The “New Silk Road” is an enormous Chinese international development project. It’s a trade network that involves Asia, Africa, and Europe — and more than 70 countries are already involved. It may turn the old world order upside down. China is investing in bridges, port facilities, railroads, and roads around the world. Beijing is spending several hundred billion euros on what it calls the “Silk Road Economic Belt.” Eastern European and the Balkan countries in particular are interested in Chinese loans and investments, as they look beyond the EU for sources of capital. In turn, the region is attractive to China because of its strategic position as a gateway to the West. A new coal-fired power plant is being built in Tuzla, Bosnia, with the help from China. But not everyone is in favor of the project. While the new plant will emit fewer emissions which will have a positive effect on air-quality, some question the country’s decision to commit to using coal for decades to come.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest medical challenges of our time. Among the causes are industrial livestock farming, poor hygiene in hospitals, and the misuse of antibiotics. This documentary looks at approaches to fighting multiresistant strains of bacteria.
Each year 33,000 people in Europe die after becoming infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Hygiene specialist Dr. Ron Hendrix has been working for years to prevent outbreaks of infectious disease in hospitals. Dr. Hendrix says that he and other experts in the Netherlands recognized early on that they’d have to fight the spread of bacteria just as actively as they would the actual infection.
Hendrix has convinced a number of German hospitals to re-open their diagnostic laboratories, as well. In the early 2000s, many of these labs had been shut down as a cost-cutting measure. And farmers in Denmark voluntarily chose to sharply reduce their use of antibiotics, after evidence showed that intensive livestock farming caused multiresistant bacteria to multiply.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Patrick Soentjens was able to convince Belgium’s health ministry to allow the use of “phages” to treat stubborn antimicrobial resistant pathogens. Phages are special viruses that kill bacteria. Dr. Soentjens is certain that this well-known, but largely forgotten option could save many lives. Belgium has become the first western European country where phages have been officially recognized as a legitimate medical treatment.
Kyushu is said to be the wellspring of Japanese civilization. Yet few tourists visit the southernmost of Japan’s main islands. This documentary contrasts modern Japanese cities with traditional customs in the countryside.
The rail journey begins in Fukuoka – a city with a metro population of 2.5 million – and ends at the southern tip of the island, in the city of Ibusuki. As the train rolls along, it travels through time – and reveals the amazing diversity and contrasts of the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands. The trip provides spectacular landscape views, as well as deep insight into a foreign culture, and its ancient traditions and modern lifestyles. In the West, Kyushu is one of the lesser-known regions in the “Land of the Rising Sun.”
Even for the Japanese, the green, mountainous island is seen mostly as a holiday spot. Europeans rarely visit this part of the country – but there are plenty of restaurants and cafes that have names like “Wolfgang,” “Bavaria,” or “Côte d’Azur.” Travel guides say that these words sound “European” to Japanese.
The family of the emperor, or Tenno, comes from Kyushu as well. This is also where the dynasties of the proud warrior class, the samurai, have their roots. And there are a number of active volcanoes on Kyushu. One of the most famous is Mount Aso. Its caldera – the cauldron-like hollow at the top — has a circumference of about 120 kilometers.
A new generation of investors wants to force businesses to become environmentally-friendly. Even climate conservationists know that money talks, but can green investments really save the world? Green investment rewards companies that use sustainable production practices and protect the environment. At the same time, companies that pollute or contribute to global warming are deprived of funds.
The strategy converts the once secondary issue of the environment into hard, cold cash. Antonis Schwarz is 30 years old — and an investor, philanthropist, and activist. His slogan is “cash against climate change.” Schwarz, like many other wealthy millennials, sees climate change as the key variable when it comes to investing money. These people intentionally put their cash into companies and projects that protect the environment. Schwarz believes that those who are well-off have a special responsibility to follow this strategy. He says, “When you are able to change something and you don’t, you’re complicit. We all have to become fully involved, so we can prevent a climate disaster.”
This philosophy can be summed up with the following question: “What’s the point of having loads of money if it becomes worthless because you’re living on a planet that’s becoming increasingly chaotic?” Institutional investors have more money at their disposal than wealthy private individuals do. Their approach is also changing — and not out of pure idealism. Extreme weather events caused by climate change, for example, are bad for business. They can force corporations to write off billions in damages.
This documentary goes behind the scenes to take a closer look at the financial markets. How well does “impact investing” work? Can investors really move large, powerful corporations to change their strategies? Politicians have so far failed to do precisely that.
The Finnmarksløpet in Norway is the longest and toughest dogsled race in Europe. Among this year’s competitors are Ben Voigt from Germany and 20-year-old native Hanna Lyrek. It’s a race that is always full of surprises and setbacks.
Telecommunications giant Huawei is said to be one of the most powerful companies in China. But Huawei has been accused of systematic espionage, and some Western governments doubt whether the company is truly independent of the Chinese government.
This documentary investigates concerns about Huawei and internet security. The company is a major player in the manufacture of smartphones, and enjoys a technological lead in the development of the super-fast 5G broadband network worldwide. But the US and some other Western countries suspect that Huawei works closely with the Chinese government on espionage and sabotage operations.
Has Huawei becomne a pawn in the trade war between the US and China? The arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada in 2018 — at the request of US authorities — marked the climax of the conflict between Huawei and Washington. Some European countries also have concerns about the company.
Does Huawei really have close ties to the Chinese government? And what are the benefits and risks for those foreign clients who choose to work with this 5G giant?
The world’s major powers agree: the resources of Antarctica should be exploited peacefully. They have promised to promote peace and scientific research in Antarctica, and to protect its environment. But is this spirit real, or just a lot of talk?
This documentary features interviews with researchers, activists, diplomats, and military personnel from Spain, Russia, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, and the United States. There’s been much debate over how to share control of resources in Antarctica, which is the world’s oldest ecosystem. Critics say that behind the scenes, a game of high-stakes poker is underway. Could this competition end in armed conflict? Or will Antarctica serve as a model for peaceful international cooperation? This film addresses these complicated issues with in-depth analysis, accompanied by magnificent images of the Antarctic landscape. The documentary’s soundtrack was composed by Javier Weyler, former drummer of the Welsh rock band, the Stereophonics.
Two film crews explore the spectacular wilderness of the Arctic. The people who live there face dramatic changes.
Part two takes viewers from East Greenland to Alaska. The region around the North Pole is one of the greatest and least-known wildernesses in the world – and it’s rapidly changing due to global warming. 350 people, most of them Inuit, live in Ittoqqortoormiit in Greenland. The nearest settlement is on neighboring Iceland. Almost 800 kilometers of Arctic Ocean separate the two islands. The film team accompanies an Inuit family through Scoresby Sound, a fjord system on the eastern coast of Greenland.
They travel hundreds of kilometers in small boats through pack ice, passing icebergs as high as skyscrapers. On the way they meet whalers who are hunting for narwhals in summer. In this Inuit culture, narwhal skin and polar bear goulash have ensured survival for thousands of years. Greenpeace and WWF activists want to stop whaling and polar bear hunting – but this poses a threat to the indigenous way of life on Greenland.
On the expedition through the world’s largest fjord system, the team learns about the consequences of global warming: melting permafrost and a rapid increase in greenhouse gases. The changes are worrying. Some say they have brought benefits to the far north — the ice breaks up earlier and so too does the hunting season. However, the risks outweigh this benefit. The knowledge and way of life that have been passed down from generation to generation may soon be unsustainable.
The Arctic is one of the most fascinating regions on our planet, and one of the most threatened. Two film crews explore its spectacular wilderness in a two-part documentary. Part one takes viewers from Norway’s Svalbard archipelago to Siberia. The region around the North Pole is one of the greatest and least-known wildernesses in the world, and it’s rapidly changing due to global warming.
The retreat of Arctic sea ice can be observed everywhere along the Arctic Circle, presenting those who live there with dramatic changes. This documentary takes viewers on a journey through the Arctic circle and explores those changes. It begins in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, a place to see one of nature’s most spectacular displays — the northern lights. With the ice retreating, cruise ships can now travel further north than was previously possible. This places a strain on the fragile ecosystem.
But more visitors may also mean more awareness about the risks that face the region, and more motivation to protect the Arctic. But as if often the case, protecting nature in the Arctic is at odds with economic interests. Russia, in particular, is keen to sell Arctic fossil fuels to the rest of world. The film next takes viewers to the gas-rich Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia, where the Russian company Novatek has built the northernmost industrial facility on the globe.
Further East in Yakutia, two noises fill the air: the relentless buzzing of mosquitoes that infest the Siberian tundra in summer, and the steady dripping of the thawing permafrost on the banks of the Kolyma River. The film’s journey ends in Chukotka in the northeast of Russia, a region closer to Alaska than to the Russian capital Moscow.
Neuschwanstein Castle is said to have inspired Walt Disney. This is the untold story of the Bavarian castle, which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year, and is also known as the ‘castle of the fairy tale king.’ Just over 150 years ago, in 1869, construction of Neuschwanstein Castle began in Bavaria, Germany.
This documentary gives a behind-the-scenes view of the famous building, which is said to have inspired the Disney castle. Neuschwanstein was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria, a man known also as the Swan King or the Fairy Tale King, but also as Mad King Ludwig. Ludwig II did not enjoy reigning. He dreamt of a life surrounded by nature, was an ardent fan of Wagner, and loved mythical imagery. Neuschwanstein Castle was his dream realized in stone. But it was also a withdrawal from his duties as head of state.
And the more Ludwig II hid away in his dream castle, the more he angered his ministers. They saw his artistic and architectural projects as overly extravagant. Eventually, this ‘overindulgence’ was used as grounds to declare him insane. He was interned in 1886. Just days later, he drowned in Lake Starnberg under mysterious circumstances, together with the psychiatrist who had certified him insane. Six weeks after the death of Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle was opened to visitors.
The decision was also an effort to convince the public that the king had been ‘mad,’ and many came to see the castle. Then came the World Wars and Neuschwanstein was briefly forgotten by the public. During the Third Reich, Nazis misused it to store looted art. But the castle survived the wars unscathed. After the end of World War II, U.S. troops reached the castle. Before long, it had become a favorite among GIs stationed in Germany, and Neuschwanstein was once again a much-loved tourist attraction. Today, it’s a tourist phenomenon. This documentary offers a behind-the-scenes view of Neuschwanstein, a place that continues to cast its spell on those who visit, as the legend of King Ludwig II of Bavaria lives on.