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1.

Place Without People

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A Place Without People: Tanzania tells the story of the eviction of the indigenous people from their lands in Tanzania, to make way for the creation of the world's most famous nature reserves. In Tanzania, one of the poorest nations in the world, the government, the tourist industry and conservation organizations have advanced the idea that Africans are intruders into what was once a pristine Garden of Eden. The film describes how before World War II the land of the Maasai was seized by British colonialists to set aside for their own sport -- hunting. But as game grew scarce, the British realized they should preserve it and the Serengeti was turned into a vast national park in the 1950's and '60's. This land, possibly the longest-inhabited place on earth, was labelled a 'primordial w [...]
Online
2009
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2.

Still Breathing

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Rob Fraser was born with cystic fibrosis and always knew his life would be cut short. With wry humor he observes that at thirty -three he has outlived his alotted time. We watch his struggle for dignity against the humiliating effects of illness and the tendency of caregivers to lose sight of his humanity. Rob has confronted the philosophical issues most of us struggle with all of our lives; the meaning of life and death, body and soul. Rob s remarkably frank discussions of his situation illustrate his huge capacity for life: for him, the surf seems bigger and his guitar sounds sweeter than it might otherwise. He is down-to-earth and gets irritated with pills, hospitals and the medical system; yet he realizes he is utterly dependent on them. Rob has decided that he is ready to risk e [...]
Online
2003
3.

Stealing History

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The looting of ancient artifacts from the troubled regions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is an ongoing scandal. This film reveals the closely knit network of looters, smugglers, dealers, collectors and academics which encourages this illegal trade. The huge scale of the thefts of precious artworks like "magic" bowls from Mesopotamia and the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism, have led to police investigations in Britain, Norway and Afghanistan. Since the film was shown in Europe, one of the world s largest collectors, was forced to return some of the articles to their countries of origin. Archaeolgist Dr. Erika Hunter had been studying artifacts from Iraq since the late 1980s. In the early 1990s she was offered a huge cache to study. She and Dr. Robert Knox, the Asia Curator [...]
Online
2007
4.

Sugar: The Rules of the Game

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Sugar examines the complex world of international commerce by looking at the major players in the sugar industry -- European and African farmers, major sugar production companies on both continents, experts and officials. The report shows how decisions made at distant international meetings affect the lives of individuals. Antonio Maolela cuts sugar cane on a plantation in Mozambique. He earns about two euros a day working from dawn til dusk. Honorio Valdunciel is a farmer from Zamora, Spain whose main source of income comes from growing sugar beet. Though he makes a decent income, it requires hard work and much investment. The future of both men is tied to the controversial price of sugar in world markets. Sugar prices in the European Union and the U.S. are highly protected by tarif [...]
Online
2004
5.

Sweet Old Song

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Acclaimed African American musician Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, 91, is renowned for a lifetime of jazz, blues, folk and country music. He has been performing since the 1920s, when his father carved his first fiddle from a wooden crate. The National Endowment for the Arts has honored him as a "national treasure." But when Armstrong at 73 met Barbara Ward, a sculptor thirty years his junior, a new chapter of his life and art unfolded. Sweet Old Song is the story of Armstrong and Ward s courtship and marriage -- a unique partnership that inspired an outpouring of art and music. Their creative work draws on nearly a century of African American experience, beginning with Armstrong s vivid stories and paintings of his childhood in a segregated town in Tennessee. A tireless artist and c [...]
Online
2001
6.

Terror at Home

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The statistics are shocking. One in three women face the threat of domestic abuse. Thirty-seven per cent of emergency hospital visits by women are a result of domestic violence. In the United States, 1500 women are murdered each year by their husbands or boyfriends. This film provides an unflinching look at some of the personal stories that lie behind these statistics. The violence cuts across all lines--racial, educational and financial. We meet working-class women and wealthy women living in million-dollar homes; their vulnerability and their response to their abuse is strikingly similar. Many women are ashamed of the situation and hide it from family members who could be of help. Nor do they think that calling the police is a safe option. Responsibility to their children further c [...]
Online
2006
7.

The Big Lie

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This is a global court room drama where the stakes are billions of dollars -- and the health of countless people who are being seduced into smoking by aggressive marketing strategies. The case started in Australia where Rolah McCabe, a smoker since she was nine years old, was terminally ill with lung cancer. She sued British American Tobacco for manipulating the truth regarding its research on the hazards of smoking. It appears that fifty years of data on research by British American Tobacco have gone missing due to a company policy to systematically destroy the incriminating documents. The cast of characters includes McCabe's attorney, Peter Gordon, a dedicated public interest lawyer; Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a nicotine addiction specialist and former employee of the tobacco company; and [...]
Online
2006
8.

The Conscience of a Warrior Nation

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A small core of reservist in the Israeli army have refused to serve in Gaza and the West Bank, on moral grounds. They have subjected themselves to jail terms and harsh recriminations. The "refusers" are not pacifists, or cowards; they are willing to serve their country anywhere else but in the occupied territories. One of the organizers, Lieutenant Zonsheine, commended for bravery on the Lebanese front, speaks of his experiences in Ramallah, Hebron and Yenin which polarized him. He saw how searching for Palestinian terrorists in densely populated areas was creating havoc for young and old. With other reservists he published "The Fighters Letter" announcing that they would no longer serve in territories taken by Israel in the 67 war. The group is now five hundred strong, including one [...]
Online
2003
9.

The Lost City: Beijing

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This enlightening film looks at the issues of urban gentrification and preservation in Beijing today. For the past decade many of the city's old neighborhoods, the ancient, densely populated enclaves of narrow, winding streets and crumbling courtyard houses have been steadily demolished due to industrialization and modernization. The houses called "hutongs," were built around a central courtyard which provided structure for each family's development. Many were labelled unsafe by the government and have now been replaced by office towers and high-rise apartments. Much of the devastation has occurred in the Quianmen neighborhood, once the domain of the Qing dynasty (1644 -1911). For centuries it was filled with hutongs, opera halls and boarding houses filled with scholars. Quianmen is [...]
Online
2007
10.

The Lost Magic of the Shanghai Art Studios

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At the end of the 1950's, the Shanghai Art Studios were among the most important in the world. They employed 500 workers and were acclaimed all over China. In "The Lost Magic of the Shanghai Art Studios," numerous beautiful film extracts, paintings and drawings illustrate that the Shanghai Studio's creativity was comparable to the work of the Disney Studio, but reflected a more delicate sensibility. The studio chief, Wang Laiming, had begun working on a full-length animation, "The Monkey King," which was to become the masterpiece of Asian animation. A labor of love, it was finally completed after ten years, in 1965. But that was at the dawn of the Cultural Revolution. Wang Laiming and the film's director, Te Wei, were arrested by the Red Guards, along with many other designers, and i [...]
Online
2007
11.

The Pig Commandments

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This fascinating film illustrates how religious differences, even on the basic level of dietary prohibitions, can affect the way neighbors interact. It focuses on Malaysia, home to 12 million Muslims and 6 million Chinese. Islam bans the eating of pork, considering it unclean, while the Chinese have treasured pork for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese character for "home" was a pig. For the Chinese the pig is a symbol of prosperity and all celebrations involve a pig roast. "Pig Commandments" outlines the ways in which the Muslim prohibition to eat pork affects the relationship between the Chinese and Muslims in this part of the world. There is legislation to keep pig farms away from the Muslim population. Many Chinese in Malaysia have converted to Islam. For them, the Koran has [...]
Online
2007
12.

The Sakuddei of Indonesia

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The Sakuddei of Indonesia: Off the coast of Sumatra live the Sakuddei, completely cut off from the outside world. Here is an egalitarian society, in near perfect harmony with the environment. There are no leaders, men and women are equal, peace is cherished. We see how this Utopian way of life is threatened by encroaching civilization. Films in this series: Asante Market Women, Kataragama, Witchcraft Among the Azande, The Dervishes of Kurdistan, The Sakuddei of Indonesia.
Online
1992
13.

The Stem Cell Divide

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The use of embryonic stem cells for medical research is an issue that has unleashed passionate political controversy nationwide. Many conservative religious groups oppose it on the grounds that using embryonic stem cells involves destroying a life at its earliest stage. Researchers and doctors working with embryonic stem cells, specifically with the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) procedure, insist that those early stem cells are not human life. The researchers contend that they would never use the DNA in the stem cells to create human life -- only to conduct biomedical research that they hope will lead to cures for such maladies as cancer, Parkinson s disease, Alzheimer s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and spinal cord injuries. Embryonic stem cells offer much hope for medical ad [...]
Online
2010
14.

Walking the Line

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Walking the Line offers a harrowing view of the chaos, absurdity and senseless deaths of Mexican illegals along the U.S. - Mexico border because some American citizens are taking the law into their own hands. Southern Arizona, a region celebrated for its history of lawlessness, has become the most highly trafficked area for immigrants in the world -- and one of the most dangerous. A shift in the border policy forces migrants to cross the unforgiving desert where thousands die. Those who make it across face volatile, often armed, civilian militias. Standing in opposition to the vigilantes are humanitarians, organized to prevent migrant deaths. Confronting the growing crisis, they too find themselves on the wrong side of the law. A Tucson pastor is indicted on federal felony charges fo [...]
Online
2006
15.

We're Here Now: Prostitution

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This film focuses on the myths and realities of prostitution as related by seven women formerly in "the life." These women are struggling to return to the mainstream of society and they meet in a group counseling session that offers mutual support and guidance. Aided by two skilled social workers, they talk candidly about personal histories, deadened emotions, distrust of human interaction and lack of self-esteem. The stories they tell - beatings, arrests, exploitation by pimps, and dependency on drugs and alcohol - stand out in sharp relief to society s image of the "happy hooker."The film does not record the street life. Instead, it shows women coming to grips with the great problems of their lives. It demonstrates the dynamics of group therapy. For women s groups, sociology, crimi [...]
Online
1983
16.

Women in China

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Women in China is a timely two-part documentary on the conditions of women in today's economically -oriented Chinese society. By visiting four diverse parts of China, it provides a representative view of the opportunities and living conditions of Chinese women today. The first part focuses on Bejing where we meet a successful women s rock group. Although the group is not officially accepted, these emancipated women are popular among the young both there and abroad. Kang Rui, once a member of Mao s People s Army talks about life as a young female soldier during the Civil War. One of the city s most successful women is Wan Wen Ying, head of a major department store. We also observe activities at a women's crisis center, which is a new phenomenon in today's more open China. The second p [...]
Online
1997
17.

Primetime War

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This film focuses on two cameramen who bring the horror of the Israeli/Arab conflict nightly into homes around the world. Although one is Israeli, working for the Associated Press and the other is Palestinian, working for BBC, they are good friends and colleagues. What is remarkable about this film is that it shows how the media affects the very events it covers. The battles heat up and the rhetoric becomes more vociferous when the video camera rolls. These two friends from opposite sides conduct a continual debate about their job and what they witness. They question the validity of their work and express their moral dilemma concerning the role and responsibility of the media in reporting the events they are paid to cover. For once the cameras are turned onto the news gatherers, whos [...]
Online
2000
18.

Prison for Kids

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In a Phoenix, Arizona penitentiary, Sheriff Joe Arpalo has initiated an extremely controversial deterrent for juvenile delinquency, called "Smart Tents." It involves incarcerating children who have broken the law in a real prison for two days, to show them what they could become as adults if they don t clean up their act. The sheriff's goal is " ... to show the kids how you live if you commit any crime. Not just drugs, any crime. They are going to live in a tough, tough jail system. They don t like it. I hope they will never forget the nights they spent in the tents, eating bologna, wearing the striped uniform, being awake at night with the dogs. They learn the lesson like that. The parents and teachers go through their experience with them, so they're being educated too." Neither th [...]
Online
2002
19.

Endnotes

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If all of us would know that our last days would be spent surrounded by caring people in a humane environment, such as the one we see here at the Royal Victoria Hospital, then dying would be less terrifying. The hospice here has been under the leadership of Balfour Mount, M.D., internationally respected pioneer in the field of palliative care. The entire staff, from housekeepers to volunteers, to nurses, doctors and therapists are engaged in the complex task of meeting the emotional as well as the physical needs of the patients. We get to know the caregivers, and how they are affected by their work with the dying. The staff creates a sense of normalcy and even vibrancy which emanates from the ward as pleasures from the outside world are brought in. Musicians, pets, and celebrations e [...]
Online
2000
20.

Facing Death

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For more than twenty years, Lars Westman has been filming his mother. The result is a unique record of life s inevitable passage, as well as a tender portrait of an aging mother who lived to a ripe old age in her own home, until complications from a hip injury necessitated her move to a nursing home. When she succumbed to her final illness, her son was at her bedside to record her last breath. Their strong affection helps the film transcend grim reality.
Online
1994