Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Site Update

Thank you to all of those that have passed on their support in this difficult time for me...it really means a lot!

You may have noticed that OD4U has seemingly disappeared from the internets...not true!

I have unfortunately allowed my domain registration to lapse and am currently unable to use the onlinedocumentaries4u.com domain. I fully intend to recover this domain as the person or company that snapped it up when it became available is clearly cybersquatting and attempting to profit from their actions. This is not allowed under ICANN regulation and I have no doubt the domain will be back in my possession within a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I have reverted back to my original http://documentaries4u.blogspot.com/ address...please update your bookmarks now and let your friends know.

I would also like to let you all know that I will be back to posting documentaries on this site soon. I am currently reviewing where I am with the site and considering if I am going to take the opportunity to revamp OD4U or continue with the Blogger platform.

Any ideas and wishes you may have about how OD4U can be improved will be invaluable to me during this review process.

Finally, thank you all once again for your support.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Discussion Post

I was disappointed to see some people (some long term users of this site), defacing our website via the chat box.

I have removed the chat box until further notice, but you can use the comments on this post to get things off your chest. All of these comments will be moderated.

For all those who were wondering what has happened to me, I have just posted an update on the OD4U Google Forum. Those that are subscibed to the forum will recieve this update as an email today.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beer Wars

Beer lovers eager to learn the facts about their favorite brew are invited to follow filmmaker Anat Baron as she takes an insider's look at America's highly competitive hops industry. The story gets under way as innovative, independent brewers begin challenging the corporate monoliths for a greater share of the thriving American beer market.




Brewers Sam and Rhonda, in particular, are on the front lines in the battle against established industry giants that seem determined to put smaller breweries out of business. Is it possible for independent brewers like Sam and Rhonda to maintain their integrity while resisting the temptation to sell out?

There are no embedable links for this film - click here to watch.

Click here to visit the official website.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

David Icke - Was He Right?

David Icke (pronounced like "ike"), was born in Leicester, England on April 29, 1952. As a young child he always wanted to become a football player when he was older. His dream became a reality when he left school to play football in the English league as a goalkeeper. Due to arthritis that became increasingly worse Icke was forced to eventually give up the game and move into a new career at the age of 21.




David became a reporter with a local newspaper in Leicester and eventually went on to become a sports presenter for BBC South's Program "South Today". David Icke went on a news presenter until 1988 when he joined the Green Party to become the national media spokesperson. During this time Icke started to become more and more spiritually involved and began experiencing contact with the spirit world. He was later banned from speaking on the Green Party's behalf in 1990 for telling them about a message he received from the spirit world.





One of David Icke's most controversial subjects is that of the world being run by a secretive and extra-dimensional Reptilian alien race from the constellation Draco. David explains these beings as walking upright like humans and living not only on the planets they come from, but also underground in tunnels and caverns in the earth. Icke also explains how they have crossbred with humans which created "hybrids" who are possessed by the full-blooded reptilians. This hybrid DNA gives these reptilians the ability to shape-shift from reptilian to human form, granted they have consumed human blood. Icke believes this group includes many of the Global Elites such as George H.W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair to name a few. David claims that these people are either themselves reptilians or work for the reptilians.

Click here to visit the official David Icke website.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Earth - The Power of the Planet

In this landmark BBC series, Dr Iain Stewart tells the story of how our planet works and how, over the course of 4.6 billion years, it came to be the remarkable planet it is today. Examining the great forces that shape the earth - volcanoes, the ocean, the atmosphere and ice - the programme explores their central roles in our planet's story. How do these forces affect the earth's landscape, its climate, and its history?




CGI gives the audience a ringside seat at these great events, while the final episode brings together all the themes of the series and argues that earth is an exceptionally rare kind of planet - giving us a special responsibility to look after our unique world. This is a series that shows the earth in new and surprising ways.

Extensive use of satellite imagery reveals new views of our planet, while time-lapse filmed over many months brings the planet to life. Offering a balance between dramatic visuals and illuminating facts, specialized imaging and gripping narrative, this ground-breaking series makes global science truly compelling.

Volcano




Atmosphere



Ice



Oceans




Rare Earth


Friday, August 21, 2009

Money Talks

Thank you to Holly Mosher for allowing me to post this important documentary on my site. What is this documentary about? In the words of the film's makers...




Money Talks exposes the questionable tactics that big drug companies use to make record profits by playing with the safety of our family's health care. Using misleading advertising, attractive "drug reps" who wine and dine doctors and other unethical practices, the drug industry makes billions of dollars every year selling us unsafe, unnecessary and overpriced drugs. If you want to protect the people you love from their dangerous practices that compromise the safety and quality of our health care, Money Talks is a must-see film.





Click here to visit the official website. If you a sympathetic to the filmaker's cause you may like to consider supporting them by buying the DVD.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Earthlings

Narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings is a feature-length documentary about humankind's absolute economic dependence on animals raised as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research.




Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices at some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. Powerful, informative and thought-provoking, Earthlings is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals and human economic interests.





Click here to visit the official website. If you identify with the issues and causes in this film, you may like to consider purchasing the DVD from the website...all profits go to help save animals.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hoop Dreams

This is not a new documentary, but it is a very good one. This documentary follows two inner-city Chicago residents, Arthur Agee and William Gates, as they follow their dreams of becoming basketball superstars. Beginning at the start of their high school years, and ending almost 5 years later, as they start college, we watch the boys mature into men, still retaining their "Hoop Dreams".




Both are recruited into the same elite high school as their idol, former Detroit Piston superstar Isaiah Thomas. Only one survives the first year; the other must return to a high school closer to his home. Along the way, there is much tragedy, some joy, a great wealth of information about inner city life, and the suspense of not knowing what will occur next.





The rich texture of Hoop Dreams' drama is its greatest asset. This is a film that goes beyond the verisimilitude of something to come from the pen of Spike Lee or John Singleton, into the realm of real life. The shattered illusions of William and Arthur are all the more poignant because these are not the dividends of a screenwriter's fertile imagination. And the drug deals depicted are chilling for exactly the same reason.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bigger Than Enron

On June 15, a Houston jury convicted Arthur Andersen -- the 89-year-old accounting firm once known as the gold standard of integrity in auditing -- for obstruction of justice in the government's investigation of Enron, Andersen's biggest client. With the demise of Andersen, the American business landscape was forever altered. But something else was altered as well: the scandal surrounding Enron and Andersen, together with the wave of other major accounting scandals that have come to light in recent months, has dealt America's markets an unsettling psychological blow. If we can't trust the auditors, investors wonder, whom can we trust?




The meteoric rise and stunning collapse of Enron caused many to question why the corporate oversight system that was supposed to protect investors failed to sound any alarms about the company's dubious finances. But Enron and Arthur Andersen turn out to be merely the tip of the iceberg. In the 1990s, more than 700 U.S. companies were forced to correct misleading financial statements as a result of accounting failures, lapses, or outright fraud. Together with Enron -- the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history -- these failures have cost investors an estimated $200 billion.





Enron's collapse in late 2001 galvanized Congress and brought urgent calls for reform. The House and Senate held hearings and introduced legislation to reform the accounting industry. But so far no bill has passed both chambers and been signed into law. Instead, after prolonged criticism for moving too slowly and being too soft on the accounting firms, SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt has taken the initiative, announcing on June 20 his proposal for a new Public Accountability Board. Critics, however, still say that his plans are too weak, and question whether he is genuinely prepared to cross his former clients in the accounting industry, which he represented as a top Wall Street lawyer throughout the 1990s.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

They Chose China

In January 1954, months after the end of the Korean War, U.S. soldiers held in POW camps were at last free to return home. A small group, however, refused repatriation to the U.S. and, after being given 90 days to reconsider their decision, 21 American soldiers decided to stay in China. In They Chose China, Academy Award-nominated Chinese documentarian Shuibo Wang tells the controversial story of these forgotten American dissidents.




Using rare archival footage, excerpts from American and Chinese TV programs, as well as period and contemporary interviews, They Chose China chronicles the fascinating history of this group of young Americans who were hailed in China as "peace fighters" and denounced in America as "turncoats" and "traitors." U.S. media claimed that these young POW's had been "brainwashed" by the Chinese communists. The film shows conditions inside these Chinese camps, featuring never-before-seen footage, plus contemporary interviews with some of the camps' Chinese translators, instructors, lecturers, and officers.





The majority of the 21 Americans became disillusioned and returned to America, where they recanted their statements and were imprisoned by the military. Others remained in China, got educations, worked in a variety of jobs, married and raised families. In interviews today, several of the surviving men—including those who remained in China and those who returned to the U.S—along with members of their families recount their unusual experiences, explain their thinking at the time, and the nature of their beliefs today.

The Forgotten Refugees

The Forgotten Refugees is a documentary about the mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries and Iran in the 20th century. The Forgotten Refugees explores the history and destruction of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities, some of which had existed for over 2,500 years.




Employing extensive testimony of survivors from Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Iran, the film recounts the stories – of joy and of suffering – that nearly a million individuals have carried with them for so long. Segments on the contributions of Middle Eastern Jews to politics, business and music, testify to the enormously rich cultures which fleeing Jews left behind.




The film weaves personal stories with dramatic archival footage of rescue missions, historic images of exodus and resettlement, and analysis by contemporary scholars, to tell the story of how and why the Arab world’s Jewish population declined from one million in 1945 to several thousand today.

Click here for the official website.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tupac - Resurrection

Title aside, we'll never see the likes of Tupac Shakur again. The late rap superstar was a complex, contradictory figure and, throughout the course of this riveting documentary, it's as if he's back in our world again. Produced by his mother, former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, Tupac Resurrection isn't so much "biased" as it's subjective.




In the MTV film, accompanied by a book and soundtrack, director Lauren Lazin looks at Tupac's short, full life from beginning to end and doesn't avoid the dark times--the arrests, the shootings--but she does tend to emphasize the positive over the negative. More to the point, the narration comes from Tupac himself, smoothly edited from countless interviews, so we're constantly getting his take on events.


English Version




Spanish Version




He's more thoughtful and articulate than his detractors might expect (despite the profanity), but the contradictions remain, making this essential viewing for even the most casual of fans. There is a language warning on this documentary.

Click here to visit the official website.

Taxi to the Dark Side

With this extraordinary film director Alex Gibney makes a convincing and well researched case against the acts of torture, abuse and humiliation committed by the U.S. military against political prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.




A major sub-plot is the story of Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver who ended up dying from injuries suffered while he was held in Bagram, a former Soviet prison coverted into a U.S. detention center for suspected terroists. However, the film explains how Dilawar was actually an innocent man turned in by an actual terroist seeking to throw investigators off his trail. One expert explains how only about 1% of the detainees are actual terroists and that the vast majority were not even arrested by the U.S. military. But rather were turned in by Pakastani and Afghani bounty hunters seeking financial compensation.

The numerous forms of abuse inflicted on these foreign detainees is depicted in gruesome detail. The methods of torture included not only water boarding but various means of sexual humiliation such as having women's panties placed on their heads, forced masturbation and female military officers caressing them while whispering "your mother is a whore" into their ears. The ultimate goal was inflicting a complete mental, physical and emotional breakdown on the prisoners. Other tactics used were sleep depravation achieved by handcuffing detainees to the ceiling for days at a time and the sort of brutal physical assaults that led to the death of the innocent Dilawar.





Of course, it was the low ranking soldiers who ended up facing punishment when these acts of illegal abuse were discovered. But the film makes it very clear that they were simply following orders handed down from the highest levels of the Bush administration. Particularly at fault were chicken hawks Cheney and Rumsfield. In fact, it was Cheney himself who gave this doc its title when he referred to how the U.S. must go over to the "dark side" in its military and intelligence methods.

Click here to visit the official website.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Days

Gus Van Sant's Last Days is a film about the death of Kurt Cobain. While the name of the main character has been changed from Kurt to Blake and the setting of the suicide changed from a greenhouse in Seattle to a greenhouse in upstate New York, there's no mistaking this film is the product of Van Sant's imagination pursuing the final, lonely moments of the great '90s icon. Rock biopic fans seeking a traditionally gratifying plot should run as fast as they can from this movie and see Rock Star or Sid and Nancy instead; Gus Van Sant's methodology is all about the slow, oppressive creep of time.




One shot lingers excruciatingly long on some random foliage outside Blake's (Michael Pitt, The Dreamers) mansion. In another, he makes cereal. Then he sits on a bench for awhile. Or mumbles dialogue to a Yellow Pages ad salesman played by a real-life Yellow Pages ad salesman. Or gradually collapses while watching a Boyz 2 Men video. Meanwhile, Blake's parasitical hangers-on are slightly more animated, occupying his chilly house and clearly on their way to becoming as existentially destitute as he.





Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon appears, pretty much reprising an interventionist role she must have played with the real-life Cobain, but this rock star is far beyond rescuing from the brink. Later, when Blake ventures into town to see a punk show, he is cornered by an acquaintance played by Harmony Korine, who tells him a hilarious story about playing Dungeons and Dragons with Jerry Garcia. Where the accumulation of small moments like these don't add up to much drama, they create a pervading sense of dread and sad inevitability. In his life, Cobain railed against all that was phony and hyped; by crafting a visual poem resolutely defiant of rock star spectacle, Van Sant honors the late singer as sincerely as he can, by keeping it real.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Born into Brothels

Born into Brothels is an inspiring look at the transformative journey of a group of extraordinary children in Calcutta’s red light district. Voted Best Documentary by the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Born into Brothels, which was produced and directed by New York based filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, also garnered over 20 major film festival awards including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.




A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York based photographer, gives each of these youngsters a camera and teaches them how to take pictures, simultaneously causing them to look at their world with new eyes. Together with Ross Kauffman, Briski captures the magical way in which beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places and how a bright and promising future becomes a possibility for children who previously had no future at all.





Touching and heartfelt, yet devoid of sentimentality, Born into Brothels defies the tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spent years with these children and became a part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities, and a true testimony to the power of the indelible creative spirit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Encounters at the End of the World

Werner Herzog is a master filmmaker. Stretching back decades, genres, languages, styles and scope, he continues to be a pioneering creative force. Encounters at the End of the World is the newest reminder of his skill, and joins the growing list of ecologically/environmentally centered documentaries gracing us, the most famous being Davis Guggenheim/Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.




Herzog's Encounters is a somewhat meandering trip to the Southernmost place on Earth, inspired by footage of Antarctica's marine world taken by a friend of his. From the early images of crammed passengers on a cargo plane to the buckethead testing of what to do to get to the outhouse in a blinding blizzard to absolutely stunning footage of underwater life to a wayward penguin's seemingly suicidal venturing into mountainous country, Herzog has fashioned together a commentary on life in one of our harshest environments and the quality and experience of what it is like. An ethereal, primal musical score accompanies the picture, which is narrated by Herzog, like his fabulous Grizzly Man, but more muted and ponderous.





But the film in not merely a Discovery Channel opportunity to remind us of the staggering beauty that rests so far away, so deep and unhospitable. Though the Discovery Channel produced or funded it, Herzog infuses, through interviews of people who find themselves shaken down to this vagabond paradise, a philosophical questing that appears both wonderfully progressive and positive, to his own harsh expression of human futility.

Click here to visit the official site.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Next World - Future Life On Earth

What will our future look like? Floating cities, flying to work and traveling in cars capable of operating underwater? And how will technology advance to make use of our natural resources to help feed our growing population in such areas as food, water and electricity?




The era of smog-filled skies will be over, because fewer of us will be driving cars. There will no longer be the use for cars and roads as we'll be piloting environmentally friendly personal vehicles between cities and under the seas. And we will never be lost again thanks to GPS-driven virtual mapping. Then again, with teleportation we will not need to travel at all.





And, best of all, we'll all have more time to enjoy the astounding advances of our near future, because we'll all be living longer. A lot longer. Find out what we can expect to see in the future in this well produced documentary.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Deliver Us From Evil

A devastating investigation into the pedophilia scandals tearing apart the Catholic Church, Deliver Us From Evil begins by looking into one priest, Father Oliver O'Grady, who agreed to be interviewed by journalist/filmmaker Amy Berg. O'Grady's genial calm is at first ingratiating, until he begins to describe his crimes with an unsettling sociopathic detachment.




But O'Grady's blithe interview is only half of the story, as the documentary also unveils how church superiors covered up O'Grady's crimes and shuffled him from diocese to diocese in northern California, finally placing him in an unsupervised position of authority in a small town, where he sexually assaulted dozens of children; the video deposition of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney is a grotesque portrait in brittle denial.





What makes Deliver Us From Evil crucial viewing, however, are the remarkable interviews with a few of the victims (now adults) and their parents, whose stories are wrenching and riveting. With the support of a priest seeking to reform the church, two of the victims actually go to the Pope, seeking some form of help in addressing O'Grady's crimes. This stunningly potent documentary combines raw feeling with lucid and persuasive discussions of the reasons for--and disturbing breadth of this crisis within the Church.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Standard Operating Procedure

It's impossible to talk about Standard Operating Procedure without referencing Taxi to the Dark Side. Fortunately, both documentaries are vital to any discussion about US military interrogation techniques. While Alex Gibney's Oscar winner uses the death of an Iraqi taxi driver as a framing device, director Errol Morris and writer Philip Gourevitch (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families) examine the issue through visual evidence (they also collaborated on a book of the same name).




While Gibney concentrates on Bhagram, Morris focuses on Abu Ghraib, but his self-described "non-fiction horror film," which features a dramatic Danny Elfman score and slow-motion reenactments, runs along two tracks. First, he aims to find out what happened at the infamous institution. Along with the photographs and video footage, he speaks to the guards and the brigadier general who oversaw their operations, including former army specialist Lynndie England, who has all the charm of Aileen Wuornos (so memorably immortalized in Monster). As in his Thin Blue Line, accounts contradict other accounts.





In Morris's world, absolute truth doesn't exist; it's up to viewers to decide which subjects seem most reliable. This leads to his parallel goal, which is to question the reliability of imagery. Photography was prohibited at Abu Ghraib, so he identifies the responsible parties, the reasoning behind their rule-breaking, and the stories behind the most incendiary pictures. If less emotionally engaging than Gibney's feature, Standard Operating Procedure is just as essential--and every bit as disturbing.

Click here to visit the official site.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gonzo - The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Many of the documentaries I will be posting over the next month or so will be ones that won industry awards in 2008..."Gonzo" definately falls into this catagory. Bad boy journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson - equally famous for his railings against the Nixon administration in the pages of Rolling Stone and his well-chronicled personal adventures with drugs, alcohol and the Hell's Angels -was an iconic counter-cultural hero of the 1960s and '70s.




After Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Taxi to the Dark Side, Hunter S. Thompson seems like an odd subject for Alex Gibney to take on. Unlike the Enron executives or Baghram guards, the gonzo journalist didn't bilk old ladies out of their savings or torture Iraqi citizens. Nonetheless, the director's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Taxi shares an interest in the uses and abuses of power.


PART ONE



Gibney recounts the major biographical details, from birth to suicide, but his film really comes alive when he gets to the late-1960s. Though Thompson remains best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gonzo concentrates on his coverage of the 1968 and '72 presidential elections. The author was particularly excited about George McGovern, and chose advocacy over non-partisan reporting. McGovern, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Steadman, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, and others testify to Thompson's enthusiasm for the South Dakota senator--and hatred for Nixon.


PART TWO



Gibney argues that the fire started to die after Hunter witnessed the brutal treatment of protesters at Chicago’s Democratic Convention. Disillusionment led to an erosion of his talent and an escalation of his self-destructive tendencies. As Johnny Depp, who played him in Fear and Loathing, reads passages from his work, the doctor's friends and family provide a glimpse of the insecure man behind the brash image. Gibney's evenhanded depiction may disappoint true believers hoping for a glorified puff piece, but Thompson's ability to speak truth to power with wit and passion comes through loud and clear.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flow - For Love of Water

Irena Salinas' documentary is about the global crisis we face as Earth's fresh water supply constantly diminishes. The film presents top experts and advocates to show us that every aspect of human life is affected by pollution, wastefulness, privatization and corporate greed as it relates to fresh water--a natural resource more valuable than oil. The film shows in no uncertain terms that if we continue to abuse our water supply, Earth will become uninhabitable and humankind will become extinct. The investigation points fingers at water companies such as Nestle, Vivendi, Thames, Suez, Coca Cola and Pepsi. This is an extremely important must-see documentary!




From the documentary’s opening moments, director Salinas engages us with a beautifully photographed montage of babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, melting icebergs and surfer-worthy ocean waves. Over the refreshing images and soothing audio, the title FLOW quickly appears on the screen, followed by its expanded version For Love Of Water. We are then reminded that water is essential for human life and well-being, and we are informed that millions of people--babies, in particular--die from lack of fresh water every year.





Salinas takes us on a worldwide tour of water-related disasters, every one of them the product of human abuse--pollution, privatization and corporate greed, inexcusable wastefulness and, to put it in terms that are simplistic but true, lack of respect for mother nature’s grand design.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bastards of the Party

Raised in the Athens Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Cle "Bone" Sloan was four years old when his father died, and 12 when he became a member of the Bloods. Now an inactive member of the notorious gang, Sloan looks back at the history of black gangs in his city and makes a powerful call for change in modern gang culture with his insightful documentary, Bastards of the Party.




Bastards of the Party draws its title from this passage in "City of Quartz": "The Crips and the Bloods are the bastard offspring of the political parties of the '60s. Most of the gangs were born out of the demise of those parties. Out of the ashes of the Black Panther Party came the Crips and the Bloods and the other gangs." Bastards of the Party traces the timeline from that "great migration" to the rise and demise of both the Black Panther Party and the US Organization in the mid- 1960s, to the formation of what is currently the culture of gangs in Los Angeles and around the world.





The documentary also chronicles the role of the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI in the evolution of gang culture. During his tenure from 1950 to 1966, Chief Robert Parker bolstered the ranks of the LAPD with white recruits from the south, who brought their racist attitudes with them. Parker's racist sympathies laid the groundwork for the volatile relationship between the black community and the LAPD that persists today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vlad The Impaler

This documentary examines the bloody career of Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century prince of Wallachia who took no prisoners in his resistance to the spread of the Ottoman Empire. Known as Dracula, he learned the arts of war as a hostage of the Turks, but asserted his independence by working his own disloyal nobles to death and repelling a Turkish invasion by filling the battlefield with 23,000 impaled corpses.




When he came to power, Vlad immediately had all the assembled nobles arrested. The older boyars and their families were immediately impaled. The younger and healthier nobles and their families were marched north from Târgovişte to the ruins of Poienari Castle in the mountains above the Argeş River.





Vlad was determined to rebuild this ancient fortress as his own stronghold and refuge. The enslaved boyars and their families were forced to labor for months, rebuilding the old castle with materials from another nearby ruin. According to tradition, they laboured until the clothes fell off their bodies and then were forced to continue working naked. Very few of the old gentry survived the ordeal of building Vlad's castle. This documentay is a must for those that like to seperate fact from myth.

I'm Back!

After a prolonged absence, I am finally able to get back to my beloved website. I don't want to bore you all with the details...suffice to say I have been going through somewhat of a rough patch lately.




Firstly, thank you to all of my loyal regular visitors. I have read through all of the comments on the chat box and it was nice to see so many well wishers. Thank you for your enduring support!

It will no doubt take some time for me to "hit my stride" again, but I promise that you will see some of the most amazing documentaries here over the coming months.

So without any further adieu...let's get into some great documentaries!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Timothy Leary - The Man Who Turned on America

Timothy Leary was early advocate of LSD experimentation. Leary taught psychology at Harvard and by 1960 was doing experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens, first on prison inmates and then on himself and his friends. LSD was not illegal at the time. In 1960, Allen Ginsberg, supervised by Leary, ingested psilocybin mushrooms, (under the influence of the drug, he phoned Jack Kerouac, identifying himself as God to the telephone operator), and began to spread the word about the new powerful psychedelic drugs.




In August 1960, Leary traveled to the Mexican city of Cuernavaca with Russo and tried psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, an experience that drastically altered the course of his life. In 1965, Leary commented that he "learned more about... (his) brain and its possibilities... (and) more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than... (he) had in the preceding fifteen years of studying doing research in psychology."




Upon his return to Harvard that fall, Leary and his associates, notably Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass), began a research program known as the Harvard Psilocybin Project. The goal was to analyze the effects of psilocybin on human subjects (in this case, prisoners and later students of the Andover Newton Theological Seminary) using a synthesized version of the then-legal drug— one of two active compounds found in a wide variety of hallucinogenic mushrooms including Psilocybe mexicana. The compound was produced according to a synthesis developed by research chemist Albert Hofmann of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.





Leary argued that psychedelics, used with the right dosage, set and setting could, with the guidance of psychology professionals, alter behavior in unprecedented and beneficial ways. The goals of Leary's research included discovering better methods for treating alcoholism and to reform convicted criminals. Many of Leary's research participants reported profound mystical and spiritual experiences, which they claim permanently altered their lives in a very positive manner. According to Leary's autobiography, Flashbacks, they administered LSD to 300 professors, graduate students, writers and philosophers, and 75 percent of them reported it as being like a revelation to them and one of the most educational experiences of their lives.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

People Must Love Their Leader!

Idi Amin Dada is a name that is familiar to many over the age of 35, but is almost unknown to those younger than that. The story of Idi Amin is an example the potential of humanity to carry out the most grave atrocities and offers a lesson for us all. This self proclaimed leader of Uganda came to power via a coup, but was eventually challenged by armed exile group. How Uncle Idi chose to deal with this threat makes him one of the most notorious genocidal dictators of the previous century.




Wiki has this to say about the dark years of Idi Amin's rule in Uganda during the 1970s.

Amin retaliated against the attempted invasion by Ugandan exiles in 1972 by purging the army of Obote supporters, predominantly those from the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups. In July 1971, Lango and Acholi soldiers were massacred in the Jinja and Mbarara Barracks, and by early 1972, some 5,000 Acholi and Lango soldiers, and at least twice as many civilians, had disappeared. The victims soon came to include members of other ethnic groups, religious leaders, journalists, senior bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, students and intellectuals, criminal suspects, and foreign nationals. In some cases entire villages were wiped out. In this atmosphere of violence, many other people were killed for criminal motives or simply at will. Bodies floated on the River Nile in quantities sufficient to clog the Owen Falls Hydro-Electric Dam in Jinja on at least one occasion.

The killings, motivated by ethnic, political and financial factors, continued throughout Amin's eight-year reign.
The exact number of people killed is unknown. The International Commission of Jurists estimated the death toll at no less than 80,000 and more likely around 300,000. An estimate compiled by exile organizations with the help of Amnesty International puts the number killed at 500,000. In August 1972, Idi Amin declared what he called an "economic war", a set of policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians and Europeans. Uganda's 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent and born in the country, whose ancestors had come to Uganda when the country was still a British colony.




Many owned businesses, including large-scale enterprises, that formed the backbone of the Ugandan economy. On 4 August 1972, Amin issued a decree ordering the expulsion of the 60,000 Asians who were not Ugandan citizens (most of them held British passports). This was later amended to include all 80,000 Asians, with the exception of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers. A plurality of the Asians with British passports, around 30,000, emigrated to Britain. Others went to Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Sweden, and the U.S. Amin expropriated businesses and properties belonging to the Asians and handed them over to his supporters. The businesses were mismanaged, and industries collapsed from lack of maintenance. This proved disastrous for the already declining economy.

Stories From The Stone Age

Stories From The Stone Age is a three-part documentary that attempts to explain why and how humans abandoned the nomadic hunting and gathering existence they had known for millennia to take up a completely new way of life - the decisive move to farming.




The programs also look at the beginning of the domestication of animals, permanent settlements and the discovery of metals - setting the stage for the arrival of the world's first civilisation. Based on extensive research, Stories From The Stone Age takes us on a journey where we get to live alongside our ancestors as they cross between the Old and the New Worlds and into civilisation.

PART ONE




PART TWO




PART THREE




The series utilises detailed re-enactments and short interviews with key archaeological experts. The series asks some intriguing questions. Why did some of our ancestors never become farmers at all? Why do some still continue hunting and gathering despite their contact with farming people and advanced technologies? How and why did our paths become uniquely shaped after emerging as a species from a single genetic family in Africa?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Lost Gospel of Judas

Thanks to Hung for suggesting this documentary. Old heresies die hard! The discovery of ancient texts such as the Gospel of Judas has sparked renewed interest in many ideas rejected by the early church. This documentary uncovers the truth behind the supposed "secrets" of Gnosticism. Featuring interviews with leading historians and scholars, it examines Gnosticism's origins, its early influence---and what's fueling its resurgence today.




What if an ancient gospel was rediscovered that offered a radically different perspective on a man that history has painted as the ultimate villain? What if this account turned Jesus' betrayal on its head, and in it the villain became a hero?





This documentary provides exclusive access to the documents and evidence that traces the incredible story of what has happened to the Gospel of Judas since it was found. Combining dramatic recreations and insightful analysis by the world's foremost experts, they ask and answer the question: Is the Gospel of Judas real?

Click here for the official website.

Grass - The History Of Marijuana

This film explores the history of the American government's official policy on marijuana in the 20th century. Rising with nativist xenophobia with Mexican immigration and their taste for smoking marijuana, we see the establishment of a wrong headed federal drug policy as a crime issue as oppposed to a public health approach. Fuelled by prejudice, hysterical propaganda and political opportunism undeterred by voices of reason on the subject, we follow the story of a costly and futile crusade against a substance with questionable ill effects that has damaged basic civil liberites.




The history of marijuana in the United States since its unofficial introduction in the early twentieth century is presented. As a product, it has been a focus of a strong government campaign to rids its distribution and use, primarily from the 1930's to the 1970's. Harry J. Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and President Richard Nixon were the chief persons waging the war. During the early battle, marijuana was popularly thought to cause a slew of maladies, including temporary insanity and murderous tendencies, as depicted through such movies as Marihuana (1936/I) aka "Reefer Madness".





This popular belief led to marijuana being effectively classified an illegal substance in the United States in 1937. When some of these myths were debunked, especially through the free-wheeling 1960's, anti-marijuana messaging turned to it being a gateway substance to stronger more dangerous illicit drugs, such as heroin. As much of the marijuana coming into the United States since the 1950's was from China, the government also used anti-Communist messaging. Both Anslinger and Nixon quashed any scientific reports that came out refuting the government's claims, such as a report commissioned by New York Mayor 'Fiorello Laguardia' . To the end of the century, America's war on marijuana has cost the government several billions of dollars

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Phantoms in the Brain

What would you say about a woman who, despite stroke-induced paralysis crippling the entire left side of her body, insists that she is whole and strong--who even sees her left hand reach out to grasp objects? Freud called it "denial"; neurologists call it "anosognosia." However it may be labeled, this phenomenon and others like it allow us peeks into other mental worlds and afford us considerable insight into our own.




The writings of Oliver Sacks and others have shown us that we can learn much about ourselves by looking closely at the deficits shown by people with neurological problems. V.S. Ramachandran has seen countless patients suffering from anosognosia, phantom limb pain, blindsight, and other disorders, and he brings a remarkable mixture of clinical intuition and research savvy to bear on their problems. He is one of the few scientists who are able and willing to explore the personal, subjective ramifications of his work; he rehumanizes an often too-sterile field and captures the spirit of wonder so essential for true discovery.


PART ONE




PART TWO




Phantoms in the Brain is equal parts medical mystery, scientific adventure, and philosophical speculation. Whether you're curious about the workings of the brain, interested in alternatives to expensive, high-tech science (much of Ramachandran's research is done with materials found around the home), or simply want a fresh perspective on the nature of human consciousness, you'll find this to be an interesting documentary.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Science Of Stress

Scientists have known for many decades that the brain has a system to calm the body (the parasympathetic system) and a system to activate the body or get it ready to deal with a specific stress or fear (the sympathetic nervous system). The sympathetic system, when stimulated, is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, a primitive state that gets us ready to fight or flee when we are threatened or scared.




This “hard-wired response” happens with overt physical threats (such as being approached by a vicious dog) and also with more covert, internal, emotional threats (such as a self-esteem injury or worry about the future). The heart beats faster, muscles tense, hands sweat to cool the body, breathing rate and blood pressure increase, the hands and feet become cooler to shunt blood from the extremities to the big muscles (to fight or run away), and the pupils dilate (to see better). This response to stress is powerful and immediate.




This documentary is an investigation into the damaging affects of stress where foremost experts in fields stretching from psychology to cardiovascular science unravel the secrets of the greatest scourge of modern times. The film follows a fictional couple over the course of 24 hours as they confront the stresses of the 21st Century.

Inside North Korea

Is it just me, or is North Korea one of the most insane places in the world these days? Are you ready to cross into one of the world's most secretive nations, for a rare glimpse of the country and its absolute dictator Kim Jong Il. In this documentary, Lisa Ling takes us on a rare look inside North Korea - something few Americans have ever been able to do.




Posing as an undercover medical coordinator and closely guarded throughout her trip, Lisa moves inside the most isolated nation in the world, encountering a society completely dominated by government and dictatorship. Glimpse life inside North Korea as you've never seen before with personal accounts and powerful footage. Witness first-hand efforts by humanitarians and the challenges they face from the rogue regime.





North Korea offers us a vision of perhaps the most excessive personality cult in modern history. Wiki has this to say about the Kim Jong Il...

Critics maintain Kim Jong-il is the centre of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. He is often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country.

On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country. One point of view is that Kim Jong Il's cult of personality is solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage. Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view, while North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship. The song No Motherland Without You, sung by the North Korean Army Choir, was created especially for Kim and is one of the most popular tunes in the country.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Dark Side Of Everest

It's the highest peak in the world and holds a unique fascination for extreme climbers. The Dark Side Of Everest asks what it is about the mountain that seduces the sane and taunts the reckless. Why are people prepared to sacrifice their relationships, bank balances and even their lives, just to be able to say: "I've stood on top of the world"? Why, on its slopes, are people so readily prepared to walk past others who are dying? What is it about Everest that continues to lure men and women to its peak, whatever the cost?




"For some mountaineers, the top of the world also represents the peak of human ambition. But when things go badly high on Everest, as they will sooner or later, difficult moral dilemmas play out in dramatic fashion on a global stage.




National Geographic Channels International takes viewers to The Dark Side of Everest through the eyes and minds of those who've struggled with the mountain's powerful and potentially fatal allure. Everest veterans discuss how the mountain's hostile environment can affect the human values of those who dare to challenge its heights."

Control Room

Thanks to Nik for suggesting this one. Startling and powerful, Control Room is a documentary about the Arab television network Al-Jazeera's coverage of the U.S.-led Iraqi war, and conflicts that arose in managed perceptions of truth between that news media outlet and the American military.




Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim catches the frantic action at Al-Jazeera headquarters as President Bush stipulates his 48-hour, get-out-of-town warning to Saddam Hussein and sons, soon followed by the network's shocking footage of Iraqi civilians terrorized and killed by invading U.S. troops.





Al-Jazeera's determination to show images and report details outside the Pentagon's carefully controlled information flow draws the wrath of American officials, who accuse it of being an al-Qaida propagandist. Most fascinating is the way Control Room allows well-meaning, Western-educated, pro-democratic Arabs an opportunity to express views on Iraq as they see it - in an international context, and in a way most Americans never hear about.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Moon Mysteries

Drifting further from Earth, the Moon has created seasons, the 24-hour day, tides and perhaps even influenced evolution. Is the moon powerful enough to trigger natural disasters? Can the moon influence human behavior? This documentary puts a tightly-focused lens on the mysteries of the moon.




Without the moon in its regular orbit around the planet, would life exist on Earth? Or would the climate teeter between cataclysmic extremes? Today, the moon shines brightly in the night sky from about a quarter of a million miles away.


When it first formed though, it was 15 times closer to Earth and its gravity had a tremendous influence on the planet. Slowly drifting further away from Earth, the moon has reshaped the world. It created seasons, the 24-hour day, tides and may have even influenced the evolution of life here on Earth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oceans

What lies below the frozen Arctic ice-sheets? Or in the black holes under the Caribbean Sea? The oceans are Earth's single most important feature. They shape our climate, our culture, our future. Yet we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about Earth's watery depths.




Explorer Paul Rose leads a team of ocean experts in a series of global science expeditions. With him, maritime archaeologist Dr Lucy Blue investigates our past and our relationship with the sea, exploring shipwrecks and lost civilisations; marine biologist and Oceanographer Tooni Mahto seeks the extraordinary life in our oceans today; and environmentalist Philippe Cousteau Jr looks to the future of our oceans and charts the way they're changing.


PART ONE - Sea of Cortez



PART TWO - Southern Ocean



PART THREE - Red Sea



PART FOUR - Atlantic Ocean



PART FIVE - Indian Ocean



PART SIX - Not available yet!


PART SEVEN - Mediterranean Sea



PART EIGHT - Not available yet!


Filmed in High Definition in some of the most beautiful, diverse and threatened seas on our planet, the team travels across the world to the Southern Ocean, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Sea of Cortez, the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean, to dive the depths of the world's seas and oceans. The planet's seas are changing fast and Oceans builds up a timely global picture of our planet's most magnificent and vital asset.

Click here to visit the official website.

The Boy With The Incredible Brain

Daniel Tammet is a twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel is one of the world’s few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week. This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone. He also meets the world’s most famous savant, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Oscar winning film ‘Rain Man’.




As a baby, Daniel cried constantly and banged his head against the wall. His parents were frantic but all doctors could suggest was that he was understimulated. One afternoon when he was four, an accident changed the way Daniel thought forever. While playing with his brother in the living room he suffered a series of epileptic seizures which transformed his brain chemistry, giving him the gift of synaesthesia.





This condition occurs when the parts of the brain responsible for different areas of perception get mixed up. Brain scans of autistic savants suggest that the right hemisphere might be compensating for damage in the left hemisphere. While many savants struggle with language and comprehension - skills associated primarily with the left hemisphere - they often have amazing skills in mathematics and memory - primarily right hemisphere skills. Daniel began to respond emotionally to numbers, which he started to ‘see’ as complex, beautiful shapes and textures.

Jonestown - The Final Report

This documentary looks at the tragic death of 913 men, women and children who lived in a religious compound in the jungles of Guyana, South America, and investigates leader Jim Jones and his message of brotherhood and social justice.




Wiki has this to say about Jonestown...

Jonestown was the informal name for the "Peoples Temple Agricultural Project", an intentional community in northwestern Guyana formed by the Peoples Temple, a cult from California, United States, led by Jim Jones. It became internationally notorious in November 1978, when 918 people died in the settlement as well as in a nearby airstrip and in Georgetown, Guyana's capital. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.





On November 18, 1978, 909 Temple members died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning in an event termed "revolutionary suicide" by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions. To the extent the actions in Jonestown were viewed as a mass suicide, it is the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001. The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at a nearby Port Kaituma airstrip. The victims included Congressman Leo Ryan, the first and only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in the history of the United States.