Searching for Nika

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine and bombed Kyiv, film director Stas Kapralov’s family dog, Nika, ran away… Determined to find her, Stas sets out into the devastation and documents his journey as he joins volunteers helping to rescue animals. Becoming a part of their cause, Stas films the trials and successes of the volunteers as he continues his search for Nika, which takes him to ‘Sirus’ Animal Shelter, the largest in Europe, housing 3,500 animals, and still receiving emaciated and hungry dogs daily. There he meets Alexandra, the shelter director, who regularly risks her life to find food for the animals and is determined never to abandon them. Alexandra’s iron inspires Stas, and even though he is unable to locate Nika, he does not give up hope and decides to take a more active role in helping the volunteers and animals in need.

Joining forces with another volunteer, Olena, Stas documents and aids in rescuing a blind and abandoned lion, Ruru, as she’s brought across the Ukrainian border to Poland. Later, he meets Alex, a volunteer who helped Kyiv inhabitants escape the city at the start of the war and now risks his life rescuing cats left behind by their owners… Among the rubble of a bombed and burned stables, Stas hears Yura’s story, whose horses were like family members, many dying in the bombings, as he now searches for a safe home for them… In another instance, Stas journeys to Harkov, experiencing mortar shelling first-hand, as he becomes part of urgent evacuations of animals at a zoo actively being bombed, where two volunteers had been killed in previous days…

What begins as a journey motivated by the disappearance of his dog, Nika, becomes a mission to document and aid in a humanitarian movement to help as many animals as possible in Ukraine. Documenting and participating in this journey, Stas discovers stories of altruism and humanity amidst the harshest landscape of war…  and by the end of his journey, Stas finally finds out what happened to his dog Nika.

Television Event

At the height of the cold war, broadcaster ABC set about making a made-for-TV movie about the effects of a nuclear bomb on the ordinary American people, little knowing the obstacles and opposition they would face during its production, and the eduring impact it would have once broadcast – both in the US and in Russia.

With irreverent humor and sobering apocalyptic vision, Television Event reveals how a commercial broadcaster seized a moment of unprecedented television viewership, made an emotional connection with an audience of over 100 million and forced an urgent conversation with the US President on how to collectively confront and resolve the most pressing issue of the time – nuclear proliferation.

They narrowly succeeded in producing the most watched, most controversial made-for-TV movie ever, THE DAY AFTER (1983), that may also have played a part in averting nuclear war.

Blue ID

On October 4, 2012, a beaming Rüzgar Erkoçlar received his first testosterone injection, a joyous occasion in his gender affirmation.

Formerly a well-known actor throughout Turkey, Rüzgar hoped he could lead a private life as a transman. With a new job at a bakery and a supportive family and friends, things looked positive at first – until he was outed on Twitter and suddenly Rüzgar’s journey is thrust onto the front pages. A media frenzy ensues, and the question of trans-rights grips Turkey, with Rüzgar the reluctant figurehead.

It is against this backdrop that we join Rüzgar, and witness the many obstacles he is to overcome in order to live an authentic life and get his Blue ID.

Inshallah: Hope in Exile

The migrant camp of Las Raíces, Tenerife, houses 1,600 people. Most of them have been detained for months waiting for an asylum appointment that never seems to come. Some of migrants, driven by uncertainty about their future and the lack of dignified conditions, are building an alternative camp as a protest, and begin to organise. Meanwhile, others deal with family pressure and the frustration of waiting through their faith. We witness the every day lives of those who have begun their journey to a better life only to find themselves trapped between two worlds in a bureaucratic nightmare.

Inshallah: Hope in Exile is the plea of those who have been forced to leave their homes and, after risking their lives at sea, have been detained and held by the same nations that plundered their countries’ wealth. But above all, inshallah is the most used expression by the migrants in this camp. Hopefully.

The Fall and Rise of New York

The transformation and revival of New York City from 1990 to 2013 is one of the most remarkable stories in urban history.

Many are oblivious to New York’s true history – a failing city that by 1990 had over 2,200 murders, 93,000 violent robberies and 147,000 car thefts annually with a declining middle class, depressed property values and embarrassingly low educational attainment.

But then something happened.  It was not the result of broader social or economic forces. Instead, it was an intellectual paradigm shift and revolution that only came about because of political leadership, a new set of ideas about governing and established tradition being questioned and changed at the grassroot level.

Today, the world sits at a unique moment in urban city history. Cities are falling apart. Rampant homelessness, increasing crime, mounting drug use, unaffordable housing – once a beacon of innovation and success, today many cities are failing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. New York City faced worst challenges in its past and managed to overcome them.

More than ever, the world needs to know the story of New York’s revival and to understand how this happened. As the 400th anniversary of New York approaches in 2024, we find out what was behind the Fall and Rise of New York.

Between the Americas (series)

Between the Americas is a search for the iconic sounds of Central America, and what they signify. For a long time, this region seemed to be on the ascendance, but opposing forces have hindered any positive developments. There have emerged two Americas, and in between these two visions, journalist Stef Biemans listens to what Central America has to tell. Biemans has lived and worked in the region for more than 15 years and illuminates the delicate situation of lots of Central Americans in a collidescope of sounds and stories.

 

Episode One –  Listening to San Blas

The Islands of San Blas are inhabited by the Kuna people, an Indigenous people who live on the rhythm of nature. As their islands are at the forefront of climate change, with the Caribbean Sea rising continuously, they face a huge dilemma: relocate to the mainland or to wait until the water comes? Stef Biemans preserves the last sounds of this extraordinary culture: a sewing machine, the threatening waves, a grated coconut and the singing palm tree.

Episode Two –  Panama’s Echo

Panama seems to be doing well. The economy flourishes and this results in a vertical building drive and an impressive skyline. Biemans visits the colourful neighbourhood at the foot of these buildings and finds out what has changed for the ordinary people of Panama.

Episode Three –  The Silence of Guatemala

If we listen carefully to the stories of the Maya people, we will hear a silence that has lasted for 40 years. This silence is about the genocide that took place under the rule of General Efraín Ríos Montt. It is called The Silence of Guatemala because the mass slaughter off the indigenous people has never been recognized. Has the moment arrived to break the silence?

Episode Four –  Costa Rica’s Happiness

Most people in Costa Rica – the happiest country of Central America – say their lives could not be any better. On a scale of 0 to10, the population on average award their happines a 9. But people in neighboring country Nicaragua are feeling far from okay. Recently a stream of refugees has fled to Costa Rica in their search for freedom and safety. Are they welcome and who is entitled to happiness?

 

When a City Rises

When a city rises up against a superpower, everyone must decide how far they will go for freedom.

Hong Kong 2019 – The world has seen the iconic images of protestors covered in black, tossing back tear gas, waving black flags and protesting against the authoritarian superpower that is China in order to fight for a democratic future. It is easy to be caught up in the action, in the glorification of bravery and sacrifice. But away from the limelight, who are these hidden people concealed underneath their masks? What are the protestors really fighting for? What is at stake for them?

Narrated by Eve, a student, When a City Rises follows a teenage couple in love, a student leader, and a father, as they navigate the protest movement, each taking different kinds of action to strike back against the superpower overshadowing their lives. Using direct action, guerrilla tactics, technology, social media, memes and graffiti, they try to challenge the status quo. Each one plays a different role in this huge social movement. Eve, offers background legal support from her ‘control’ room. She is entirely behind the more radical action until her campus is besieged by police and in response protesters turn her university into a brick and firebomb factory. Tan, a father, first took to the streets when the government proposed the extradition bill. He is quickly radicalised and grows impatient with the political impasse, contemplating more dangerous action, even though he has the most to lose. 18-year-old MJ dreams of being a footballer and likes shopping with his girlfriend. Born in a different time, he would be splitting his hours between school and the pitch. Instead, every weekend he is at a protest, putting his relationship in peril.

When a City Rises captures three characters and a year of their personal struggles throughout the movement. Each must confront their own fears and find out exactly how much they are willing to risk for change. Relationships break and form amidst tear gas and rubber bullets, and across the border, China’s People Liberation Army awaits.  With a global pandemic driving protests inside and the new even more repressive National Security Law introduced, the stakes have never been higher.

Artificial Immortality

If you were able to create an immortal version of yourself, would you? Until this decade, that question was the stuff of science fiction, but now experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics suggest it will indeed be possible.

This cinematic documentary explores the latest technological advancements in AI, robotics and biotech, and poses the question: what is the essence of the human mind, and can this be replicated? Or even more unsettling, could we one day meet cloned versions of ourselves – clones which are better, smarter, and immortal? 

This film explores these questions with visionaries including: Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence, Hiroshi Ishiguro, developer of his own uncannily realistic clone Geminoid; Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human; Ben Goertzel, founder of Singularity.net who coined the term Artificial General Intelligence; and Deepak Chopra, who is creating his own A.I. mind twin. These visionaries see humanity advancing toward a new age of post-biological life, a world of intelligence without bodies, immortal identity without the limitations of disease, death, and unfulfilled desire. As scientists on the forefront of technology show that a world where humans and machines merge isn’t so far away, we have to ask ourselves will AI be the best, or the last thing we ever do?

Opening film at Hot Docs 2021

¨A fascinating foray deep into the realms of artificial intelligence, machine learning and biotechnology.¨ National Post  Chris Knight

¨The movie at once understands both the beauty and enormity of the possibilities.¨  Global News  Chris Jancelewicz

The Face of Anonymous

In the late Spring 2020—in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and U.S. presidential nomination coverage—mainstream media outlets reported that the anarchic “hacktivist” network Anonymous was back after several years of relative quiet.  “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world,” a masked messenger told the Minneapolis police department in a clip that went viral, captivating millions of young viewers. “We are legion. Expect us.”

This pivotal moment is the perfect time to unveil The Face of Anonymous, a verité journey into the world of Commander X, one of the most iconic, divisive, and outspoken figures in the history of the international online movement. Now living in exile in Mexico, Commander X is ready to tell his own remarkable story and to reveal not just the How but the Why of Anon’s modus operandi.

Christopher Mark Doyon, aka Commander X, personifies the trajectory of American activism “from the streets, to the Internet, and then back to the streets,” says journalist and author David Kushner, one of several observers, compadres, and detractors who provide the context—and, sometimes, reality check—in which Commander X’s rough and righteous odyssey unfolds.

We are introduced to Commander X by Toronto novelist Ian Thornton who confesses that, at first, he couldn’t believe that the thin, craggy, talkative panhandler he’d befriended was a cyber warlord who’d been on the run from the FBI for six years. 

We soon learn Doyon is an old-school revolutionary. As a computer-smitten teeager, he fled a difficult childhood in rural Maine, moving Zelig-like through various activist hotspots and taking up hacking long before most of us had heard the term. He considers himself a freedom-fighter who’s helped shape the 21st century.

When PayPal, Mastercard, and VISA blocked people from using their services to support Wikileaks, Commander X led the charge to nuke their websites, costing millions and waking the FBI up to the power of Anonymous. When the Egyptian government cut off the Internet during the Arab Spring, Commander X was one of the lead hackers to turn it back on.

More recently, as Homeland investigates Russian election hacking, Commander X says he knows that the Russian hackers are the real deal—he’s seen them lurking in the digital world through which he continues to stride.

“I’ll see you all later tonight on Anonymous Bites Back,” says Doyon, closing his livestream from a town square in Mexico. “Look for that on Twitter. I’ll be on, expect me.”

Premiered at Hot Docs 2021

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.

Beyond Men and Masculinity

This is not a film about men versus women. Beyond Men and Masculinity explores how men see themselves, how they relate to the people they say they care about and how the personal impacts the political.

What happens when men are taught to disconnect from their feelings in the name of being strong and independent? What is the link between shame and male violence?
Why do we find it hard to value kindness and compassion in men? And what role do women play in defining what is expected from men and masculinity?

A discussion of these sometimes uncomfortable questions is now more crucial than ever. From the therapy room to the political battlefield, this provocative film offers a clear insight into why we must look beyond traditional definitions of men and masculinity.

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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.