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The Documentary


In-depth investigations and reports reveal a window on the world to help you understand what lies behind the headlines.

In-depth investigations and reports reveal a window on the world to help you understand what lies behind the headlines.
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London, United Kingdom




In-depth investigations and reports reveal a window on the world to help you understand what lies behind the headlines.




A New Church for the Red State

The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought a radical political change. But at the same time, a lesser-known group of religious reformers were busy plotting a better future for Russia’s souls – and a new, more democratic, Orthodox Church, closer to the people. Caroline Wyatt explores whether they were simply being used by the Bolsheviks, or was there a chance that the Revolution’s answer to Martin Luther could prompt a real Russian Reformation.

Duration: 00:50:36

Zanzibar: Spirits and Psychiatry

Thousands of mentally-sick patients in Zanzibar turn to profiteering exorcists for treatment, leaving the island’s only local psychiatrist struggling to cope.

Duration: 00:27:12

C-Section Brazil

Brazil is the C-section capital of the world. In a country where caesareans account for over half of all births and 88% in the private sector. BBC correspondent Julia Carneiro investigates what some call the “C-section epidemic” and examines recent government measures to counter a C-section culture which remains dangerously strong.

Duration: 00:26:58

The Red and White: Intervention

In 1918, towards the end of World War One, tens of thousands of foreign troops, Americans and British among them, were ordered to Russia in what became known as the Allied Intervention. Winston Churchill saw the foreign troops as anti-Communists, on a crusade to “strangle at birth the Bolshevik State". Lucy Ash travels to the Arctic port of Archangel to look for evidence of a conflict which took place a century ago and transformed Russia's relations with the West for decades to come.

Duration: 00:28:58

I Speak Navajo

"Growing up and not speaking the language, I felt this loss or this void," Nanobah Becker explores what "I Speak Navajo" means today. Nanobah Becker discovered that the voices of her grandfather and great-grandfather were among a collection of recordings in the ethnomusicology department, while she was studying at Columbia University. Knocking on the door that day and asking for them back began a process of cultural realisation for her whole family. Nanobah is a Navajo film maker who...

Duration: 00:50:22

Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Abuse in Indonesia

Indonesia has just conducted its first ever national survey on domestic violence. It found that 41% of women had experienced some form of domestic abuse. We hear about the work of a pioneering crisis and counselling centre offering holistic support, the first organisation of its kind in Indonesia. In Behind Closed Doors Claire Bolderson reports from three different countries: Kenya, Peru and Indonesia. The issue that unites them all is domestic violence. It’s not that the problem is unique...

Duration: 00:27:09

Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Violence in Peru

Rates of domestic violence in the Peruvian Andes are particularly high - nearly double the national average. The shocking case of violence against Arlette Contreras Bautista, was caught on hotel security cameras, led to calls for greater action against domestic violence. In August 2016, tens of thousands of people marched through the Peruvian capital, Lima to protest against the country’s shockingly high rates of violence against women. We hear how some inspiring women are working together...

Duration: 00:27:08

Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Abuse in Kenya

Unity is a village without men set up by Samburu women in response to domestic abuse. Claire Bolderson reports from three different countries: Peru, Indonesia and Kenya. The issue that unites them all is domestic violence. It is not that the problem is unique to these countries - the World Health Organisation estimates that one third of women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violence by a partner - but in each of the three countries, we hear about different and often inspiring solutions...

Duration: 00:27:09

Pakistani Media in the UK

Manveen Rana uncovers hate speech, sectarianism and support for Pakistani militant groups in some of Britain's Urdu language newspapers, radio stations and TV channels.

Duration: 00:26:28

Che Today

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. His face can still be seen all over Cuba. For the Cuban Government, he is a symbol of rebellion and revolution, an icon of socialism and sacrifice. A doctor from Argentina, Guevara fought in the Cuban revolution and became a member of the government. But he left to spread socialist revolution first in the Congo, then in Bolivia where he was executed by a soldier on 9 October 1967. Five decades after his death, how...

Duration: 00:27:34

The Silent Forest - Part Two

The Siamese Rosewood tree is now so valuable that two small pieces carried in a rucksack are worth $500. This kind of money means that armed criminal gangs up to a hundred strong have stripped the forests of Thailand bare of the Rosewood. Nearly all of it is destined for the Chinese rosewood ‘hongmu’ furniture market. And, in the north-west of Thailand, the Karen people are trying to create a 'peace park' to preserve their natural habitat. Can they stem the storm of exploitation and...

Duration: 00:50:29

The Fish that Ate Florida

As part of the BBC Life Stories season, exploring our relationship with the natural world, we travel under the sea in pursuit of a major ecological threat to Western Atlantic coasts - the Lionfish. The species, which recently spread from its natural territory in the Pacific to Atlantic waters, is aggressive, exotic and very, very hungry. How did the lionfish go from being an aquarium favourite to the scourge of an aquatic ecosystem that eats everything in its path?

Duration: 00:50:23

Africa’s Billion Pound Migrant Trail

Countries from Europe and Africa are joining forces to stop the migrant trade. Can they succeed? And at what human cost?

Duration: 00:27:18

Making the Grade

British music schools run the largest instrumental exams around the world, with well over a million candidates each year taking grades from Trinity College London and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Russell Finch follows an examiner to one of the fastest growing markets for music exams -Thailand - where he meets some of the candidates taking British music exams today. He hears their stories and finds out what they want to get out of their music learning, and why the...

Duration: 00:27:25

The Silent Forest - Part One

It is Saturday morning in Pontianak in West Kalimantan in Indonesia, at a songbird competition. In every district across Indonesia you will find these, large and small. This passion for birdsong has swept the country since it was encouraged in the 1970s, by a government keen to build a new leisure activity for Indonesians. But what was once a solitary and poetic pastime, having a songbird in your house or garden, has become an industry in which real money can be made by training a winning...

Duration: 00:50:35

Life After Life

The United States is the only country to sentence children to full life terms in prison. In many states, until recently, under-18s convicted of certain crimes were automatically locked up for life without the possibility of parole. But the US Supreme Court has now banned those mandatory sentences – and the approximately 2,000 Americans who were given them stand a chance of getting out. Elizabeth Davies travels to the United States to meet some of those given life sentences as teenagers....

Duration: 00:48:32

Panama's Vanishing Islands

Panama’s idyllic islands are threatened by a rising sea, but one community has a plan. Could their efforts provide a model for other communities?

Duration: 00:27:42

Forever Young

In 2015 Liz Parrish performed a risky experiment - on herself. She took a gene therapy entirely untested on humans in the hope of “curing” what she says is a disease: ageing. Her gamble was criticised by some in the scientific community, but she is not the only one that thinks scientific advances will help humans live longer healthier lives.

Duration: 00:27:27

My First Period

Periods are a taboo subject in many parts of the world. But for some Tanzanians, like BBC reporter Tulanana Bohela, a girl’s first period is celebrated. When she got her first period her female relatives gathered round to shower her with gifts. They sat her down and gave her life lessons on how to be a woman. One of those lessons was that she must keep her periods secret.

Duration: 00:27:11

Beats, Rhymes and Justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled Jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light. We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial.

Duration: 00:50:43

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