‘The Warning – How Intelligence and Science Met Climate Change’
ARTE/CNC/Région PACA/Région Ile de France/Seconde Vague Productions – 90′
Set in the USA and Russia from 1963 to the present day this is a major documentary film-of-record on how US and Russian intelligence and military establishments, together with leading scientists and politicians engaged in a unique project to monitor the world’s climate change.
‘Ishiwara Kanji, the Man who triggered the War’
ARTE; Subreal Productions/Arturo Mio – 73′
Most Europeans believe the Second World War started on 1st September 1939, the day the German Army invaded Poland. They also think that the conflict spread to Asia on 7 September 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. In fact, the origins of the conflict go back well before then, namely on 18 September 1931 when Manchuria was invaded by a now-forgotten Japanese general: Ishiwara Kanji. From the 1920s onwards, he set out to propel Japan on a path of confrontation with America and its Allies. Locations: Japan, Germany.
“This exceptional documentary, furnished with extraordinary archive, offers a deep dive into the roots of World War Two” (la Croix); “An extraordinary encounter” (Le Monde); “An instructive and shocking documentary which chills the spine” (Focus)
‘Al Qaeda Confidential’
FR2; Flach Film – 60′
Al Qaeda Confidential is an account of the events which led to 9/11. It reveals how Osama Bin Laden ran his terrorist group and sheds light on the consequences of his assassination earlier this year by American Special Forces. With exclusive access to Abu Jandal, Bin Laden’s bodyguard and confidant; FBI special agent Ali Soufan who hunted Al Qaeda prior to 9/11 and interrogated Jandal immediately afterwards; and Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, who spent years trying to capture or kill him in the face of presidential obstruction, this film offers a fascinating insight into the inner workings of a much-feared organisation. Locations: Yemen, USA.
“A searing investigation into Al Quaeda” (Le Figaro); “Bin Laden’s reprennent bodyguard reveals everything about Al Qaeda” (Les Inrocks); “Chilling portrait of someone who spent six years at the side of the most hunted man in the world” (Teleobs); “This documentary distinguishes itself from others by presenting an especially troubling narrative” (la Croix); “Searing chronicle of full-blown terror” (L’Express); “This documentary takes viewers as close as possible to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden” (Première.fr)
ARTE FRANCE; TelFrance – 78′
Before a drug is sold on the market, it is tested in clinical trials that are strictly regulated. In theory, at least. Because of the mounting costs of conducting trials in the West, and the reluctance of people in the West to participate, clinical trials are now being contracted out to the developing world – principally to India, Latin America, Eastern Europe and China. This documentary film investigation reveals the true nature of the clinical trials process in India, a country that supposedly has tight clinical trial controls. Locations: India, France.
“A spine-chilling investigation” (Le Canard enchainé); “A chilling documentary which denounces the monstrosities commission in the name of medical progress” (Tele Ciné Obs); “Rigorous and chilling investigation”(Télérama); “A scandal” (Humanité Dimanche); “Eloquent investigation” (République)
‘What Happened to our Dreams?’
ARTE G.E.I.E./YLE; Bo Travail – 90′
Documentary film on eastern Europe 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, told using a series of vignettes of former ‘Young Pioneers’ – the communist youth movement that glued together the Soviet bloc’s next generation. Locations: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria.
‘1917, the Russian Revolution’
ARTE G.E.I.E./NRK/ORF/YLE; Films de Bouloi – 104′
Documentary film history of the Russian Revolution, told using extensive archive and interview with historians, artists and writers in Russia and the West. Locations: Russia, UK, France.
“A passionate and inspired evocation of the October Revolution. Marked by its non-conformism and sense of complexity, the film puts the disappearance of the Soviet Union into high context” (le nouvel Observateur); “This exceptional film unpicks all the myths of the revolution which caused all western countries to tremble” (Télérama); “With an impeccable rigour, the film illuminates all the episodes of 1917, in a dense and high-paced fashion while remaining fluid and easy to follow” (Les Inrockuptibles)
‘Murdering the Truth’
Channel 4 Dispatches; October Films – 60′
Documentary film investigation into the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the state of Putin’s Russia, told with access to her colleagues at the Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Location: Russia.
BBC Al Qaeda series
Presented by BBC veteran reporter Peter Taylor, these three films assessed the state of play of the fight-back against Al Qaeda 5 years after 9/11. Locations: Jordan, USA, France, UK, Indonesia, Philippines (Mindanao)
‘AL QAEDA’S GENERAL’ (60’)
Examines the career and demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s fractious leader in Iraq until killed by US air strike in June 2006.
‘AL QAEDA: TIME TO TALK?’ (60’)
With access to leaders of the world’s counter-terrorism services, this film examines the case for a negotiated solution with Al Qaeda and its supporters.
‘AL QAEDA: TURNING THE TERRORISTS’ (60’)
With exclusive access to Nasir Abbas, the most senior Al Qaeda affiliated commander ever to be ‘turned’, this film tells the story of his capture and role now in fighting his erstwhile comrades.
BBC2 – 40′
Presented by author John O’Farrell, this programme pokes fun at over-protective parents, examining the roots of their angst. Location: UK
“a grumpy, amusing diatribe against overprotective parents” (Times); “witty, lucid essay on the anxieties of the modern parenting industry” (Guardian)
‘Battle for Islam’
BBC2 – 90′
Presented by author Ziauddin Sardar, this film gives an account of the attempts by senior Muslim politicians and clerics to rein in the forces of fundamentalism in their countries. Locations: Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco.
BBC Tony Blair series
Presented by veteran BBC political reporter Michael Cockerell, this two-part series examined the increasing loss of faith in then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Location: UK.
“A marvellous double bill of films” (Times); “elegantly made and editorially brave” (Guardian); “good political meat” (FT); “intriguing” (Daily Telegraph);“What I liked best was the detail. That Gordon bashes away at his keyboard with such vigour that it frequently has to be replaced” (Sam Wollaston, Guardian)
‘The Russian Newspaper Murders’/’Les Cimetieres de la glasnost’
BBC Storyville/ARTE/ZDF/VRT; Alegria; 200 Films Ltd – 70′
Documentary film investigation into the way in which Russian journalists are murdered with abandon, with little or no prospect of ever charging those responsible. Location: Russia.
“Riveting documentary” (Times); “excellent” (The Guardian); “a compelling account of how glasnost has taken a serious step backwards under Putin’s premiership” (Daily Telegraph); “admirable, very bleak film” (Financial Times); “disturbing, hard-hitting documentary” (The Independent); “fascinating investigative documentary” (Time Out); “darkly compelling work, immersing us in the life of a small group of reporters” (Wall Street Journal)
‘Israel’s Generals’/’Slaves of the Sword’
BBC Storyville/ARTE; Belfilms; First Hand Films – 3 x 60′
A major three-part series, funded by several international broadcasters, that examines the role of the military in Israeli politics, told through the biographies of three of the country’s generals-cum-leaders. Locations: Israel, Occupied Territories, Gaza.
“long overdue, thoroughgoing, critical biography” (Variety); “gripping documentary” (The Village Voice)
BBC2 & BBC4 Profile – 40′
Presented by Nick Fraser, this film is a no-holds-barred account of former French president Jacques Chirac, a man known for his political acumen and very human frailty. Location: France.
“a jaunty, engaging and enjoyable documentary…perfectly formed” (The Guardian); “most unexpected and vivid… a diligent attempt to expose the French President” (The Times); “explores sex, corruption, fascism…a fast-paced film” (Time Out).
‘That Was the Great War That Was’
Presented by Nick Fraser, this film was made to open a re-showing of the classic BBC Television series on World War One – the ‘Great War’. The 1960’s was made by the cream of the BBC’s programme-making staff; this documentary featured their testimony about the challenges of making the series, cross cut with extracts from the series. Location: UK.
“A fascinating documentary” (The Times)
BBC4 Profile; Green Bay Media – 40′
Presented by Patrick Wright, this programme examined the motivations and career of Tim Smit, the founder of the world-renowned Eden Project in Cornwall. Location: UK.
‘Understanding John Birt’
BBC2 & BBC4 Profile – 40′
Presented by Nick Fraser, this film took an irreverent and humorous look at the BBC’s former Director General, John Birt – a man known for his extreme fastidiousness. Location: UK.
“Witty profile” (Independent); “insightful programme…didn’t pull its punches” (Evening Standard); “a truly Birtist hatchet job…well made, well argued” (Independent on Sunday); “vitriol running down the walls…little nugget packed with loathing” (Guardian)
Channel 4 True Stories; First Circle Films – 90′
An observational documentary film following several Russian conscript soldiers as they experience their first six months of military service. The film revealed for the first time on film the widespread hazing rituals and violence inside Russian army barracks, known has ‘dedovshchina’ – the ‘rule of the grandfathers’. Location: Russia.
“…one of the best documentaries I have seen in a very long time.“ (Sunday Times); “…well executed and realised…a story that needs to be told.” (Radio Times); “…this ballbreaking film exposes the Russian army’s culture of humiliation and brutality…so unbelievable it feels like a drama.” (TV Times); “A superb film…you get the feeling no stone is left unturned.” (Evening Standard); “a real eye-opener” (Daily Express); “compelling” (Financial Times); “a glimpse into a world about which we know little or nothing at all…” (The Guardian).