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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

Science Britannica: Frankenstein Monsters

   2013    Culture
Professor Brian Cox grapples with science's darker side, asking why, when science has done so much for us, it often gets such a bad press. Starting with the original Frankenstein - the grisly 19th century tale of George Foster's hanging and subsequent 'electrocution', Brian confronts the idea that science can go 'too far'. From the nuclear bomb to genetic modification, British science has always been at the cutting edge of discovery, but are British scientists feckless meddlers, or misunderstood visionaries whose gifts to humanity are corrupted by the unscrupulous?
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer

   2015    History
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece

   2013    History
The Story of China
The Story of China

   2016    History
Inside the Medieval Mind
Inside the Medieval Mind

   2008    History
Living Universe
Living Universe

   2018    Technology
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead

   2017    History
How Art Made the World
How Art Made the World

   2006    Art
Hidden Kingdoms
Hidden Kingdoms

   2014    Nature