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Documentary Challenge

What is the Documentary Challenge?

Take the Media Services Streaming Doc Challenge and become a documentary boss! Watch all 100 of these fascinating documentaries online, and you can have your name immortalized at Media Services. Bring the signed streaming documentary log (located to the left) to the Library's Circulations desk to get your picture taken and put up on the Media Services Wall of Fame. All these titles (and tons more!) are available streaming online to current AU students, faculty and staff.

Reveals the psychological devastation the Chechen conflict has inflicted on children. Focuses on three rooms: a military academy near St. Petersburg; Crozny, Chechnya where families struggle to survive in barely habitable buildings; and, the nearby republic of Ingushetia where refugee camps are set up. Using minimal dialogue and evocative music, the film depicts the emotional state of children affected by war.

A Personal Journey With Maya Lin, Artist and Architect

Sculptor, architect, and designer Maya Lin catapulted to prominence when, as a senior at Yale University, she was chosen to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In this program, Bill Moyers talks with her about her upbringing and multifaceted career.

The Act of Killing

In a country where killers are celebrated as heroes, the filmmakers challenge unrepentant death squad leader Anwar Congo and his friends to dramatise their role in genocide. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to be stars in their favourite film genres - gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. This is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass - murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.


A fascinating look at one of the greatest social maladies of our time: overconsumption and materialism. Hosted by National Public Radio's Scott Simon, the program explores both the comical and sobering aspects of our consumerism and its enormous impact on families, communities and the environment. With the help of historians and archival film, Affluenza reveals the forces that have dramatically transformed us from a nation that prizes thriftiness--with strong beliefs in 'plain living and high thinking'--into the ultimate consumer society.

Afrique Je Te Plumerai

Examines how Cameroon's French colonizers have been replaced by a dictatorial indigenous regime which still plunders the land and silences the authentic expression of its people. A case study of the devastation of traditional African societies by imposed colonial cultures.


A Working Group of international scientists is deciding whether to declare a new geological epoch--the Anthropocene--a planet shaped more by mankind than nature. Its members tell the story of the Anthropocene and argue whether it's a tragedy, a comedy, or something more surreal. With archival footage, award-winning stills and interviews, Anthropocene proposes a common secular narrative for mankind but leaves viewers to decide how we should write the ending. The film has the blessing of Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen, who coined the term, and is the first feature film about the Anthropocene. It is now our turn to decide--in this decade--how the Anthropocene  will end. 

Baboon Tales

The story of the first rough and tumble year in the life of 5 olive baboon infants (Papio anubis) where becoming successful depends upon personality, rank, luck, and the help of fellow troop members. Behaviors shown include parenting, foraging, climbing rocks and trees, use of infant by adult males to defuse aggression, inter-troop fighting, mother dealing with dead infant, play, sleeping, grooming.

Battle of Chile, Part 1

Taking place during the Chilean Coup d'état in 1973, this film examines the escalation of rightist opposition following the left's unexpected victory in Congressional elections held in March, 1973. Finding that democracy would not stop Allende's socialist policies, the right-wing shifted its tactics from the polls to the streets. The film follows months of activity as a variety of increasingly violent tactics are used by the right to weaken the government and provoke a crisis.

Battle of Chile, Part 2

Taking place during the Chilean Coup d'état in 1973, this film opens with the attempted military coup of June 1973, which is put down by troops loyal to the government. It serves as a useful dry run, however, for the final showdown, that everyone now realizes is coming. The left is divided over strategy, while the right methodically lays the groundwork for the military seizure of power. The film's dramatic concluding sequence documents the coup d'etat, including Allende's last radio messages to the people of Chile, footage of the military assault on the presidential palace, and that evening's televised presentation of the new military junta.

Bedlam Behind Bars: Mental Health Problems in American Prisons

There is a crisis today in America's prison system which has little to do with crime. It contributes to the abuse and even the deaths of some prisoners at the hands of those paid to take care of them. With access to two US jails, this program finds America's prisons are now having to accommodate vast numbers of inmates with serious mental health problems. The program reveals that more than a million mentally troubled Americans are imprisoned and may be chained to beds, sprayed with pepper spray and kept in isolation indefinitely.

Berlin 1885

The story of the first international conference on Africa, which established its division amongst the European powers, and created Congo as a personal possession of the Belgian king. Both a reenactment and a documentary.

Better This World

How did two boyhood friends from Midland, Texas wind up arrested on terrorism charges at the 2008 Republican National Convention? Better This World follows the journey of David McKay and Bradley Crowder from political neophytes to accused domestic terrorists with a particular focus on the relationship they develop with a radical activist mentor in the six months leading up to their arrests. A dramatic story of idealism, loyalty, crime, and betrayal, Better This World goes to the heart of the War on Terror and its impact on civil liberties and political dissent in post-9/11 America.

Beyond Human: Living Machines

This program investigates the smart machines and robots that may one day run society and do work for humans. To explore this strange new era, the program integrates live action with extensive animation and visual effects.

Blood in the Face

Blood in the Face is a documentary film about white supremacy groups in North America. Inspired by a nonfiction book by author James Ridgeway, this documentary was largely shot in Cohoctah Township, Michigan. It focuses on a gathering of neo-Nazis, racists, and conspiracy theorists who expect people of color to ignite a Racial Holy War in the U.S.

Blood in the Mobile: Mining in the Congo

Shows the connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo's largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones.

Blue Vinyl

Skeptical of her parents' decision to "re-side" their home with vinyl siding (polyvinyl chloride or PVC), filmmaker Judith Helfand and co-director Daniel B. Gold decide to travel to America's vinyl manufacturing capital and beyond in search of the truth about polyvinyl chloride. They uncover PVC's effects on human health and the environment, and, ultimately, they find an alternative material.

Body Beautiful

Dramatizes a daughter's feelings toward her mother, and how a mastectomy has affected their relationship. Discusses women's body image, especially as it is affected by a mastectomy. Includes views of scarred and healthy breasts.

The Central Park Five

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. They spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, Ken Burns tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

Chain of Love

A documentary examining the Philippines' second largest export product-- maternal love [domestic workers]-- and how this export affects the women involved, their families in the Philippines, and families in the West. The money the expatriates earn in the West is sent home to the Philippines, where local help is hired to look after their children. This money is the Philippines' largest source of income in foreign currency.

Chasing Ice

In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth's changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well - being at risk. Chasing Ice is the story of one man's mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet.

China Blue

This documentary visits a Chinese blue-jean factory, where workers are trying to survive a harsh working environment. But when the factory owner agrees to a deal with his Western client that forces his teenage workers to work around the clock, a confrontation becomes inevitable.

Class Dismissed

Featuring interviews with media analysts and cultural historians, this documentary examines the patterns inherent in TV's disturbing depictions of working class people as either clowns or social deviants, stereotypical portrayals that reinforce the myth of meritocracy.

Classic Studies in Psychology

This program brings to life five of psychology's most significant studies: Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment, 1961; Milgram's Study of Obedience, 1963; Ainsworth's Strange Situation Experiment, 1971 and 1978; Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, 1973; and Loftus's Eyewitness Testimony Experiment, 1974. Footage from the original experiments and from contemporary reconstructions is featured throughout, along with expert commentary and analysis.

Cold Fear: Gay Life in Russia

This brutally honest film exposes what it's really like to be gay in Russia. It is thought only one per cent of gay people dare to live completely openly in Russia. This film gained unique access to the vigilante gangs that target gay men and women. In one disturbing scene anti-gay activists gather together on a Sunday and go on 'safari'. Their prey: homosexuals. The abusers are proud of what they do and fear no reprisals from the state. Gay men and women in Russia say new legislation and intolerance in Russia has led to a 'hunting season' and they are the hunted. The film contains shocking scenes yet it treats all contributors with dignity and refuses to offer a simplistic solution to complex social tensions.

Complaints of a dutiful daughter 

The film chronicles the various stages of a mother's Alzheimer's disease and the evolution of a daughter's response to the illness. The desire to cure the incurable -- to set right her mother's confusion and forgetfulness, to temper her mother's obsessiveness -- gives way to an acceptance which is finally liberating for both daughter and mother.

Dark Web: Fighting Cyber Crime

Virtually anyone with an Internet connection will be the victim of a cyber attack at some point in his or her life. It's no longer a matter of 'if,' it's a matter of 'when'. In the fight against this new legion of criminals, our only hope is to embrace the full potential of AI. It's not about man vs. machine - it's about man and machine vs. Cybercrime. This special will arm you with the information you need about the most cutting-edge ways we are fighting cybercrime.


Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century: the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now, the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution.

Ethnic Notions

Covering more than one hundred years of United States history, traces the evolution of Black American caricatures and stereotypes that have fueled anti-black prejudice. Loyal Toms, carefree Sambos, faithful Mammies, grinning Coons, savage Brutes, and wide-eyed Pickaninnies roll across the screen in cartoons, feature films, popular songs, minstrel shows, advertisements, folklore, household artifacts, even children's rhymes. These dehumanizing caricatures permeated popular culture from the 1820s to the Civil Rights period and implanted themselves deep in the American psyche.

Eyes on the Prize

Individual acts of courage inspire black Southerners to fight for their rights: Mose Wright testifies against the white men who murdered young Emmett Till, and Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

Faces of the Enemy

Award winning documentary, Faces of the enemy, looks at the universal concepts of enmity which spark and fuel conflicts around the world. Follows author and commentator Sam Keen in an investigation of the ways in which societies and governments create and use enemy images.

Family Album: AIDS in a Young Family

How does a wholesome young couple from a small farming community deal with the discovery that they are both HIV positive and about to have a baby? Add to that the fact that they already have two small children. After the birth, it took Don and Emma months to affirm that all three children were healthy and uninfected. This inspiring film shows the ground swell of support from their parents, their community and their church. While grappling with the painful prospect that they would not be around to see their children grow up, they begin to make psychological and practical preparations for their family after their death. A couple with whom they had been close agreed to be guardians of the children, and to start immediately to "co-parent." In this way, the children in both families would be comfortable with one another. As Don and Emma's strength waned, the church members took over food preparation and household chores. Family Album not only breaks down stereotypes about who is susceptible to AIDS but also shows how a community can lovingly embrace a vulnerable family.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Truth Against the World

The first installment in Ken Burns' compelling documentary on modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this program depicts the early to middle years of Wright's life and career. With the help of rarely seen archival materials and voice-over portrayals by well-known actors, viewers learn how Wright's ideas developed and how they became the center of the modernist movement in architecture.

Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask

Explores one the of most influential theorists of the anti-colonial movement, as it follows Fanon from his birth in 1925 on the French island of Martinique through his medical training in France, then to Algeria where he joined the liberation struggle.

Goin’ to Chicago

The movement of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North is one of the most momentous yet least heralded sagas of American history. This award-winning documentary tells the story of the mid-century black migration through the testimony of some Mississippi Delta natives who relocated to Chicago during this era. A steelworker, newspaper editor, blues musician, and others recall the trip up Highway 61 in search of good factory jobs, and the vibrant city-within-a-city of thriving black businesses that they found. But just as the American Dream was achieved, steel mills and stockyards closed, leaving newer immigrants trapped in decaying public housing projects and inner-city despair.

Gringo Trails

A timely documentary that raises urgent questions about how we travel and the unintended cultural and environmental consequences of tourism around the globe. Gringo Trails follows well-worn travelers' routes through Bolivia, Thailand, Mali, and Bhutan. The film reveals the complex relationships between colliding cultures, such as the host countries' need for financial security and the tourists who provide it in their quest for authentic experiences. Through the stories of both travelers and locals, the film explores the dramatic impact of travel and tourism around the world over the past 30 years, highlighting the cases of the Amazon Tuichi River and Uyuni (Bolivia), Ko Phangan (Thailand), Timbuktu (Mali) and Bhutan.

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

A look at the conceptualization of masculinity in hip-hop culture. Pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for too often perpetuating destructive, deeply conservative styles of manhood that glamorize sexism, violence, and homophobia. Includes interviews with prominent rappers, music industry executives, and social critics.

Huey Long

A documentary on the life and times of Huey Long, who became Louisiana's governor and senator. Includes interviews with people who remember Long, both favorably and not so favorably.

If a Tree Falls

On December 7, 2005, federal agents conducted a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front-an organization the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." This documentary is the remarkable story of the group's rise and fall, told through the transformation and radicalization of one of its members, Daniel McGowan. Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film interweaves a chronicle of McGowan facing life in prison with a dramatic investigation of the events that led to his involvement with the ELF. Using never-before-seen archival footage and intimate interviews-with cell members and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them-If a Tree falls asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

In Search of History: The Aztec Empire

This program explores the riveting history of the Aztec Empire, a civilization that rose to dominate nearly all of Mexico over the course of 400 years.

In Search of the Edge

Presents a comprehensive documentary complete with interviews with experts, stock footage, still photographs and animation, to prove that the earth is flat, while dismissing the "global earth" doctrine as little more than an elaborate hoax. An essential lesson in media literacy for a generation plugged into television, provoking criticial thinking skills and an awareness of devices used in documentary media, including a willingness to take things at face value.

The Intolerable Burden

Documentary film of how Mae Bertha and Matthew Carter enrolled the youngest eight of their thirteen children in the public schools of Drew, Mississippi in 1965, which were all white. The Drew school board had initiated a "freedom of choice" plan to bring the district in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but Blacks were not expected to choose all white schools.


One of Jean Rouch's classic ethnofictions, the film follows three young Songhay men from Niger--Lam Ibrahim, Illo Goudel'ize, and the legendary performer Damouré Zika--on a journey to the Gold Coast (modern day Ghana).

Jazz: A Film 

The story of jazz begins in New Orleans, 19th-century America's most cosmopolitan city. Here, in the 1890s, African-American artists created a new music out of ragtime syncopations, Caribbean rhythms, marching band instrumentation, and the soulful feeling of the blues. This program introduces the pioneers of this revolutionary art form: half-mad cornet player Buddy Bolden, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, clarinet prodigy Sidney Bechet, trumpet virtuoso Freddie Keppard, and others. Viewers learn that while the early jazz players roamed the country in the years before World War I, few people outside New Orleans had a chance to hear the new music-until 1917, when a group of white musicians from New Orleans, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, arrived in New York to make the first jazz recording. The Jazz Age was about to begin.

Jimi Plays Monterey

In 1967, Jimi Hendrix's electrifying performance at the Monterey Pop Festival launched his musical career in the States. This film showcases Hendrix's complete festival performance with archival footage of his debut in the U.K. with his new band The Jimi Hendrix Experience. John Phillips of the Mama's and Papa's narrates Jimi's rise from Jimmy James and the Blue Flames to his shocking performance at Monterey.

Killing Us Softly 4

In an update of her Killing Us Softly series, Jean Kilbourne takes another look at how advertising affects ideals of femininity. The film uses a range of new print and television advertisements to examine gender stereotypes -- images and messages that often reinforce unrealistic perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. Killing Us Softly 4 urges a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence.

King Corn

Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney are best friends and ecological activists who met at Yale and learned that their great-grandfathers were from the same small town, Greene, Iowa. Their existential shock at learning that their " ... generation was at risk of having a shorter life span than our parents, and it was because of what we ate" prompts a return to their ancestral home--a farming town of just over 1000 people--to spend a year planting and harvesting an acre of corn. In the course of playing their minuscule part in the burgeoning corn industry, they learn about government subsidies, ammonia fertilizer, massively increased yields, and how the system favors mass production over small family farms. There is also the ubiquity of corn in food, from corn-fed beef to high-fructose syrup that sweetens sodas and other products. The film is a helpful tutorial on American corn production past and present, and an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food and public health.

The Legend of Cool Disco Dan

Cool "Disco" Dan is a mascot of Washington DC. Newspapers, politicians, and the general public championed him but no one knew him or his story. This movie is a historical one that cracks the mystery of DC's most underground cult character.

Life and Debt

This documentary examines the effects of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund loans on the infrastructure Jamaica established in the wake of independence from the UK in 1962. Seven billion in debt (circa 2000), Jamaica has seen its agricultural industries laid to waste by the impossibility of competing with subsidized, multi-national American based companies. The poverty of an "average" Jamaican in a shantytown near Kingston is in stark contrast to the luxurious tropical fantasy paradise experienced by tourists in posh Montego Bay. In a dog-eat-dog global economy, the US and its multinational corporate clients have all the advantages, while Jamaica has no agriculture, no industry, and no tax base--only ever-growing debt.

Life and Times of Sara Baartman

A documentary film of the life a Khoikhoi woman who was taken from South Africa in 1810 and exhibited as a freak across Britain. The image and ideas for "The Hottentot Venus" (particularly the interest in her sexual anatomy) swept through British popular culture. A court battle waged by abolitionists to free her from her exhibitors failed. In 1814, a year before her death, she was taken to France and became the object of scientific research that formed the bedrock of European ideas about black female sexuality.

The Loving Story

On June 2, 1958, Richard Loving and his fiancee Mildred Jeter traveled from Caroline County, VA, to Washington, D.C. to be married. Later, the newlyweds were arrested, tried and convicted of the felony crime of miscegenation. Two young ACLU lawyers took on the Lovings case, fully aware of the challenges posed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor on June 12, 1967 and resulted in sixteen states being ordered to overturn their bans on interracial marriage.

Lumumba: La Mort Du Prophète

Reexamines the independence struggle in the Belgian Congo and its leader, Patrice Lumumba. This multi-award-winning film recounts Lumumba's tragic 200 day rule culminating with his assassination. Combines archival documentary footage of Lumumba with the memories of journalists who reported from the Congo. 

Les Maitres Fous

The film depicts the annual ceremony of the Hauku cult, a social and religious movement which was widespread in French colonial Africa from the 1920's to the 1950's. Participants in the ceremony mimic the elaborate military ceremonies of their colonial occupiers, but in more of a trance than true recreation.

Malls R Us

Combining nostalgia, dazzling architecture, pop culture, economics and politics, 'Malls R Us' examines North America's most popular and profitable suburban destination--the enclosed shopping center--and how for consumers they function as a communal, even ceremonial experience and, for retailers, sites where their idealism, passion, and greed merge. The film blends archival footage tracing the history of the shopping mall in America, visits to some of the world's largest and most spectacular malls--in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Poland, France, and Dubai-- and interviews with architects, mall developers, sales managers, environmentalists, labor activists and social critics, as well as commentary from mall shoppers themselves.

Man With the Movie Camera

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Manufactured Landscapes

Manufactured Landscapes is the striking new documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of 'manufactured landscapes' -quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams -Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization's materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution. With breathtaking sequences, such as the opening tracking shot through an almost endless factory, the filmmakers also extend the narratives of Burtynsky's photographs, allowing us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.


Carmen worked the graveyard shift in a Tijuana maquiladora, one of the hundreds of factories owned by transnational corporations who ship components to a free trade zone to be assembled at slave wages then sent back to the country of origin duty-free. But when the plant relocated to Asia and refused to provide severance pay, Carmen became a promotora, or grassroots activist and challenged its illegal tactics. Lourdes became a promotora when the U.S. owners of a battery- recycling factory neglected to clean up the tons of toxic waste that was causing significant health problems in her community. This program tells the story of the two promotoras and their quest to hold corporations accountable for unethical practices in Mexico's free trade zone.

Mobutu, King of Zaire

Covering the years from 1969 to 1988, Part Two shows that by 1970 Mobutu was the undisputed ruler of Zaire, controlling its riches, property, and people. Resistance was brutally repressed, as shown in footage of a University protest that ends in bloodshed. Mobutu's increasing paranoia is exemplified on an archival film of a mass execution, where 13 supposed traitors were hanged.

Monterey Pop

The Monterey Pop Festival ran for three days in June 1967. For most of the five shows, the arena was jammed to bursting with perhaps as many as 10,000 people. The live performances were spectacularly successful. Janis Joplin, who was singing with Big Brother and the Holding Company, pulled out all the stops with a raw, powerful performance that helped establish her as the preeminent female rock singer of her day. The Who climaxed a brilliant set by smashing their equipment at the conclusion of "My Generation." Jimi Hendrix (in the American debut of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) offered an awesome display of his virtuosity as a guitarist and as a showman, humping his Marshall amplifiers and then setting his Stratocaster ablaze. Another highlight was Ravi Shankar's meditative afternoon of Indian ragas. And then there was Otis Redding, the dynamic soul man who turned in what many present believed was the festival's best performance.

Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP

Civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall's triumph in the 1954 Brown volume Board of Education Supreme Court decision to desegregate America's public schools completed the final leg of an heroic journey to end legal segregation. For 20 years, during wartime and the Depression, Marshall had traveled hundreds of thousands of miles through the Jim Crow South of the United States, fighting segregation case by case, establishing precedent after precedent, all leading up to one of the most important legal decisions in American history. Along the way, he escaped the gun of a Dallas sheriff, was pursued by the Ku Klux Klan on Long Island, hid in bushes from a violent mob in Detroit, and even survived his own lynching. In this impossible environment, Thurgood Marshall won more Supreme Court cases than any lawyer in American history, and set the stage for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Marshall, who went on to become the first black Supreme Court justice in 1967, made the work of civil rights pioneers like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks possible, by laying the groundwork to end legal segregation and changing the American legal landscape.

The Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas and Bill Moyers

The struggle between heroes and villains and the influence of a higher force are the essence of mythology and resonate within all cultures, providing storytellers with a natural framework for spinning tales. In this program, George Lucas discusses his efforts to tell old myths in new ways, the role of faith in his own life, and the influence of his mentor, Joseph Campbell. Using extensive film clips from the Star Wars saga, the discussion explores how the continuing battle between the forces of light and darkness is best waged when we believe in a force greater than ourselves. Lucas says that Star Wars is ultimately about a quest for personal transformation and that key to this journey is a deep faith and an appreciation for friendship, honor, and trust.

Nanook of the North

Robert Flaherty made this wonderful film of Eskimo (Inuit) life following six years as an Arctic explorer for the Canadian Northern Railway. Flaherty seized upon the idea of structuring his movie around characters who reenacted episodes of their lives and participated in the shaping of the film. He was not trained as an anthropologist, but Flaherty wisely guides our discovery of the people and their activities, and ninety years later, Nanook of the North remains as completely engaging as it was in 1922, a huge influence on many ethnographic films that followed.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

In 1851, word spread of California's beautiful Yosemite Valley, attracting visitors who wished to exploit the land for commercial gain as well as those who wished to keep it pristine. This episode relates how a Scottish-born wanderer named John Muir made protecting this land a spiritual calling. In 1864, Congress passed an act that protects Yosemite from commercial development - the first time in history that any government put forth such an idea. Control of the land was given to California. Meanwhile, a "wonderland" of geysers, mud pots, and sulfur pits in the Wyoming territory was also protected. Since it was located in a territory, rather than a state, it became America's first national park: Yellowstone.

The Night Watchman

Night after night, Martin watches over the extravagant mausoleums of Mexico's most notorious drug lords like a guardian angel. Set in a massive, labyrinthine cemetery in the hours between dusk and dawn, Natalia Almada's haunting documentary reminds us that even today, during the turmoil of Mexico's bloodiest conflict since the revolution, ordinary life persists. El Velador is a film about violence without violence.

No Logo

Using hundreds of media examples, this documentary based on Naomi Klein's book, No Logo, describes a commercial takeover of public space, reduction of consumer choice, and replacement of real jobs with temporary work. Klein argues that the dynamics of corporate globalization impact everyone, everywhere. She also draws attention to what she sees as an emerging global democratic resistance that challenges the hegemony of brands.

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Presents the history of women's suffrage in the United States through the dramatic, often turbulent friendship of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony. Part 1 covers the years from their youth up to the establishment of the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1868. Part 2 spans the period from 1868 to the passage in 1919 of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which gave women the vote.

One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern

When presidential candidate George McGovern took on incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972, no one really expected him to win – and he didn’t. But in his bold, grassroots, seat-of-the-pants campaign, which energized young and progressive Americans to a degree never before seen, we find the genesis of today's powerful and sophisticated progressive movement. Using a wealth of amazing archival materials, interviews with provocative figures including historian Howard Zinn, and extensive interviews with McGovern himself, this “tremendously thought-provoking tribute to the one man who could have dramatically and permanently altered America’s political landscape for the better [is] essential viewing” (CBS Radio).

Our Daily Bread

A spectacular visual essay composed of epic tableaus, a haunting vision of our modern food industry, and the methods and technology utilized for mass production.

Our House

Interviews with five families from New York, Arkansas, Arizona, and New Jersey describing their experiences of living in households led by gay and lesbian parents.

Outlier: The Story of Katherine Johnson

In mathematical terms, an outlier is a data point that differs greatly from other observations. It’s an apt description for a person too, that is outside the norms. This film is a one-hour documentary about the trajectory of an African American girl-wonder, whose mathematical genius would catapult astronauts into space. Born in 1918, Johnson graduated high school at the age of 14, college at 18, and went on to a career with NASA where she broke race and gender barriers. Hired by NASA in 1953 for her mathematical prowess, Johnson was responsible for plotting the trajectories for launches and reentries. Some of her notable calculations include the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space in 1959. Johnson also verified computer calculations for John Glenn's 1962 flight. She was the first woman in NASA’s space division to author a technical report – and in all co-authored 21 technical papers. In 2015 President Barack Obama presented Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Johnson not only succeeded in a white, male-dominated field, she excelled. From America’s first attempt at manned space flights, to the Shuttle program, Johnson was an integral part of the mission. The documentary includes an interview with Johnson herself, as well as interviews with NASA’s chief historian, a curator at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, and an interview with Margot Shetterly, the author of the book, Hidden Figures. Johnson’s life was one of three profiled in the Hollywood film of the same name.

Pieces D'Identites

A Congolese king searches for his daughter in Brussels where for a time he loses his royal fetishes, his identity, but finds a friend, a local cabdriver with a secret identity. With his help and a chain of coincidence (it must be destined), Mani Kongo is reunited with his daughter and his regalia and returns to Africa with a circle of friends.

Plastic Paradise

Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet its become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined.

The Price of Aid

This video discusses U.S. donations of food for famine relief in foreign countries through a case-study in Zamibia, and the complex relationships between international aid, international media, American business and politics, and the impact on local agriculture, public health and international trade relations.


Lawmakers attempt to save Americans from the evils of alcohol.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson provides an illuminating and inspiring portrait of a seminal figure whose writings changed the course of our nation and is still highly relevant today.

Reel Bad Arabs

Throughout its history Hollywood has portrayed Arabs as buffoons or bandits. The video seeks to rectify this stereotyping by comparing it to other forms of racist imagery and by suggesting alternative narratives that treat the Arabs as human, not demons.

A Road to Mecca

The story of Leopold Weiss, a Viennese Jew who converted to Islam in the 1920's and became the Muslim scholar Muhammad Asad.

Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, A Brief History

A brief documentary on the historic Washington, DC hospital, Saint Elizabeth's.

Seasons of a Navajo

This classic anthropological study of a traditional Navajo family, the Neboyias, examines their lifestyle through the four seasons as they travel to each of their hogans-planting, sheepherding, harvesting, and weaving. The documentarist's style is natural and unobtrusive, allowing viewers to share in the Navajo world vision. Filmed in the Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and Window Rock areas of Arizona.

Selling Sickness

Documentary examines the pharmaceutical industry's marketing of antidepressants with particular emphasis on the firm GlaxoSmithKline. It explores the unhealthy relationships between society, medical science and the pharmaceutical industry as they promote miracle cures--selling not just drugs but also the latest diseases that go with them. It also looks at the growing controversy around SSRI antidepressants (especially as they affect adolescents) and follows British psychiatrist David Healy and patients' accusations that aggressive drug marketing is blurring the boundaries between medical conditions and ordinary life.

Semper Fi

After his daughter dies from a rare form of leukemia, former Marine Corps drill instructor Jerry Ensminger sets out to expose a cover-up of water contamination at Camp Lejeune and other military installations.

Sociology is a Martial Art

Documentary on influential sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who was active in the anti-globalization movement. Follows Bourdieu as he lectures, attends political rallies, travels, meets with his students, staff, and research team in Paris, and has a short conversation with Günter Grass.

Street Fight

Follows the 2002 race for Mayor of Newark, N.J. between 32-year-old Cory Booker and four-term incumbent Sharpe James. Fought in Newark's neighborhoods and housing projects, the election pits the young challenger against an old style political machine.

Style Wars

When director Tony Silver and co-producer Henry Chalfant delivered the broadcast version of their prize-winning film to PBS in 1983, the world received its first full immersion in the phenomenon that had taken over New York City. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, Style Wars documents hip hop culture, with an emphasis on graffiti, with B-boying and rapping covered as well. This film highlights the urban landscape as physically transformed by graffiti artists who invented a new visual language to express both their individuality, and the voice of their community. In Style Wars, New York's ramshackle subway system is their public playground, battleground, and spectacular artistic canvas. As MC's, DJ's, and B-boys rock the city with new sounds and new moves, we see street corner breakdance battles turn into performance art. Musicians, designers, and those interested in urban culture will love this film!


Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? This timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water. From the production of plastic, to the ocean in which so many bottles end up, this documentary follows the bottled water trail through the communities which are the unwitting chips on the corporate table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public's right to water.

This Is Nollywood

Examines the burgeoning motion picture industry in Nigeria, most of which is shot on relatively small budgets with digital cameras. Also follows the shoot of an action-adventure movie (Check Point), whose cast and crew explain the movie-making process in Nigeria. This Is Nollywood tells the story of the Nigerian film industry -- a revolution enabling Africans with few resources to tell African stories to African audiences. Despite all odds, Nigerian directors produce between 500 and 1,000 movies a year. The disks sell wildly all over the continent -- Nollywood actors have become stars from Ghana to Zambia. This Is Nollywood shows how the egalitarian promise of digital technology has found realization in one of the world's largest and poorest cities. And it shows the universal theme of people striving to fulfill their dreams.

To Tell the Truth, A History of Documentary Film

Explores the birth of the social documentary, featuring interviews with several of the people who helped define and shape the form. A detailed history of documentary filmmaking in the US and the UK from 1929 to 1941 focused on the social movements of the times, The Great Depression, The New Deal, and the awakening of the Leftwing in the UK.

Tongues Untied

Marlon Riggs' essay film gives voice to communities of black gay men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization. The film was embraced by black gay audiences for its authentic representation of style, and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression. Tongues Untied has been lauded by critics for its vision and its bold aesthetic advances, and vilified by anti-gay forces who used it to condemn government funding of the arts. It was even denounced from the floor of Congress.

Tough Guise

Looks systematically at the relationship between the images of popular culture and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the end of the 20th century. Jackson Katz argues that there is a crisis in masculinity and that some of the guises offered to men as a solution (e.g., rugged individualism, violence) come loaded with attendant dangers to women, as well as other men.

Town Bloody Hall

On the evening of April 30, 1971, a standing room only audience of local literati and feminists packed New York City's Town Hall to watch Norman Mailer, who had just written 'The Prisoner of Sex, ' grapple with a panel of passionate feminist.

Trinkets and Beads

Documents the lives of the Huaorani, a small tribe of Ecuadorian Indians who, after 20 years of pressure from foreign oil companies, agreed to allow oil-drilling on their land. Focuses on the introduction of massive environmental pollution and cultural change, and the tribe's subsequent efforts to regain control of their lives and lands.

Unfinished Spaces

In 1961, three young architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba's National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana, Cuba. Construction of their radical designs began immediately and the school's first classes soon followed. Dancers, musicians, and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution quickly became a reality, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later, the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream.

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Tells the story of the first African-American boxer to be heavyweight champion of the world and his struggle to live as a free man.

The Waiting Room

A character driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices. Includes the theatrical version and a short film including interviews with the people at the hospital, as well as outtakes.

The War / A Necessary War

After a haunting overview of the Second World War in episode 1, A Necessary War, Ken Burns takes us to back to the moment it all began. The inhabitants of four American towns recall life in their communities on the eve of the conflict. For them others finally beginning to recover from the Great Depression, the events overseas seem impossibly far away. But suddenly, their tranquil lives are shattered by the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and an utterly unprepared America is thrust into the greatest cataclysm in history. At the end of America's first year of war, more than 35,000 U.S. troops have been killed.

Empire Upon the Trails: The West

From Mexican landowners in California to Native American tribes in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this film examines various perspectives on territorial claims to the West and the history of U.S. annexation. This program explains how events, such as the Texas War of Independence, opened the door to U.S. annexation. Diary excerpts, letters, and other primary resources vividly portray the experiences of early Oregon Trail settlers and the Mormons.

Which Way Home

A feature documentary that follows unaccompanied child migrants on their journey through Mexico as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like Olga and Freddy, 9-year old Hondurans, who are trying to reach their parents in the US. Children like Jose, a 10-year old El Salvadoran, who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and Kevin, a streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach the US. As the United States continues to build a wall between itself and Mexico, this documentary shows the personal side of immigration through the eyes of children who face harrowing dangers with enormous courage and resourcefulness as they endeavor to make it to the United States.

Who Killed Vincent Chin?

This Academy-Award nominated film is a powerful statement about racism in working-class America. It relates the stark facts of Vincent Chin's brutal murder. A 27-year-old Chinese-American, Chin was celebrating his last days of bachelorhood in a Detroit bar. An argument broke out between him and Ron Ebens, a Chrysler Motors foreman. Ebens shouted ethnic insults, the fight moved outside, and before onlookers, Ebens bludgeoned Chin to death with a baseball bat.In the ensuing trial, Ebens was let off with a suspended sentence and a small fine. Outrage filled the Asian-American community to the point where they organized an unprecedented civil rights protest. His bereaved mother, brought up to be self-effacing, successfully led a nationwide crusade for a retrial.This tragic story is interwoven with the whole fabric of timely social concerns. It addresses issues such as the failure of our judicial system to value every citizen's rights equally, the collapse of the automobile industry under pressure from Japanese imports, and the souring of the American dream for the blue collar worker. Widely acclaimed by the press, Who Killed Vincent Chin? is a memorable film for all audiences.

Winter Soldier

Vietnam veterans speak about atrocities committed upon Vietnamese soldiers and civilians during their time in the U.S. armed forces in Vietnam. Through testimony given at the Winter Soldier Investigation held by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971, press conferences, and interviews with individual participants, the film graphically portrays the effect of U.S. government policy and practice, which turned soldiers into animals bent on destruction and Vietnamese into "gooks"--Non-human "targets" for murder, rape, and mutilation. The veterans struggle to come to terms with the devastation they caused so that others will not make the same mistake again.

Worlds Apart

This four part series shows how cross-cultural conflicts arise and how they can affect health decisions and outcomes. Discusses language barriers, cultural and religious beliefs, racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and reasons for non-adherence to medications.

The Yes Men Fix The World

The Yes Men again pull off one bold prank after another in an effort to raise political consciousness. Posing as top executives of giant corporations, they lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world's most outrageous pranks.