The Politics of Climate Change

The World Health Organisation puts the number of deaths from climate change at 250,000 by 2050.

We travel the world to see how the devastation wrought by droughts, wildfires, floods and catastrophic rains – all the direct results of climate change – are a political problem, and require political solutions. From the outback of Australia, to the Pakistani Himalayas and Brazilian Amazon, this series takes us to the front line of the approaching disaster.

Along the way, we meet people and activists trying to find ways to tackle the biggest issue of the 21st century.

A combination of bad policies and political apathy is speeding up climate change. Have we reached the tipping point? Can it be reversed?

 

Episode 1 – Australia´s Coal Conundrum

Against the backdrop of dwindling water resources, ravaging bushfires and high unemployment, a controversial new mine set to be built in Central Queensland is being met with controversy and passionate resistance. Further mining activities promise to exacerbate the region’s already dwindling water resources while raising Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. The perceived silver lining in the building of the controversial Carmichael Mine is the promise of job creation. But, at what cost?

 

Episode 2 – Brazil´s Amazonian Battle

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon increased 30% since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came to power. More than 120,000 square kilometers of the Amazon forest have been destroyed: an area a fifth the size of Wales in the last 10 years. It’s displaced around 400 indigenous groups but has also decimated a vast store of carbon that is vital for tackling climate change. The jungles produce 20% of the world’s oxygen. We go on an investigative journey to reveal the gold rush pushing communities over the edge. Along the way, we meet the Mundurukku aboriginal tribes and activists fighting to stop the destruction of Amazon jungles. We also meet activists seeking solutions for a sustainable lifestyle.

 

Episode 3 – Pakistan´s Himalayan Meltdown

The word Himalaya means House of Snow, and is the second largest icecap outside the polar regions. But it is melting at the fastest rate in human history. One-third of the Himalayan glaciers are projected to disappear by the end of this century due to climate change, threatening the supply of water to nearly 2 billion people across South Asia. We discover how water became a major flash point between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, due to the Siachen glacier conflict, and go undercover to observe the proliferation of water thieves in Karachi. We also examine the impact of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s billion tree tsunami, Pakistan’s bold bid to mitigate worsening climate change.

Mind Forward

The symbiosis of the brain / mind and artificial intelligence will give rise to a new humanity, a kind of ´super-humanity´.

Brain-machine communication will allow that the cognitive capabilities of human beings will be enhanced, giving rise to the first augmented humans. Connected brains will lead to powerful synthetic telepathy technologies making it possible to not only to read other person’s thoughts, but also manipulate them. But where what are the potential benefits and pitfalls of these new technologies?

Neuro – technologies are about to cause a radical social shift that will change our understanding of the inner self and our very conception of reality. Neuro – rights will be foremost, necessitating regulations that guarantee the privacy of our conscious or even subconscious thoughts.

Mind Forward explores the frontiers of this brave new world.

Medicating Normal

Millions of people worldwide are physically dependent on commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs. While these drugs can provide effective short-term relief, pharmaceutical companies have hidden -from both doctors and patients- their dangerous side effects, addictive nature and long-term harm.

Combining cinema verité and investigative journalism, Medicating Normal follows the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by the very medications they believed would help them. Expert testimony and undercover footage reveal a systemically corrupt industry.

Medicating Normal is the untold story of the disastrous consequences that can occur when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.

Ten Dollar Death Trip: Inside The Fentanyl Crisis

With the world fighting a deadly pandemic, another heartbreaking public health crisis is raging in North America.  A new synthetic drug is killing more than gun crime, homicide and car accidents combined.

100 times stronger than heroin, the deadly opioid fentanyl is cheap, potent and small enough to send in the post. These market forces have seen it replacing the heroin supply, spreading unprecedented death, destruction and misery. And, like all epidemics, it is spreading fast.

The death toll has disproportionately affected the homeless and marginalised. And now, due to its strength and low cost, the drug is also starting to appear in party drugs, such as cocaine and cannabis – with fatal results.

We travel to Vancouver, the epicentre of the fentanyl epidemic to meet with health care workers, activists, fentanyl dealers and people who use it.

We learn of radical initiatives to fight back against a toxic drug supply and ask what the world should expect if the fentanyl epidemic spreads outside of North America.

The Dark Web (series)

There’s a dark side to the internet, and you probably don’t even know it exists. Look behind the positive veneer of social media, communication apps and platforms that have made our lives easier and more connected, and you’ll find criminals using the same apps and platforms to run illicit and dangerous activities.

Sextortion syndicates target victims globally through social media. Illegal wildlife trades thrive on social consumer marketplaces. Digital black markets operate anonymously using software designed for press privacy and freedom to sell drugs. Secret child pornography rings run rampant in secret, closed groups and private chats.

This explosive new series lifts the lid on how criminal organisations are thriving in this new digital frontier.


Episode One – The Queen of Sextortion

Sextortion was invented by one woman in the Philippines, Maria Caparas. She turned the idea of making friends online and recording explicit video chats into a profitable blackmail and extortion scam that could not exist without social media. She now runs a mini empire seemingly beyond the reach of authorities, that has led to many suicides.

Episode Two – Wildlife Clickbait

They may look like ordinary posts of exotic pets for sale on social media. But they are feeding a growing trade in illegal and endangered animals in Malaysia and beyond. This criminal industry is worth billions and is jeopardising attempts to protect endangered species.

Episode Three – Black Market Boom

Drugs, guns, counterfeit documents and much more are sold on dark web marketplaces that run on anonymous browsers and using cryptocurrency. AlphaBay was the biggest marketplace, transacting over US$800,000 in a day enabling its founder to live a luxury lifestyle in anonymity, until international law enforcement caught up with him.

Episode Four – The Candyman

It was one of 640 million closed groups on Facebook. Hiding behind the anonymity, the creator of child pornography group Loli Candy and its 7,000 members hid their activities on Facebook and Whatsapp – the dissemination of horrifying images of abuse. While they were eventually bought to justice many more thrive.

The Rise of Jordan Peterson

With incredible exclusive access, The Rise of Jordan Peterson after he took a public stance against trans human rights legislation in Canada in late 2016 rising to meteoric global fame for denouncing political correctness.

Jordan Peterson gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the firestorm sparked by provocative professor and best selling author Filmmaker Patricia Marcoccia follows psychology professor Jordan Peterson as he navigates his way through the biggest controversy of his career. With candid interviews and unparalleled access to Peterson, his family, and to transgender and social justice activists who opposed his views, the documentary provides a fascinating look at this internationally scrutinised dispute.

Sparking both outrage and support, Peterson’s criticisms of Canada’s policies to enforce legal rights for non-binary gender identification were met with protests and calls for his dismissal from his tenured university position, as well as an outpouring of social and financial support for his public commentary on the underlying dangers of cultures becoming too politically correct.

Peterson quickly became a rorschach test for society: he was denounced as transphobic and bigoted by some, and praised as a hero for civil liberties by others. His public lectures, which were critical of social trends to tow the politically correct line, quickly transformed him into a famous public intellectual, internationally best-selling author and an academic rock star who tours sold-out venues around the world.

This film takes an unprecedented look at Jordan Peterson and explores the tension between free speech and hate speech, exploring points-of-view of those on both sides of this heightened debate.

To rent or buy, visit Vimeo,  iTunesAmazon or Google Play.

Magic Medicine

Can magic mushrooms cure depression?

Over two years we follow the first ever medical trial of psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms) being used to treat a group of volunteers suffering from clinical depression.

This remarkable film follows three volunteers and their families, and the ambitious staff running the trial, who are hoping this controversial treatment will have the power to transform millions of lives.

With deeply moving footage of the ‘trips’ the patients go on, as well as interviews providing scientific and political context, this intimate film is an absorbing portrait of the human cost of depression, and the inspirational people contributing to groundbreaking psychedelic research.

 

 

“Monty Wates’s documentary shows the work of Dr Robin Carhart-Harris at Imperial College London: after years of bureaucratic wrangling, he got permission to conduct research into the possibility that psilosybin – the psychoactive ingredient of magic mushrooms – could be used to treat depression. Is society’s taboo disapproval needlessly holding back our understanding of this issue?

We see three long-time sufferers of depression, sensitively interviewed about their lives… They are given a low, introductory dose of shroom-essence at the first session, and at the second the amount is stepped up. The results are startling”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

 

Tupamaro: Urban Guerrillas

The award-winning film chronicles the life of Alberto “Chino” Carias, the infamous leader of a vigilante “colectivo” from the slums of Caracas, Venezuela.

Once accused of robbing banks and killing cops, Chino sheds his outlaw reputation and takes a post in Hugo Chavez’s government. But after Chavez dies, the country’s struggling economy collapses.

In the absence of true law and order, Chino clings to his contradictory roles as saint and executioner.

Produced by Peter Marshall Smith and Matt Weinglass

Crossing the Andes (series)

Half of Latin American countries number among the top economies in the world to do business in, and for many the continent is an investor’s paradise. Why should we keep an eye on Latin America, and which changes are taking place there right now?

As the backbone of South America – some 7000 kilometres long and passing through seven countries – the Andes mountain range is a good place to ask that question.

You’ll find Chilean capitalism in the smog of Santiago, and will travel 30 years back in time through the clouds of remote Bolivian mountain villages. Latino’s are known as a politically engaged people. Always fighting, but with a smile. Strong, but not tough as nails. The history of this continent is one of ups and downs. Sometimes there’s a glimmer of hope, then everything seems to fall apart again. Is the continent crawling, walking or about to fall down again?

Stef Biemans’ journey starts in Tierra del Fuego and ends in Colombia. Along the way, he searches out small stories about big issues, which illuminate contemporary South America.

 

Episode 1.  The Man-eating Mountain

Stef Biemans travels the ridge of the Andes and wonders how South Americans are doing in Potosí, the highest city in the world, and once one of its richest, but also one where life can be short.

In the mining town of Potosí, capitalism was born, as it were. Here, the first coin was struck using silver from the mine of the ‘rich mountain’, which is still in use. So much silver has been extracted from this imposing mountain, you could use it to build a bridge to Spain. But you could also build a bridge out of the bones of dead miners and slaves. On average, miners only make it to the age of 45.

 

Episode 2. The Skyscraper of Santiago

In the Chilean capital of Santiago, Stef visits South America’s highest skyscraper. It was once built as a symbol of progress, but now the tower represents the dark side to that success story: record depression and suicide rates.

The highest tower in South America rises out of the Santiago smog, a symbol of the strong neoliberal economic system. But almost every month, someone jumps off of it. Nowhere else are depression rates as high as in this city of remarkable economic prosperity. In and around this skyscraper, Stef tries to find out where it all went wrong. What are the prerequisites for success and how do people survive in the smog of neoliberalism?

 

Episode 3. El Paraíso Technológico

Stef travels to Argentina’s southernmost tip Ushuaia, and discovers an impressive electronics industry among the penguins. Since it’s become known that there are jobs to be had in Tierra del Fuego, the capital of Ushuaia draws countless South American fortune seekers. What is this growth doing to the mountains surrounding the town?

Terra del Fuego is the new migrant’s paradise of South America. Since word’s gotten out that on the southern tip of the continent you can easily find work in an Argentinian electronics plant, the city has boomed. The Argentinian government has declared the area a tax free zone and companies have flooded in with smartphone and television factorys.

Growth is so rapid here, that it feels like a threat to many people; what is the impact on the nature of the surrounding mountains and its biodiversity? In Tierra del Fuego, Charles Darwin studied man and animal, and discovered the principles of his theory of evolution. Can modern-day inhabitants adapt to these changes?

 

Episode 4. Eternal life

In Ecuador, Stef Biemans visits the valley of eternal life – where the high life expectancy of its inhabitants has astonished observers – and investigates its finite nature. What do spry centenarians in Ecuador right below the equator do in order to stay healthy, what provisions are there for them should they fall ill, and how do South Americans deal with their elderly?

The Vilcabamba valley in Ecuador is known for its healthy old people. The fit old man who interrupts his work in the field to firmly shake Stef Biemans’ hand shows an official proof of identity with a 1913 birthdate. A little bit later, he lets his hips do the talking when he’s dancing.

Others in the valley also dance, but it doesn’t mean they’re all happy. An 89-year-old woman says she’d like for it to be over. ‘God is keeping me alive. I’m waiting for my time to come.’ A voluntary ending to this earthly life is so unthinkable, Biemans is afraid to even broach the subject.

 

Episode 5. My Mother-in-Law stayed at home

In this episode we look at the role of the mother-in-law, because Latino’s tend to talk about them rather a lot.

In Latin America, folk tales, songs, novels and soap operas are not complete without a distrustful mother-in-law. Why is that, he wonders? And has the role of the mother-in-law changed, now the economy is booming and whole families don’t have to live under one roof anymore? Or are mothers-in-law still as picky and meddlesome as Latino men would have us believe? Maybe they have good reason to be so, because men aren’t always gentle with their women.

 

Episode 6. The Mother of Colombia

In the final episode of the series, we journey down the Magdalena River, which originates in the Andes and ends in the Caribbean Sea.

This is the most hopeful period in Colombia’s history: the peace treaty has been signed and the country looks towards the future as new roads and bridges are being constructed. At the same time, the Magdalena River, also known as the mother of the country, still means a lot to inhabitants. What will progress destroy?

Broken Harmony: China’s Dissidents

Broken Harmony: China’s Dissidents tells the story of Hua Ze, an ordinary Chinese citizen for whom a discovery of corruption led her into a hidden world of dissidents, citizen journalism, police harassment and kidnappings.

Once a mild mannered TV director, Hua Ze discovered that an old friend reporting on alleged corruption after the Sichuan earthquake had disappeared, along with any mention of him online. Following a trail of leads over the great internet fire wall of China, she discovers not just the fate of her friend, but the truth behind Sichuan’s fatal building code violations, a jaw-dropping array of human rights abuses across China and comes to the realization that the entire internet in China is a state controlled fiction.

Hua’s awakening takes her into a new world of dissidents, journalists and human rights lawyers. As she begins her own reporting, pressure from the government is swift, and her world is turned upside down. She is forced out of her job and placed under surveillance. One by one, her new friends are arrested or detained. Phones are tapped and secretive threats and warnings are made. But Hua cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption and she pays the price.

When ordinary Chinese citizens go to extraordinary lengths to fight human rights abuses, the risks are enormous, even life-threatening. Broken Harmony reveals Hua’s courageous acts and willingness to lose everything to fight for justice and the rule of law.

The Guardians

Over the next few decades, the Baby Boomer generation will reach senior citizen status and bequeath more than 30 trillion dollars. An unprecedented shift of wealth will pass from one generation to the next. With this shift comes the temptation and opportunity for appalling greed and cold-hearted abuse by those very people charged with protecting society’s most vulnerable citizens.

Elderly people are disappearing in Las Vegas. Deemed incompetent, they are removed from their homes, drugged, and dumped in nursing homes against their will. Their autonomy is stolen, dignity destroyed, and life savings gradually pillaged — all without their consent. This multi-million-dollar scam is perpetrated by “The Guardians” – the very people sworn to protect the vulnerable among us. Abetted by a network of crooked judges, lawyers, and healthcare practitioners, these guardians execute an unscrupulous scheme, perfected over 30 years, that profits from the largest transfer of wealth in history.

Nothing and no one has stood in their way. Until now.

Fatal Flaws: Legalising Assisted Death

Should we be giving doctors the right to end the lives of others by euthanasia or assisted suicide?

Fatal Flaws: Legalising Assisted Death is a thought-provoking journey through Europe and North America to find answers to this question.

Some 20 years after these laws were introduced, even
some of the most loyal supporters of assisted dying
are questioning where these laws are taking us.

The grandfather of euthanasia in the Netherlands, Dr. Boudewijn Chabot speaks of a ‘worrisome culture shift’ and that euthanasia is ‘getting out of hand’ – especially as it relates to patients with psychiatric issues.

The cost of ongoing treatment is putting pressure on an already fraught decision making process, and the many are questioning the motives of those tasked with making the decisions.

Meanwhile, the suicidal can simply ‘shop around’ until they find the decision they are looking for, or more worryingly – others can do the same for those they are tasked with caring for.

With powerful testimonies and expert opinion from both sides of the issue, Fatal Flaws: Legalising Assisted Death uncovers how these highly disputed laws affect society over time.