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Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

   2014    Culture
This documentary looks at the remarkable genius of Orson Welles on his centenary - the enigma of his career as a Hollywood star, a Hollywood director (for some a Hollywood failure), and a crucially important independent filmmaker. Orson Welles's life was magical: a musical prodigy at age 10, a director of Shakespeare at 14, a painter at 16, a star of stage and radio at 20, romances with some of the most beautiful women in the world, including Rita Hayworth. His work was similarly extraordinary, most notably Citizen Kane, (considered by many to be the most important movie ever made), created by Welles when he was only 25. In the years following Citizen Kane, Welles's career continued to change as he made film after film (some never finished, many dismissed) and acted in other projects often to earn money in order to keep making his own films. Magician features scenes from almost every existing Welles film, from Hearts of Age, (which he made in a day when he was only 18 years old) to rarely-seen clips from his final unfinished works like The Other Side of the Dream, The Deep, and Don Quixote, as well as his television and commercial work.

Escaping ISIS

   2015    Culture
In August 2014, ISIS militants raided a Yazidi village in Syria, kidnapping thousands of men, women and children. Hundreds of the kidnapped men were killed or forced to convert to Islam; the women and children were sold as sex slaves or to marry ISIS fighters. Many were raped or became victims of other forms of sexual violence. Escaping ISIS depicts 34 of those captured by militants last year — mostly women and young children — reuniting with their families as they escape to freedom". Some victims were brought to freedom through underground networks, guides inside ISIS and resistance fighters. Women contacted the resistance fighters, begging for rescue; some said the alternative is committing suicide. Many escapees walk for several days with little food and water, often barefoot, risking getting recaptured and killed. One resistance fighter was shot in the back of the head in ISIS territory after they found out that he was working against them. The documentary shows parts of this treacherous journey to freedom.

The Armstrong Lie

   2013    Culture
Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) masterfully explores the fall of the disgraced cycling champion following the 2009 Tour de France, making use of his extraordinary access to attain rare interviews with former teammates, alleged doping mastermind Dr. Michele Ferrari, and Armstrong himself. What was Lance Armstrong thinking? For years, after seizing international fame as the cancer survivor who won seven Tour de France titles, he fiercely denied accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He used his power to aggressively litigate journalists and publicly humiliate former friends who claimed otherwise. His deceit finally cracked in January 2013, when he admitted guilt to Oprah Winfrey in a television interview that critics decried for only scratching the surface. Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney approaches Armstrong with unique and extraordinary access. In 2009, Gibney was commissioned to make a film about Armstrong's return to the Tour de France, four years after the racing champion had declared retirement. That race would later stir up devastating evidence in the case against Armstrong. But Gibney came away from the experience unable to reconcile the discrepancy between doping allegations and Armstrong's emphatic denials. Then, post-Oprah, Gibney went back to Armstrong for new interviews to extract a more detailed account of his double life. In The Armstrong Lie, Gibney masterfully explores the complexities of the case, interweaving the dramatic action of the 2009 Tour de France, when Armstrong found himself unexpectedly competing against his own teammate Alberto Contador. Gibney attains rare interviews with Armstrong's former teammates and alleged doping mastermind Dr. Michele Ferrari. The film also raises troubling questions about the process of doping regulation. Recently, when asked to give advice to documentary filmmakers, Gibney responded with a motto exemplified by this film: "Embrace contradictions."

The Internets Own Boy. The Story of Aaron Swartz

   2014    Culture
the rise and fall of a tech industry prodigy. Interviews with his friends and loved ones paint a portrait of Swartz as a martyr of freedom of information and hail his fight for the public's right to access tax-funded academic and scientific research, culminating in a personally devastating two-year Federal lawsuit." An avid researcher who had previously accessed otherwise private databases, Swartz, acting "in the grand tradition of civil disobedience to declare... opposition to this private theft of public culture" used MIT computers to access tax-funded research that would otherwise be held privately by for-profit publishers, an incident many viewers may remember from national headlines just a few year ago. Though neither MIT nor the digital repository Swartz accessed pressed charges, a US Attorney stepped in and filed a 13-count felony charge against Swartz, threatening him with over $1 million in fines and up to 35 years of jail time. Despite the defense of his peers, these events launched Swartz into a two-year long downward spiral of withdrawal and depression. Aaron Swartz's untimely death at the age of 26.

The Oceans

   2011    Culture
Human Planet is a majestic portrait of humankind and the power of nature in extraordinary symbiosis, struggle and strife. For the first time, the camera has turned on ourselves. In doing so, we see how amazing human beings can be and how we adapt to any habitat, anywhere. Human Planet is epic in ambition, extreme in content, intimate in effect. It explores how we have devised ways of surviving in every corner of Earth – from the remotest deserts to the busiest urban metropolis. Each episode focuses on an iconic environment and reveals how we have adapted to the challenges of the landscape and the endless diversity of animals and plants we live with. Discover how our remarkable intelligence, tool use, and close-knit social lives have enabled us to cope with just about anything nature can throw at us". As an air-breathing animal, the human is not built to survive in water. But people have found ways to live an almost aquatic life so they can exploit the sea's riches. From a 'shark-whisperer' in the Pacific to Brazilian fishermen collaborating with dolphins to catch mullet, this journey into the blue reveals astonishing tales of ingenuity and bravery. Daredevil Galician barnacle-collectors defy death on the rocks for a catch worth 200 pounds per kilo. In Indonesia an epic whale-hunt, using traditional hand-made boats and harpoons, brings in a sperm whale. The Bajau 'sea gypsies' of the Sulu Sea spend so much time on water they get 'land sick' when they set foot on the land! We dive 40 metres down to the dangerous world of the Pa-aling fishermen, where dozens of young men, breathing air through a tangled web of pipes attached to a diesel engine, capture thousands of fish in a vast net. We see how surfing has its origins in the ancient beliefs of the ocean-loving Polynesians, and we join a Borneo free-diving spear-fisherman on a breath-taking journey 20 metres down in search of supper.
Series: Human Planet
The Cell
The Cell

   2009    Science
Dinosaur Planet
Dinosaur Planet

   2003    Science
The Real History of Science Fiction
The Real History of Science Fiction

   2014    Technology
Breakthrough
Breakthrough

   2015    Medicine
The Private Life of Plants
The Private Life of Plants

   1994    Nature
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
Wings
Wings

      Nature
Wonders of Life
Wonders of Life

   2013    Science