This international independent series samples the best of international documentary.
Acrobat (#509) Duration: 53:00 STEREO
Fabrice Champion, a renowned trapeze artist, hit another acrobat in mid-air during a show and was paralyzed. Following years of rehabilitation therapy, he returned to the circus as director and teacher.
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Here Comes Uncle Joe (#714) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
He is not their uncle, and his name is not Joe. But to the old ladies of An-dong, a rural community in southeastern Korea, Uncle Joe is almost the only contact they have with the modern world. As the young leave these rural areas to acquire higher education and to find high salary jobs in the cities, there are no services or people to support old people. In this situation, Uncle Joe becomes the only man for the old.
However, his road taken isn't always happy. Because of their advanced years, Joe often encounters his old customer-friends' misery and death. Moreover, as he reflects on his life, he faces his inner conflict and shame. In this film, we see how Uncle Joe serves these communities with humor and attention, how love and friendship are infused in life, and how he overcomes his conflicts with his friends.
Recycle (#715) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Zarqa, Jordan's second largest city, is a rundown, industrial metropolis and birthplace of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the notorious mastermind of al Qaeda's terror operations in Iraq who was killed by American forces in 2005.
This documentary reveals the distinct yet intertwined stories of 3 native sons of Zarqa: al-Zarqawi; Abu Ammar, an ex-Mujahadin fighter who now supports his family of 11 by collecting cardboard to recycle; and filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad who, from behind the camera's lens, coolly unravels the knotted threads of poverty, humiliation, and strict religious doctrine that have made the city a continuing source for jihadist recruits.
The central story is Ammar's; his attempts to build a normal life in the impoverished town are thwarted at every turn. He cannot afford his rent; a scheme to sell used vehicles in Iraq fails when he is almost killed by extremists and American soldiers, and the book he is writing - a moderate interpretation of jihad - goes unfinished.
Inscrutable, undaunted, and ever-devout, Ammar labors alone at night in an abandoned storefront transcribing his personal interpretations of scripture from slips of paper stuffed in garbage bags onto an old desktop computer. But, when the war on terror strikes close to home, he is swept up and forced to deal with the reality that his life is falling apart. His surprising decision to try something completely different suggests that, when push comes to shove, desperate acts can emerge from the most ordinary of circumstances.
Casablanca Calling (#716) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
In Morocco, women are being employed as religious leaders - called Morchidat - for the first time, offering advice and guidance in mosques, schools, prisons, and orphanages around the country. The Islam they teach is based on tolerance, compassion and equality.
This documentary follows 3 exceptional women: Karima is witty, mischievous, and outgoing; Bouchra is powerhouse of energy working in the North; Hannane is a poetic soul - warm, wise, and compassionate, who wants to change people's perceptions of the true teachings of Islam - including non-Muslims' conception of religious guides as "scary men with beards."
In the mosques, the Morchidat offer advice on everything from marital relationships, to bringing up children, work, money, and neighborhood disputes. They mentor teenagers in schools and fight against early marriage. They go into orphanages to offer comfort and guidance to children whose parents can't afford to keep them. And they visit prisons to counsel the most vulnerable prisoners, and mediate between the inmates and their estranged families.
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Oil & Water (#717) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Shot over 6 years, this documentary is the true story of 2 boys coming of age in the middle of one of the world's worst toxic disasters. Hugo fights for the survival of his Amazonian tribe, while David attempts to revolutionize the oil industry.
When Hugo Lucitante was 10 years old, the Cofan tribe of Ecuador made a desperate decision. Fearing extinction, they sent Hugo to be educated in the US, in hopes that he would return to lead them into a better future. A decade later, Hugo returns to the Ecuadorian Amazon to meet his destiny, armed only with a high school diploma.
David Poritz was just a 6th grader when he learned of the oil disaster in Hugo's homeland. With the blessing of his mother, David started a humanitarian aid project that led him away from his home in Amherst, Massachusetts to spend much of his youth in the Amazon.
The two teenagers meet by chance during a shared canoe ride, and then again to tour Hugo's ancestral lands where 18 billion gallons of oil waste was dumped, leading to unexplainable rashes, childhood deformities, and ballooning cancer rates.
While still a college student, David launches the world's first international company to certify oil as "fair-trade," meaning that it is drilled in a safer way. David's approach could be a game changer for the oil industry. Meanwhile, Hugo struggles with culture shock, the demands of learning to be a Cofan tribal leader, and also becoming a husband. Financial pressures cause him to shoulder two minimum wage jobs, even as oil prospectors push deeper into the rainforest.
Will Hugo become the leader his tribe so desperately needs? Will David clean up one of the world's dirtiest industries? This film follows the twists and turning points in their lives to bring a powerful conclusion to the story.
Last Train Home (#718) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos, all at once, as a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are in the rural villages where they left behind family to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance.
This visually striking debut film from Chinese Canadian director Lixin Fan draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. 16 years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitterly ironic twist, the Zhangs's hopes for the future are undone by their very absence.
Qin, the child they left behind, has grown into adolescence crippled by a sense of abandonment. In an act of teenage rebellion, she drops out of school. She too will become a migrant worker. The decision is a heartbreaking blow for her parents.
In classic cinema verite style, this film follows the Zhangs's attempts to change their daughter's course and repair their ruptured family. Intimate and candid, it paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China. We identify with the Zhangs as they navigate through the stark and difficult choices of a society caught between old ways and new realities. Can they get ahead and still undo some of the damage that has been done to their family?
Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls (#701) Duration: 53:24 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This film mirrors the remarkable change that has taken place in Myanmar (Burma) since shooting began over two years ago. Through its exploration of 5 young women breaking free of tradition in their search for an original voice, it provides a powerful metaphor for a country suddenly thrust onto the world stage.
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Street Ballad: A Jakarta Story (#521) Duration: 53:34 STEREO
Titi Juwariyah, 27, is a street singer in Jakarta, Indonesia. She leads a challenging, conflicted life - from her migration to Jakarta as a lost teen from the Java countryside to her heartfelt quest for identity and acceptance in her adopted city.
Armed with just a battered guitar, a soulful voice, and a desire for a better life, Titi composes catchy folk tunes to entertain passengers on Jakarta's teeming buses. She dreams of making a career in music but is overwhelmed by the pressures of supporting her troubled family.
When personal crisis strikes, Titi finds herself alone and on the edge of despair. An emotional journey to see her ailing parents in their remote countryside village provides Titi with important perspective and new determination to turn her life around.
Back on the streets of Jakarta, Titi embarks on a brave new quest for independence and legitimacy. But in the process of chasing that dream, she stands to lose the very thing that is closest to her heart.
In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee (#702) Duration: 52:52 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her "double," the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.
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Family Portrait In Black and White (#520) Duration: 53:38 STEREO
lga Nenya, from a small Ukrainian town, is raising 16 black orphans in a country of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. The reality of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe - a rare and truly visible minority - is not for the faint of heart. These children always have to be on guard against the world that surrounds them.
I Will Be Murdered (#703) Duration: 53:53 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This documentary portrays the astonishing, real-life story of a lawyer who launched a personal crusade in search of justice, and brought his country to the brink of chaos.
In May 2009, Rodrigo Rosenberg, a wealthy, charismatic lawyer went cycling near his home in Guatemala City and was murdered. Nothing unusual, as tragically Guatemala has a murder rate four times higher than Mexico's. What was extraordinary is that Rodrigo Rosenberg knew, for certain, he was about to be killed.
Two of Rosenberg's clients had been murdered a few weeks before. He was driven to investigate a case which, he told his friends, he feared would lead to his death. A video he recorded days before he died accused the president of his murder. Uploaded to Youtube, it nearly brought down the government. A special prosecutor began an investigation, a journey into Rosenberg's soul and Guatemala's hell, that after multiple twists and turns, reached a stunning revelation.
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I Was Worth 50 Sheep (#514) Duration: 52:57 STEREO
Following a long practiced tradition in Afghanistan, 10-year-old Sabere was sold to a man in his fifties. For the next six years she was both slave and wife, miscarrying four times. Now at sixteen, she is fighting for her freedom.
The Fighting Spirit (#704) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
There aren't a lot of ways to leave Bukom. A poor village in Ghana, its main industry is fishing, with a paltry annual salary of $300. So its young people are fighting their way out -- literally. Thanks to tenacious coaches who turn rough street fighters into money-churning professional boxers, the village has produced several champions, and is looking for its next big winner. Twenty-two year-old George is excited to box overseas for the first time, but has girlfriend troubles back home. Known as the first lady of boxing, Yarkor is using the memory of her cheating ex-boyfriend to fuel her fire, but is struggling to win her first big fight. Having already achieved international success, Joshua is training for the world featherweight title, with the help of dodgy manager Vinnie Scolpino. A spirited look at Ghana through the eyes of those fighting for their dreams.
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Milking The Rhino (#515) Duration: 55:10 STEREO
Everyone has seen a nature documentary with a ferocious kill on the Serengeti Plain. Well, here's a different story about villagers navigating the dangers and costs of living with wildlife. After a century of "white man's conservation," the Maasai of Kenya and Namibia's Himba people are vying to share a piece of the eco-tourism pie. But can they fulfill the expectations of Westerners without abandoning their native culture?