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Caligula

   2013    History
Two thousand years ago one of history's most notorious individuals was born. Professor Mary Beard embarks on an investigative journey to explore the life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus - better known to us as Caligula. Caligula has now become known as Rome's most capricious tyrant, and the stories told about him are some of the most extraordinary told about any Roman emperor. He was said to have made his horse a consul, proclaimed himself a living God, and indulged in scandalous orgies - even with his own three sisters - and that's before you mention building vast bridges across land and sea, prostituting senators' wives and killing half the Roman elite seemingly on a whim. All that in just four short years in power before a violent and speedy assassination in a back alley of his own palace at just 28-years-old." But how much of his story is true? Travelling across the Roman world - from Germany and Capri in the bay of Naples to the astonishing luxury of his life in imperial Rome - Mary attempts to peel away the myths. Some stories are difficult to get to the bottom of as they were written by hacks long after his death, but there is plenty of surviving evidence where the 'real' Caligula can be glimpsed. Such as in the extraordinary luxury of his private yachts outside Rome; in the designs he chose for his coins when he became Emperor; in an eye-witness account of Caligula's withering humour written in 41AD; the trial documents covering the mysterious death of his father when he was just seven-years-old; and even in a record of his imperial slaves - from the palace spy to his personal trainer. Piecing together the evidence, Mary puts Caligula back into the context of his times to reveal an astonishing story of murder, intrigue and dynastic family power. Above all, she explains why Caligula has ended up with such a seemingly unredeemable reputation. In the process, she reveals a more intriguing portrait of not just the monster, but the man.

Night Will Fall

   2014    History
Researchers discover film footage from World War II that turns out to be a lost documentary shot by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein in 1945 about German concentration camps liberated by allied troops. When Allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1944-45, their terrible discoveries were recorded by army and newsreel cameramen, revealing for the first time the full horror of what had happened. Making use of British, Soviet and American footage, the Ministry of Information’s Sidney Bernstein (later founder of Granada Television) aimed to create a documentary that would provide lasting, undeniable evidence of the Nazis’ unspeakable crimes. He commissioned a wealth of British talent, including editor Stewart McAllister, writer and future cabinet minister Richard Crossman – and, as treatment advisor, his friend Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, despite initial support from the British and US Governments, the film was shelved, and only now, 70 years on, has it been restored and completed by Imperial War Museums. This eloquent, lucid documentary by André Singer (executive producer of the award-winning The Act of Killing) tells the extraordinary story of the filming of the camps and the fate of Bernstein’s project, using original archive footage and eyewitness testimonies.

Searching for Sugar Man

   2012    History
In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well received but non-selling albums. Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. Long rumored there to be dead by suicide, a few fans in the 1990s decided to seek out the truth of their hero's fate. What follows is a bizarrely heartening story in which they found far more in their quest than they ever hoped, while a Detroit construction labourer discovered that his lost artistic dreams came true after all.

Seal Team Six The Raid on Osama Bin Laden

   2012    History
When the rumoured whereabouts of Osama bin Laden are revealed, the CIA readies a team of seasoned U.S. Navy Seals for the mission of a lifetime. Despite inconclusive evidence that bin Laden is inside the compound, and ignoring the possible ramifications of an unannounced attack on Pakistani soil, the Pentagon orders the attack. The Seal Team bands together to complete their mission of justice in a riveting final showdown.

Steve Jobs Man in the Machine

   2015    History
Directed by Alex Gibney, it follows the life and work of ex-Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Gibney starts the doc by showing how much people around the world worship Steve Jobs as if he were an idol. He then provides you with a wealth of background information about Jobs' childhood, teenage and college years including how he formed Apple Inc. Fortunately, not all of the doc is hagiography because Gibney does briefly delve into the darker side of Jobs, particularly how selfish he was and mistreated those around him including his ex-wife. Jobs comes across as a charming, intelligent narcissist who knows how to captivate an audience whenever he speaks. In other words, like all great narcissists, he's a very good actor. Gibney certainly knows how to choose the right subject because Jobs' complexity makes him all the more captivating and worthy of a feature-length film. As is usually the case with Gibney's docs, this one is slickly-edited and has just the right amount of comic relief, mostly in the brief video of an young boy joyfully lists all of Apple's technological devices that Steve Jobs created. You'll catch a glimpse of what makes Jobs fallible, and find a little mildly provocative food for thought about the advancement of modern technology, i.e. how technology helps to connect us to one another yet alienates us at the same time.
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Clash of the Gods
Clash of the Gods

   2009    History
Generation Iron
Generation Iron

   2018    Culture
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Chef's Table
Chef's Table

   2017    Art