Presented by author and activist Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth explores the phenomenon of how the social power and prominence of women has increased in the past few decades, alongside a paradoxical increase in the pressure they feel to adhere to unrealistic social standards of physical beauty, appearance and presentation. It seems the more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us. Women have breached the power structure, but meanwhile eating disorders have risen exponentially and cosmetic surgery has become a fastest-growing specialty. Pornography has become the main media category—ahead of legitimate films and records combined—and thirty-three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal. How did this come to be? The Beauty Myth shows how the edacious commercial culture drives this pressure and leads to a pervasive preoccupation with appearance in both sexes, compromising the ability of women to be effective in and accepted by society. The film is a call to question the culture and redefine the notions of success, beauty and indeed what it means to be a sane human being in this toxic culture.
The Bentley Effect recounts the story of citizens throughout the Northern Rivers shire of Australia protesting against coal-seam gas extraction. When the community first learns of the news, a critical mass of people from all walks of life—farmers, landowners, mums, dads, activists, and scientists—come together to rally against the invasion. But despite enormous public opposition, the gas industry and the State Government are determined to see their plan through. So the community changes tact and resorts to differing methods of civil disobedience and non-violent protest. This culminates in a music festival of sorts in Bentley, New South Wales, which brings together the community and also spurs them on to initiating political action.
In 2018, Professor Shoshana Zuboff published The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, a monumental book about the new global economy, where the biggest technology corporations extract, manipulate, and trade our personal information, data about our lives, and data about our personalities, on a scale never before possible. How did this happen? In The Big Data Robbery, Zuboff starts with the volatile dot-com boom and bust of the late 1990s and 2000s. How did Google, a company created during that time, survive the bursting of the Internet bubble? Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin discover that the “residual data” that people leave behind in their searches on the Internet is very precious and tradable, and begin as one corporation of many, the Big Data Robbery, extracting and building huge datasets about people. Zuboff takes the lid off Google and Facebook to reveal a merciless form of capitalism in which the citizen itself now serves as a raw material.
Mongolia is the next target for the world’s biggest mining corporations for copper. The Oyu Tolgoi mine currently under construction in the South Gobi Desert is a combined open-pit and underground mine due to start extraction in the next few months of 2012. But the problems don’t end there. The Oyu Tolgoi deal between the Mongolian government and the massive Australian mining company Rio Tinto is truly indicative—Mongolia gets just 34 percent, while Rio Tinto is exempt from a profits tax and receives open access to scarce desert aquifers and the provisioning of water to people living close to land that the mining company now claims to own. The Big Dig documents how this avaricious mining-driven culture comes at the expense of the natural world and the way of life of local communities.
On April 22, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, run by oil giant BP, sunk into the Gulf of Mexico—creating the world’s biggest and most catastrophic environmental crime in history. After over 750 million litres of crude oil and millions of litres of the chemical dispersant Corexit dumped into the sea, the disaster was deemed over and all damage repaired. This is bullshit however. Film-makers Josh and Rebecca Tickell travel to the Gulf of Mexico to document first-hand the extent of environmental and community damage, continuing many years after the explosion. Beginning by tracing BP’s origins and fingerprints across decades of US manipulation in Iran, The Big Fix assembles an indictment of this monumental disaster by unpacking the workings of the complex oligarchies that put pursuit of profit over all other ends…
The Big Sellout reveals the reality of privatisation and globalisation by examining the corporate takeover of basic public services throughout the world, such as water supply, electricity, public transportation, and public health care. In South America, Asia, Africa, but also in Europe and the United States, filmmaker Florian Opitz talks to the architects of the new economic world order, as well as to ordinary people who have to deal with the real direct effects. The result is a tapestry of narratives the world over that show where the dogma of privatisation cames from, who profits from it, what societies lose, and why resistance is so important.
The Biotech Revolution is largely an exploration by scientists working in genetics and biotechnology that repeatedly promise “unprecedented health benefits and longevity for all,” amongst other things, to rationalise their work in the so-called “biotechnology revolution.” But in reality, isn’t this “revolution” simply just more of the same control imperative of science and this culture’s technology, essentially ending in the prospect of a monoculture of genetically modified people? Will such control foster into globalisation a history of inclusion and harmony? Or, will we simply end up in an extension of the current order, albeit one that is further divided, this time by genetic apartheid?
1966, United States. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to overthrow the corrupt systems of power waging the invasion of Vietnam, amongst the struggle for equality and civil rights at home. Beginning with armed citizens’ patrols to keep police accountable and challenge police brutality in Oakland California, The Black Panther Party put itself at the vanguard for social change, expanding in 1969 to community social programs, including free breakfast for school kids and community health clinics. This lead the FBI to call the movement “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” and start an extensive government program called COINTELPRO to surveil, infiltrate, perjure, harass, discredit, destabilise and disintegrate the movement. This film chronicles the story arc of the Black Panthers successes and failures, through the voices of the people who were actually there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and the Black Panthers themselves.
Using collated footage discovered in the cellar of Swedish Television some 30 years later after recording, The Black Power Mixtape is a film that examines the evolution of the Black Power movement in the United States from 1967 to 1975. Commentaries and interviews carry the film, from leading contemporary African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars which is divided into 9 sections based chronologically on each successive year between 1967 and 1975. The film focuses on several topics and subjects relevant to the Black Power Movement including Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, the Black Panther Party, COINTELPRO, and the War on Drugs.
The Blue Planet is a comprehensive series of films about the natural history of the world’s oceans. Each film in the series examines a different aspect of marine life—from the Arctic and Antarctica, to the depths of wide open oceans and coral reefs, to the coastlines and tides of the Galápagos Islands, Russia, Australia, Argentina and elsewhere.
The Brain — A Secret History is a series about how various theories and experiments on the human mind over decades have led to profound insights into how the human brain works, but also have involved great cruelty and pose terrible ethical dilemmas. Historical experiments such as severe maternal deprivation, brainwashing and other experiments in mind control such as MKULTRA are covered, along with physical interventions such as the history of electric shock ‘treatment’, behaviour modification, experimental psychology, and the Milgram experiment.
The Bro Code unpacks and takes aim at the forces of masculinity that condition boys and men to fundamentally dehumanise and disrespect women. The film breaks down a range of contemporary media forms that are saturated with sexism—movies and music videos that glamorise misogyny, pornography that trades in the brutalisation and commodification of women, comedy routines that make light of sexual assault, and a slate of men’s magazines and TV shows that propagate myths of what it means to be a man in this culture: that it’s not only normal, but “cool” for boys and men to control and humiliate women. There’s nothing natural or inevitable about this mentality. And it’s extremely harmful in the real world. By setting the myths against reality, The Bro Code challenges young people to step up and fight back against this culture, to reject the fundamental idea that being a ‘real man’ means disrespecting women.
Brussels, the capital and largest city of Belgium, has a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter; while the Union itself claims it has no capital and no plans to declare one—despite the fact that Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament. In any event, it is here—in this centre of smoke and mirrors—that exists one of the largest concentrations of lobbyist power in the world. The Brussels Business scratches the surface of this extensive world hidden-from-view by looking at the direct influence of lobbyists and the complete lack of transparency in the decision-making processes. Speaking with lobbyists and activists themselves, The Brussels Business reveals the beginnings of a vast landscape of PR conglomerates, front companies, think-tanks and their closely-interlinking networks of power and ties to political and economic elites. The questions then become: Who actually runs the European Union? How? And why?
The ‘MeToo’ movement has brought the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and harassment in this culture to the mainstream, creating an unprecedented demand for sexual violence prevention models that actually work. The Bystander Moment tells the story of one of the most prominent and proven of these models developed by activist and writer Jackson Katz and his colleagues. Illustrated through archival footage and clips from news, sports, and entertainment media, Katz explores the role of bystanders—especially friends, teammates, classmates, and co-workers—in perpetuating sexual harassment and sexual assault. Katz also gives attention to peer culture dynamics—in particular the male peer culture dynamics across race and ethnicity—that help normalise sexism and misogyny while silencing other men in the face of abuse. The Bystander Moment qualifies the crucial importance of appealing to people not as potential perpetrators or passive spectators, but as active bystanders and allies who have a positive role to play in challenging and changing sexist cultural norms, to stopping abuse and violence.
To many in both business and government, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power is truly moved into the hands of the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How is the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interest?
The Chicago Conspiracy reviews the legacy of the military dictatorship in Chile by sharing the story of combatant youth who were killed by the Pinochet regime as a backdrop to the history of the military dictatorship and current social conflict. The larger history is wrapped around three shorter pieces, which explore the student movement, the history of neighbourhoods that became centres of armed resistance against the dictatorship, and the story of the indigenous Mapuche…
The Chicago Sessions explores the ethical implications of the financial crisis during three sessions with a group of law and philosophy students. The grounds of the University of Chicago provide a compelling arena, since it is here that both economist Milton Friedman—staunch promoter of free market capitalism—and Barack Obama, lectured. Examples of crisis related issues discussed during the sessions are: mortgage lending practices, foreclosures, bail outs and CEO pay. The students will test their ideas both on eminent professors and on field experts. The discussion is fueled and illustrated by case stories that the students themselves provide. The cases show how the financial crisis really affects the people of Chicago and in one example shows the consequences of the foreclosures in a neighborhood not far from the university and Barack Obama’s home.
How do online giants such as Facebook and Google deal with problematic content posted to their platforms every minute? They outsource the act of “digital cleaning” to teams of people paid a pittance in countries such as the Philippines, to act as content moderators. It’s these hidden low-paid workers, in giant click farms, that spend long shifts removing posts and deleting accounts. So how do their decisions influence what the billions of people using social media all around the world see and think? What are the policies they are told to enforce? Are the cleaners part of the online world of clever hoaxes and fake news, or are they on the frontline of social media spectacle and furor?
In the 1970s, acid rain and other ecological concerns were at the fore and it was at this time that climate change first became a pressing political issue. But the concern wasn’t global warming — it was the threat of a new ice age. So how did the scientific community manage to get it so very wrong? Uncovered 30 years later, the secret government organisation known as “Jason”, produces the first official report on global warming in 1979. Fast forward to the mid 1980s and global warming had already become a serious political issue. However, it is not until the 1990s that the issue turns out to become one of the biggest scientific controversies of the age…
Coca Cola is one of the most visible brands in the world, but there’s one part of the operations the corporation doesn’t want you to see. Colombia is the trade-union-murder-capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers’ leaders have been brutally killed, usually by paramilitaries hired by private companies intent on crushing the unions. Amongst the top unscrupulous corporate brands is Coca Cola…
The Coconut Revolution documents the struggle of the indigenous peoples in the Bougainville Island. The movement is described as the world’s first successful eco-revolution, in that the successful uprising of the indigenous peoples of Bougainville Island against the Papua New Guinea army stopped the mining plans of the RTZ company to exploit their land for resources…
Arguing that advertising not only sells things, but also ideas about the world, The Codes of Gender examines the commercial culture’s inability to let go of reactionary gender representations. Presenter Sut Jhally’s starting point is the breakthrough work of the late sociologist Erving Goffman, whose 1959 book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life prefigured the growing field of performance studies. Jhally applies Goffman’s analysis of the body in print advertising to hundreds of print ads today, uncovering an astonishing pattern of regressive and destructive gender codes. By looking beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells products, and beyond analyses of gender that tend to focus on either biology or objectification, The Codes of Gender offers important insights into the social construction of masculinity and femininity, the relationship between gender and power, and the everyday performance of cultural norms.
The Coming War on China is a warning that nuclear war is not only imaginable, but a ‘contingency,’ says the Pentagon. The greatest build-up of NATO military forces since the Second World War is under way on the western borders of Russia, and some 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. But these happenings are of course not reported as United States antagonism. Instead, there is a familiar drumbeat of war, the kind of the old “yellow peril,” a restoration of the psychology of fear that embedded public consciousness for most of the 20th century. The aim of this film is to break the silence, and as the centenaries of the First World War presently remind us, horrific conflict can begin all too easily. By recounting the secret and forgotten history of the rapacious actions of great power against China throughout the decades, such as the destruction of the Marshall Islands and the Opium wars, The Coming War on China is also a report of an inspiring popular resistance to nuclear weapons, military bases and warmongering of the United States, of which little is known in the West.
Did you know that the legal system recognises a corporation as a person? What kind of ‘person’ is it then? What would happen if it sat down with a psychologist to discuss its behaviour and attitude towards society and the environment? Explored through specific examples, this film shows how and why the modern-day corporation has rapaciously pressed itself into the dominant institution of our time, posing big questions about what must be done if we want a equitable and sustainable world. What must we do when corporations are psychopaths?
The Cove analyses and questions Japan’s dolphin hunting culture, being a call to action to halt mass dolphin kills, to change commercial fishing practices and to inform and educate the public about the risks and ever increasing hazard of mercury poisoning from dolphin meat. Told from ocean conservationist Richard O’Barry’s point of view, The Cove documents a group of Taiji fishermen who engage in mass dolphin kills, which in large part, are motivated by the tremendous revenue generated for the town by selling some of the captured dolphins to aquariums and marine parks. The dolphins that are not sold into captivity are then slaughtered in the cove and the meat is sold in supermarkets…
The Crisis of Civilization draws on archive footage and essentially monologue by author Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed to detail how global problems like environmental collapse, financial crisis, peak energy, terrorism and food shortages are all symptoms of a single, failed global system…
Through exploring deep questions about the way mainstream media is organised and perpetuated in concert with technological development, media expert George Gerbner delivers a solid indictment of the way the so-called “information superhighway” is now being constructed. Following on from his solid work looking at the impacts of television on society, Gerbner turns to examining emerging technologies like V-chip and the way they interface with globalisation. This film urges the viewer to struggle for democratic principles in this emerging technoculture.
Kevin Warwick is a renowned researcher in the precarious field of cybernetics, the study of ‘artificial intelligence,’ human-control functions, robotics and so-called “cybernetic organisms.” His work, as self presented here, shows how implant and electrode technology can be used to control human brain functions, to create biological brains for robots, to enable so-called “human enhancement” and treatment for neurological illnesses. The end goal is transcending human “limitations” or transhumanism, according to Warwick, which inevitably stirs up many social, ethical and practical questions. What are the implications of this work, and this world view?
The Dark Side Of Chocolate follows a team of investigative reporters into Africa where human trafficking and child labour fuel the chocolate industry worldwide. The film travels to Mali where hidden footage reveals the trafficking of small children to the cocoa fields in the neighbouring Ivory Coast and elsewhere. What is happening behind the sweet imagery of the chocolate industry?
The Devil We Know investigates the toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid—PFOA/PFA, also known as C8—the key ingredient found in non-stick cookware, stain resistant furniture and carpets, wrinkle free and water repellent clothing, cosmetics, lubricants, paint, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and many other everyday products. The film centres on Parkersburg, West Virginia, in the United States, at the DuPont facility that manufactured Teflon, and dumped at least 1.7 million pounds of PFOA into rivers and streams between 1951 and 2003, knowing that it was a carcinogen. The film follows the personal stories of several people who worked at the facility that experienced cancers and birth defects, and also reveals the detection of PFOA in the blood of more than 98% of the general US population in the low and sub-parts per billion (ppb) range, with levels much higher in chemical plant employees and surrounding subpopulations.
The Digital Dump — Exposing The Electronics Waste Trade travels to Lagos, Nigeria with the Executive Director of a global environmental organisation called BAN based in Seattle. The film is recorded over the course of 10 hectic days, during the week that Hurricane Katrina hit, documenting the reality of an escalating global trade in toxic, obsolete, discarded computers and other e-waste collected in North America and Europe. The waste is sent to countries like Nigeria by waste brokers and so-called recyclers. In Lagos, while there is some ability to repair and refurbish old electronic equipment, local experts explain that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos each month, as much as 75% of the imports are simply junk and are not economically repairable or marketable. Consequently, this e-waste is being discarded and routinely burned, despite the legal status of it as being hazardous materials.
Britain’s National Health Service, the NHS, was the world’s first universal public health service, created out of the ideal that healthcare should be available to everyone, regardless of wealth. Designed to give millions of people “freedom from fear” following the Second World War, the NHS today is under threat of being sold-off and converted to a free-market model, inspired by the private health insurance system in the United States, which results in the deaths of an estimated 45,000 people every year. President Trump says the NHS is “on the table” in any future trade deal with America. Filmed in Britain and the United States, this timely documentary reveals what may be the last battle to preserve the most fundamental human right: health. Veteran filmmaker John Pilger takes us through a history of threats to Britain’s National Health Service, from its founding in 1948, through a push for privatisation during the 1980s, to challenges by the new politics of today and the drive for corporate take-over.
Through a series of portraits that reach across different class, ethnic and generational experiences, The Double Burden speaks to the diversity of pains and pleasures of working motherhood. What is it like to grow up in a family where mothers have always worked outside the home? Through the lives of three families—one Mexican-American, one Polish-American, and one African-American—each with three generations of women who worked outside the home while also raising families, this film aims to instil tremendous respect for the accomplishments of women and for women of different races, social classes and life-styles through the generations, against social odds, pressures and expectations.
The Dust Bowl is a four part series that chronicles the worst human-induced environmental disaster in history. A frenzied wheat boom, followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, destroyed much of the American and Canadian prairies through wind erosion. Blizzards killed agricultural crops and animals, threatened many other lives and forced thousands of people to pack up and move somewhere else. The series shows vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors from the dust storms, combined with dramatic photographs and footage from the era, recounting the stories of incredible human suffering at the hands of industrial agriculture—a linear system that destroys top-soil and exploits the land for quick surplus. The series also reveals a morality tale about how this culture exploits the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.
While corporations and governments continue to disseminate globalisation and the rapacious drive for consolidation of corporate power, people around the world are pushing back to reinstate local communities. Groups are coming together to rebuild human scale, local and ecological economies based on a new paradigm of localisation and sustainability. The Economics Of Happiness documents these shifts and shows how these communities have reclaimed their autonomy…
Television has colonised human storytelling—not only has creating and passing on culture been usurped by television and corporate media, today dominant culture is television and corporate media. The Electronic Storyteller outlines these changes and shows the cumulative impacts that television and mass media has on the way we think about ourselves and how we construct views of the world around us. With a focus on the stories of gender, class, and race, The Electronic Storyteller delivers an analytical framework to understand the pervasive forces behind what is at stake in the new world of saturated media and controlled imagery…
The Empathy Gap investigates how dominant culture bombards young men with sexist and misogynistic messages and argues that these messages not only devalue women but also undercut men’s innate capacity for caring and empathy. The film looks closely at the ways these messages short-circuit men’s ability to empathize with women, respect them as equals, and take feminism seriously, drawing parallels between sexism and racism, spelling out how each is rooted in cultural norms that discourage empathy, and shows how men who break with these norms live happier and healthier lives.
Located in Western Africa, Sierra Leone is a nation caught in a struggle between extreme poverty and extreme wealth. While diamond mining provides the bulk of the country’s income, most of its people struggle to survive by raising their own crops. In 1991, a rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front formed to take on government and corporate interests in a bid for a more just economy and an end to hunger. At first, the RUF was popular with Sierra Leoneans, many of whom resented the elite seen as corrupt and looked forward to the promises of free education, health care and equitable sharing of diamond revenues. However, as civil broke out, the RUF was brutal and developed a reputation internationally for its terrible cruelty towards civilians, and its widespread use of child soldiers. What ensued was bloody mayhem. Around 70,000 people lost their lives in the nearly 15 years of fighting, while millions lost their homes and many thousands were maimed. The Empire In Africa tells the story behind the brutality, and shines a light on the terrible bloodshed, with the view that future horrors may then end.
The End of Poverty? traces the growth of global poverty back to colonisation in the 15th century to reveal why it’s not an accident or simple bad luck that there is a growing underclass around the world. Featuring interviews with a number of economists, sociologists, and historians, the film details how poverty is the clear consequence of free-market economic policy which has allowed powerful nations to exploit poorer ones for their assets, turning the money back to the hands of the concentrated few. This also follows on to how wealthy nations—especially the United States—thereby exert massive debts, seize a much disproportionate exploit of the natural world, and how this deep imbalance has dire consequences on the environment and on people…
The suburbs are an unsustainable way of living. Developed in the post-war era of cheap oil and the car, the lifestyle was spruiked as the ‘escape’ from the industrial city to a more pastoral and rural way of life. However, they quickly evolved into a place that had neither of these qualities. Now, part of the problem of getting out of the suburban mentality is that a generation has grown up believing it to be a ‘normal way of life’ and even a life of entitlement, something which they will not give up without a fight…