Category Archives: Documentaries

Views: Camel Herders Of The Sahara Desert (Video)

It was once common practice to herd camels hundreds of kilometers through the desert. Now, with only a handful of herders left, the ancient art of desert navigation will soon be lost. From the south of Morocco, the great Sahara Desert extends more than a thousand kilometers into Mauritania. Hot and dry, the desert is hostile to life.

Yet for centuries, camel herders have successfully traveled back and forth across this landscape, between their herd’s winter and summer camps. Today, only some thousand families remain dedicated to this traditional way of life. They breed dromedaries: domesticated, one-humped camels. Among these guardians of the old ways are the shepherds Moulay and Hadrami, both of the Oulad Ben Sbaa tribe. Their families live in the city, having abandoned the nomadic life.

But Moulay and Hadrami are passionate shepherds, closely bonded to their 200 camels. In this rich documentary, the men take us along as they go about their work: arming themselves against sandstorms, preparing their herd for nightly migrations, and searching the desert’s endless expanse for lost newborn animals and their mothers. An invaluable glimpse into the hardscrabble existence of these shepherds, the film shows a way of a life that will soon cease to exist.

Cultural View: What Will An Independent Scotland Look Like? (Documentary)

What does it mean to be Scottish? Since Brexit, people here at the northernmost end of the island of Great Britain have been asking this question with renewed vigour. Now, with the Scottish Parliament election approaching, many Scots see their future outside of the United Kingdom. So how do ordinary Scottish citizens see their homeland?

On her journey through Scotland, journalist Diana Zimmermann quickly learns that it is impossible to travel through the country these days without talking about Brexit. Geography and history have brought the Scots to a breaking point. Just ask Sophie Gault, a deer-hunter whose breath-taking workplace is in the heart of the Highlands, at the foot of Ben Alder. “Being Scottish is something I’m really proud of,” says Gault, adding that taking this job was the best decision she ever made.

“Being with nature and with wildlife, it makes you appreciate Scotland even more. There’s always that sense of community. And I’m very proud of our own Scottish humour.” What does fisherman Victor Laurenson, who had hoped Brexit would bring him better fishing conditions, think of his country now?

Janey Godley, a comedian from Glasgow, brings yet another perspective: In the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, she says, the English told the Scots to vote against independence so that Scotland could stay in the EU. “It’s basically like your Mum and Dad saying – look – if you go to bed early, when you wake up, you will have a pony. And you go to bed, you sleep early, you wake up and there’s just a cushion in the shape of a cat instead, and it’s not even a good cat.”

Climate Views: Rising High Water Levels In Kenya’s Great Rift Valley (Video)

In Kenya’s Rift Valley, climate change has brought an unprecedented increase in annual rainfall over the past several years, drowning pastureland, farms, homes, schools, churches, clinics and businesses.

The Great Rift Valley is part of an intra-continental ridge system that runs through Kenya from north to south. It is part of the Gregory Rift, the eastern branch of the East African Rift, which starts in Tanzania to the south and continues northward into Ethiopia.[1] It was formed on the “Kenyan Dome” a geographical upwelling created by the interactions of three major tectonics: the Arabian, Nubian, and Somalian plates.[2] In the past, it was seen as part of a “Great Rift Valley” that ran from Madagascar to Syria. Most of the valley falls within the former Rift Valley Province.

Documentary: What Is The Future For Algeria (Video)

Since February 2019, millions of Algerians have demonstrated against the government. They first took to the streets to demand more democracy and protest the renewed candidacy of former authoritarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought the Algerian protest movement “Hirak” to a premature end in March 2020, and even though Bouteflika withdrew his candidacy, its demands are still far from being met. Opponents of the government still say their country is a long way from genuine democracy and is at the same time plagued by corruption, economic mismanagement and military interference in politics.

This documentary follows five young Algerians who are all taking part in the protests. They tell viewers why they are challenging Algeria’s powerful elites and describe what they want for their country. Their stories are about hope and resignation, as well as the open question of their futures in Algeria.

Culture Views: ‘The Gábor Of Transylvania’ (Video)

For 500 years, Transylvania’s Gábor people have held onto their values and rituals. This film explores the insular world of the Gábor Roma, and asks whether they can maintain their traditional lives in a globalized world. The Romanian village of Karácsonyfalva is the center of the Gábor Roma community. More than 1,000 Gábor live there.

The men wear large black hats, the women long skirts. The men travel all over Europe as traders, while the women raise the children. Most Gábor belong to the Adventist denomination. Many only learned to read in order to study the Bible. Abstaining from pork and above all from alcohol and tobacco makes them targets of curiosity. Considered aristocratic among the Roma people, the Gábor have their own laws in all areas of life. Problems are solved within the community; in cases of conflict, even the police turn to the community leaders.

Their biggest and most important celebration is the wedding, the foundation of their society. Gábor marry exclusively among themselves. For this reason, girls are removed from school at age 11 and married at 14. Boys move from organized education to the “school of life” at 14. This documentary follows the marriage of 14-year-old Mundra to 16-year-old Bobbi, while giving a portrait of their families and the wider community. For the first time, they share an insight into their exciting, colorful, contradictory and insular world, in which wealth and poverty collide. This is a tight-knit community, one caught between tradition and the pressures of modernity.

History: ‘Turkmenistan – Cultural Treasures’

To outsiders, Turkmenistan is one of the world’s least known countries. For the first time in ten years, a film crew has been free to visit spectacular excavation sites and follow international researchers into areas that have long been off-limits. Once considered the poorest part of the Soviet Union, oil and natural gas have brought new wealth to Turkmenistan today.

A little known fact in the West is that 4,000 years ago, the country was home to one of the ancient world’s centers of power. Although it flourished around the same time as the advanced civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Margiana empire was later largely forgotten. But recently, archaeologists have discovered palace buildings and magnificent burial treasures at the site of the capital, Gonur Depe, in the Karakum Desert. Incredible aerial photography shows the dimensions of the lost metropolis. An international team of researchers also unearthed monumental fortifications in neighboring Ulug Depe.

The ruined cities of Merv and Kunya-Urgench have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suddenly, historians and the media are paying much more attention to Central Asia. Why has Turkmenistan seen powerful empires rise and fall since the Bronze Age? DNA analysis shows a highly mobile population, whose contacts reached as far as India, the Urals and the Mediterranean Sea. The Silk Road between China and Europe was the world’s most important trade route for thousands of years, lending Turkmenistan great historical significance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the country has been slowly opening up to international researchers, and its astounding cultural heritage is coming to light.

Views: Lives Of The Super-Rich In Congo, Africa

Many millionaires live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s poorest countries. This film depicts some of those who have made fortunes amid the chaos, including musicians, mining bosses, entrepreneurs and preachers. The DRC is rich in raw materials, but only a few profit from its natural resources.

While 60% of Congo’s inhabitants live on less than $1.25 per day, businessmen, artists, former rebel leaders and evangelists are reaping the rewards of economic growth. In the capital, Kinshasa, these new rich live in safe and luxurious enclaves, while children toil in coltan mines in the eastern part of the country. Fally Ipupa has made his money with music.

Others rely on their business acumen, like Patricia Nzolantima, who founded a taxi company and aims to give more opportunities to women. With 3,000 mine workers, Cooperamma is the largest employer in North Kivu, in the east of the DRC. Managing director Robert Seninga says his coltan mines are extremely well-run, yet safety standards are poor. Coltan, a globally coveted mineral, is used in cell phones and other devices. It’s both a blessing and a curse for the Congo. It makes some rich, but for others it means death. The region still suffers from ethnic and factional conflicts, with money from illegal coltan smuggling financing new violence. It’s a vicious cycle.

Analysis: Global Battles For ‘Water’ – A Necessity Or Commodity? (Video)

Water is fundamental to life, yet it’s also a scarce commodity. In many cases, greed and mismanagement are causing this life-giving essential to run dry. What happens when water is monetized? From Australia to California, from New York to London and Brussels, this investigative documentary tells the story of the global struggle over water.

Following rushes to secure gold and oil, the age of the water rush is now here. As well as growing populations and expanding agriculture, there are the problems of environmental degradation and climate change. Global demand for water is skyrocketing. By 2050, at least one in four people will live in a country with a chronic water shortage. The situation has awakened the greed of giant financial institutions, which are going on the offensive, investing billions in the sector. Goldman Sachs, HSBC, UBS, Allianz, Deutsche Bank and BNP are among those pouncing on the commodity known as “blue gold.”

But can fresh water really be considered a commodity on par with oil, coal or wheat? Should the players in these markets – banks and investment funds – be allowed to bet on the value of water? Will concern for profits undermine water’s essential function? Or should this precious resource be declared off-limits to financial speculators? A battle has broken out between those who advocate the monetization of water, and those who defend it as a human right. It’s a battle being fought on many fronts: ideological, political, environmental and, of course, economic. And the fate of the nearly ten billion inhabitants of our planet hinges on its outcome.

Covid-19: Inside Brazil’s Fight Against P.1 Variant

An aggressive Covid-19 variant called P.1 has spread from the Amazon to other parts of Brazil and has now been identified in U.S. cases. WSJ’s Paulo Trevisani reports from Porto Alegre’s overwhelmed hospitals, where doctors say young people are getting ill. Photo: Tommaso Protti for The Wall Street Journal