undercover reporters from the I-Unit reach the brink of striking a deal to buy Derby County, one of England’s oldest football clubs.
The football authorities’ Owners’ and Directors’ Test bars from owning a club anybody who has an unspent criminal conviction with a sentence of more than 12 months.
Christopher Samuelson, an offshore trust expert and football deal maker, gives a step-by-step guide on how he can use offshore trusts to hide our criminal investor’s money and identity. In the 1990s, he helped Russian oligarchs move hundreds of millions of dollars out of Russia.
He says he will ensure our criminal investor is approved by the English Football League. “I’ll come up with an idea of how we can structure it, so we defeat the EFL,” he says.
Samuelson and his associate, Keith Hunter, a private investigator and former Scotland Yard detective, say they can help obtain a new passport for the criminal investor – with a new name – to deceive the football authorities.
Hunter introduces our undercover operatives to contacts in Cyprus. In a series of meetings, a network of enablers express a willingness to help him obtain a passport and a new identity.
The story of the Cyprus passports was told in Al Jazeera’s Bafta-nominated documentary released in October 2020, called The Cyprus Papers Undercover. It led to high-level resignations and weeks of anti-corruption demonstrations.
In response to the I-Unit’s findings, Christopher Samuelson’s lawyers said that he had never been told that Mr. X had a criminal conviction for money laundering and bribery. Had he known of any criminality, he would have ended discussions immediately.
Keith Hunter refused to engage with the details of our findings but said that he strongly disputed most of them. Hunter said that he left the Police with an exemplary record.
Mel Morris, the owner of Derby County F.C., told us the club would only be sold to “appropriate custodians” and that they had not had any “formal association” with Samuelson for some time.

Documentaries, society

Crip Camp

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (108 minutes)  |  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA


In the early 1970s, teenagers with disabilities faced a future shaped by isolation, discrimination and institutionalization. Camp Jened, a ramshackle camp “for the handicapped” in the Catskills, exploded those confines. Jened was their freewheeling Utopia, a place with summertime sports, smoking and makeout sessions awaiting everyone, and campers who felt fulfilled as human beings. Their bonds endured as they migrated West to Berkeley, California – a promised land for a growing and diverse disability community – where friends from Camp Jened realized that disruption and unity might secure life-changing accessibility for millions. Co-directed by Emmy®-winning filmmaker Nicole Newnham and film mixer and former camper Jim LeBrecht, this joyous and exuberant documentary arrives the same year as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at a time when the country’s largest minority group still battles daily for the freedom to exist.

Documentaries, nature

The Octopus in My House

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


A professor develops an extraordinary relationship with an octopus when he invites it to live in his home. The octopus, called Heidi, unravels puzzles, recognises individual humans and even watches TV with the family.

The episode also shows remarkable behaviour from around the world – from the day octopus, which can change colour and texture in a split second, to the coconut octopus, which carries around its own coconut shell to hide in. But most fascinating of all is seeing how Professor David Scheel and his daughter Laurel bond with an animal that has nine brains, three hearts and blue blood running through its veins

Documentaries, society

Portugal’s Avocados: Green Gold or Ecological Nightmare

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (28 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW


The avocado is a new superfood and its cultivation has been increasing worldwide, including in southern Portugal. But avocado plantations suck up the water in the already drought-stricken country. Local residents and small farmers are fighting back.

Matthew Ambrose had imagined his ninth summer running a vacation quinta in Portugal quite differently. For decades, Matthew ran bars and discos in the UK. Now he wants to live a quieter life in a small guesthouse surrounded by a green garden, with his donkey, a pony and two dogs. But he fears that his only well will run dry and his land will become barren. Noisy excavators surround his property. A large Portuguese fruit-growing company is tearing up cork oak and prickly pear trees and laying water pipes to create a 50-hectare avocado plantation. Three deep wells have already been sunk – even though, as Matthew points out, locals are strictly forbidden from drilling new wells after many years of low rainfall and forest fires. But the company got permits from the Portuguese authorities. Matthew frets that the company will intensively operate the plantation for ten or 20 years, causing the water table to drop and wells in the area to dry up and leaving the soil depleted and without nutrients. Despite this, the authorities are approving increasingly larger plantations, which are also promoted by the EU. This report talks to avocado farmers, local residents and citizens’ groups and asks: Are Portugal’s avocados like “green gold” – or just a short-term money-spinner with expensive long-term consequences?

Documentaries, technology

Are You Scared Yet, Human?

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (59 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC


From Amazon’s Alexa to improvements in cancer care, artificial intelligence is changing our world. But today leading tech figures from Silicon Valley worry about the future that’s being created. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, believes George Orwell’s 1984 could become reality by 2024. Panorama has uncovered new evidence of AI being used by police in China to recognise the emotions of detainees in order to help determine guilt or innocence. China has vowed to become the world’s AI superpower by 2030, sparking a new arms race with America. Both countries are pouring billions into cutting-edge military tech, including autonomous weapons. AI could usher in a golden age, but without urgent regulation, experts warn we could lose control of artificial intelligence, a prospect, they say, that should scare us all.

Documentaries, society

Fight for the Climate

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 1 part (24 minutes)  |  SOURCE: VPRO


In the Netherlands, 200,000 young people are worried about the demise of the world and the major climate disasters they might experience. They learn from Greta Thunberg that the world will end if we continue like this. Climate depression and eco-anxiety have recently become official diagnoses. There is a strong feeling among these teens and the 20-somethings of today that they need to clean up the mess for the generations before them.

In this short documentary we see three young people who turn their climate concerns into action. How far will they go and how lonely is their struggle?

Robin (26 years old, who/when) is one of the initiators of action group Extinction Rebellion and fights for a just and clean fashion industry. Robin goes bare-breasted in the window of a fashion store where they glue themselves to the store window, to draw attention to greenwashing of the fast fashion chain.

Melih (16 years old, he/he) lives in two worlds. On the one hand, the world of his Turkish parents, his father is a climate denier and with his mother he has to eat meat, and his friends in Amstelveen. On the other hand, the world of Fridays for Future. With his friends at this platform for students he goes to strikes and meetings. Together they organize climate actions.

Like his father and brother, Armando (21 years old, he/he) went to study technical business administration, but quickly saw that the ‘business way’ is not the solution to the climate problem. He quit his studies and joined Extinction Rebellion. Since then, he has organized many a major action. His concerns about the climate led him to burnout.

biology, Documentaries, medicine

Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook

YEAR: 2017 | LENGTH: 6 parts (~60 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: BBC


Surgeon Gabriel Weston introduces us to people from across the globe with the world’s most unique bodies.


Surgeon Gabriel Weston uncovers the rare and extraordinary cases that are bringing new discoveries about the human body and leading to the medical cures of the future.

This week, we meet a girl whose heart has formed outside her ribcage, a man who can spend nine minutes underwater without taking a breath, a woman who is growing a second skeleton and a paralysed man who is regaining movement thanks to a chip implanted into his brain that can 'read' his brain signals.

In this episode, we take a look at the human body's amazing capacity for survival. We meet a man who injects himself with deadly snake venom, a woman who leads a normal life with only half a brain, a girl who collapses 50 times a day and the only man in the world to be completely cured of HIV.

This time, we meet a man who feels no pain, a woman who can smell Parkinson's disease, a man who can remember every face he has ever seen and a survivor of a head injury who woke up to find he could suddenly play the piano. These remarkable cases are shedding new light on one of the most mysterious parts of the human body - our brain.

This time, we meet a girl with two hearts, a man who can sing two notes at once, a woman who can bend in amazing ways, a girl who is allergic to everything and a man who can run 350 miles without stopping. These remarkable cases reveal the secret inner workings of our bodies - the ultimate piece of natural engineering.

This time, Gabriel uncovers the stories of a man with bones as strong as granite, a woman who became pregnant with twins in two separate wombs, a girl whose arm won't stop growing and a woman who gets lost in her own home.

Surgeon Gabriel Weston uncovers the rare and extraordinary cases that are bringing new discoveries about the human body and leading to the medical cures of the future. This week, we meet a girl whose heart has formed outside her ribcage, a man who can spend nine minutes underwater without taking a breath, a woman who is growing a second skeleton and a paralysed man who is regaining movement thanks to a chip implanted into his brain that can 'read' his brain signals.

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.