In the small fishing community of Thy in northern Denmark, 926 Thai women are married to Danish men. The trend started 25 years ago when a former sex worker from Pattaya married a Thy native and has since helped lonely local men and impoverished women from her village find someone to share life with. Four of these Thai-Danish couples are followed over ten years and two continents, in an epic and intimately observed family chronicle about the needs, longings and dreams that unite and separate us across global boundaries.
A film about health services worldwide
Facts of Life uses stark comparison to illustrate health inequality between countries. Highlighting the bleakness of such startling disparity, the narrator compels the audience to be a part of changing these Facts.
Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election with the backing of influential people?
In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko "Yama-san" Yamauchi's peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had suddenly chosen him as its official candidate to run for a vacant seat on the Kawasaki city council. Yama-san had zero experience in politics, no charisma, no supporters, no constituency, and no time to prepare for the impending election. The election was critical for the LDP. Adhering to the campaign tactic of "bowing to everybody, even to telephone poles," Yama-san visits local festivals, kindergarten sports events, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even bus stops to offer his hand to every one he sees. Can Yama-san win this heated race? Through its candid, cinema-verite style camerawork, this rare, detailed documentary of a Japanese election reveals the true nature of "democracy."
How much plastic is getting in to your body and affecting your health? THE WHY went to the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam to find out.
How much plastic is getting in to your body and affecting your health? THE WHY went to the Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam. There, scientists presented the first results from their research on the effects of micro and nano plastics on human health. The research is part of THE WHY new series WHY PLASTIC?, to be released in 2021. If you want to dig deeper, check out our article on plastic particles: https://www.thewhy.dk/news/the-many-dangers-of-micro-and-nano-plastic-particles-should-we-all-be-panicking
An election to class monitor begs the question; could democracy ever work in China?
Wuhan is a city in central China about the size of London, and it is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A grade 3 class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with democracy by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year-olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents. Elections in China take place only within the Communist Party, but recently millions of Chinese voted in their version of Pop Idol. The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how, if democracy came to China, it would be received. Is democracy a universal value that fits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation? Please Vote for Me is a portrait of a society and a town through a school, its children and its families
Can terrorism destroy democracy?
This documentary explores the American military's use of torture by focusing on the unsolved murder of an Afghan taxi driver who, in 2002, was taken for questioning at Bagram Force Air Base. Five days later, the man was dead. The medical examiner claimed the driver died from excessive physical abuse. Taking this case as a jumping-off point, the film examines wider claims of torture that occurred at bases like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration.
Will Bolivian president Evo Morales ever be able to deliver on his promise of a Guevara-style revolution?
Pressed by the masses who gave him a massive mandate, the first indigenous president, ex-coca leaf farmer Evo Morales has nationalised the oil industry and passed laws on agrarian reform. All the election speeches, which resulted in his landslide victory, sounded quite revolutionary, as did the iconography. But a closer look reveals that corruption, nepotism and old-fashioned populism are at the core of this movement. The landowners and the indigenous movement are still wrestling for power and neither has claimed victory yet. Ultimately, the search for the revolution that Che Guevara tried to start in Bolivia is now in Morales’ hands.
What does a day look like for dedicated women’s rights advocates, all over the world?
Every single day 39.000 girls under the age of 18 are sold of to marriage. Every single day at least two women are acid-attacked in India. On the African continent more than three million girls and women are circumcised every year. The statistics are frightening, yet things are moving in the right direction, due to the efforts of many strong advocates around the globe. State of the Women follows inspiring women during one day of their lives, providing the audience with a unique insight to their everyday lives. In the film you will meet the young Afghan rapper Sonita, the Chinese feminist activist Li Ting Ting, CEO of Save the Children; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and other inspiring and strong women.
Do you know what happens with your plastic trash?
In The Recycling Lie, we uncover the depressing truth about what happens to plastic trash once it’s been put in the recycling bin. We set up an experiment and put tiny radio transmitters inside our recycling bags. Hidden in bottles, wrapped in foil and put inside Tetra Paks, our probes go on an astonishing journey around the world. Since China banned the import of plastic trash in 2018, South East Asian countries such as the Philippines have been flooded with European plastic trash. The effects have been devastating on the environment and the health of the millions of poor dealing with plastic in makeshift, dangerous facilities. Meanwhile, the German recycling market is worth € 76 billion per year. This film is an investigative journey. We join our filmmaker and his team of international investigators while they debunk the myths surrounding recycling schemes and uncover the cynical logic behind the global waste industry. We reveal who rakes in the profits and who picks up the bill.
The greatest biological experiment in the history of mankind
30 years ago, it was still widely argued that climate change was a scam. Today, 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is to blame for the climate crisis. With plastic, history is repeating itself. Since plastic became an integral part of our lives in the 50’s, we have produced more than 8 billion tons of it. Plastic was never meant for human consumption, but has nevertheless ended up in the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe. During the same period, seamen quality has declined with 50%, while breast and testicular cancer have increased markedly. Voices are now being raised within the scientific community saying that we are part of the largest biological experiment of all time. But similarly to the early climate scientists, they have been systematically discredited by experts paid for by the petrochemical industry. With the help of prominent scientists we will try to map out the adverse health effects of our plastic lives. It looks like we are all used as guinea pigs in a gigantic biological experiment – whether we like it or not.
How do prisons make a profit from crime?
How do prisons make a profit from crime? In the last 30 years, America’s prison population has surged from 330,000 to 2.3 million inmates. In this deeply personal and provocative film, Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams sets out on a mission to investigate the prison system that has helped drive this explosive web of political, social, and economic forces that have consumed so many of Roger’s friends and family.
Can there be justice after genocide, sexual violence and slavery?
Can there be justice after genocide, sexual violence and slavery? In August 2014, an Islamic State massacre of unimaginable proportions took place during the rapid invasion of the Yazidi people in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Young Yazidi women were separated from the old and taken to the Galaxy Cinema in Mosul. There they were paraded, selected, enslaved, tortured and systematically raped. Some were only 11 years old. I was a Yazidi slave follows the Yazidi women’s journey to recovery and ask how a survivor of unthinkable sexual violence can find justice and a path to rehabilitation.
What can HRH Crown Princess Mary learn from the women she meets in Burkina Faso and Senegal?
In this film we venture with HRH Crown Princess Mary, when she visits the poverty-stricken West-African nation of Burkina Faso. Here, she joins the efforts of local women to gain the right to self-determination over their own bodies. We also revisit HRH’s visit to Senegal last year, where she was involved in the campaign against Female genital mutilation – a painful practice causing harm to millions of women in Africa and some parts of Asia. She reveals the details of her work in the struggle for women’s rights and for empowering disenfranchised women across the globe.
A film about girls' and women's family planning
Every Year, Every Hour, Every Minute makes the urgent case for widespread and safe access to contraceptive services. Access to these services is considered vital for reducing ¼ of all maternal deaths and for establishing women’s right to decide how they want to live their lives.
Big industry’s agenda: profit from plastic
In this investigative story, we will uncover the plastic industry’s cynical hunt to continue making profit on a planet ridden by environmental problems. We will meet local communities as they try to fight the plastic related problems that literally pile up around them - as well as what the industry is doing to fight any changes to “business as usual”. Due to the sensitivity of this project, we are unable to reveal more at this moment.
Is poverty raising a generation of children for sale in India?
Is poverty raising a generation of children for sale in India? In the world’s largest democracy, India, millions of vulnerable children are bought and sold, given only what they need to survive another day. Throughout Indian society the mechanisms of bonded slave labor are insidious, powerful and nearly impossible to escape for children who have become trapped in a system driven by profits. Indian director, Pankaj Johar, looks behind the overwhelming statistics - revealing how a lack of education and persistent poverty provides a breeding ground for modern slavery.
Can a good education provide an escape from poverty?
“In China, the most lucrative Industry is Education.” Wang Zhenxiang, Tutor, Hongbo Education. There is a worldwide economic crisis, but everywhere parents are told that their children may escape the worst if they are educated, and everywhere children are pressured to climb the rungs of the ladder and acquire the totem of middle class life – a university education. But does education secure what it is supposed to? Can a degree really get you out of poverty? Weijun Chen’s film, set in Wuhan in central China, looks at the realities of Chinese education through the lives of Wang Zhenxiang, a tutor at the private Hongbo Education college, Wang Pan, high school graduate and would be student, and Wan Chao, graduate job seeker who goes from one unpromising interview to another.
How can ducks help women adapt to climate change?
It Started with a Duck, highlights how something as simple as a duck can advance women’s economic empowerment. Through a seemingly unlikely means, this film unpacks how women are able to play a key role in climate change adaptation and help build resilient communities.
Why is women's political participation and leadership necessary for gender equality?
In the form of an imagined letter to her Father, a woman details how systemic gender inequality excludes women from positions of power. The letter openly asks, how women can become a part of these spaces, calling on the listener to help make this possible.
What is the impact of the early forced marriage of girls?
One Bride, Seven Cows or a Box of Heroin weaves together stories of the forced marriage of young girls from Sudan, Vietnam and Afghanistan. The striking similarity of the girls’ experiences highlight the prevalence of this practice across the world.
Does foreign aid help or hinder the eradication of poverty?
Animated short films that explain about plastic in an accessible way
The 3 one-hour WHY PLASTIC? documentary films will be accompanied by 10 short films of around 2 minutes each. These films will go further in depth into the causes, consequences and possible solutions to the problems related to plastic. The films can be used by our partners in museums, libraries and educational institutions to highlight certain aspects of the issue, but they will also be used to give the campaign a compelling online presence. Some of the themes that will be explored in the short films are the history of plastic, single-use plastic and greenwashing.
How does North Korea sell their own people to fund its dangerous regime?
Shrouded in secrecy and notoriously cash-strapped the North Korean regime has resorted to running one of the world’s largest slaving operations - exploiting the profits to fulfill their own agenda. These bonded labourers can be found in Russia, China and dozens of other countries around the world - including EU member states. Featuring undercover footage and powerful testimonials, Dollar Heroes reveals the scale and brutality of this modern slavery operation.
What role can ordinary citizens play in shaping democracy in Egypt?
In his 2005 State of the Union address President George W. Bush cites Egypt as the country that will pave the way for democracy in the Middle East. Three women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness about the meaning of democracy. They name their campaign Shayfeen.com, which means to “we are watching you.” This film follows the highs and lows of the first year of the movement in Egypt. Insisting that only the people can make change happen, their goal is to educate the Egyptian public on what it takes to build the most basic pillars of democracy: demanding basic human rights, freedom of speech and the establishment of an independent judiciary. Egypt: We are Watching You shows the role ordinary citizens can play in shaping and securing their democracy.
Can Freedom ever be more frightening than enslavement?
Can Freedom ever be more frightening than enslavement? A Woman Captured is a raw and intimate portrayal of the psychology behind enslavement. Award-winning Director Bernadett Tuza-Ritter offers an evocative study of a woman so debased and disregarded that even she has lost sight of her own life. As a close friendship develops between the captured woman (Marish) and the filmmaker, Marish’s confidence is slowly restored as she begins to imagine a different life for herself. With this new found sense of confidence, will A Woman Captured ever be able to escape the unbearable oppression to become a free woman?
An animated film about maternal and newborn health
What Ami Did Not Know is a thought-provoking look at the prevalence of maternal mortality in developing countries. From the perspective of the new-born Ami, the inequality of access to maternal care is laid bare.
Why does poverty persist in today's world of extreme wealth?
The BBC World Debate is part of a global event hosted by the BBC and 50 other broadcasters around the world. The debate explores the causes of and cures for the enduring problem of severe poverty which still affects many people in the world. The panel is made up of: Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister; Oby Ezekwesili from the Open Society Foundation in Africa and a former Nigerian government minister; Moeltesi Mbeki, South African author and Chair of SA Institute of International Affairs; and Vandana Shiva, Indian activist, environmentalist and scientist. The debate was chaired by Zeinab Badawi.
How much inequality is too much?
The documentary compares the access to opportunities of residents of Park Avenue both on the Upper East Side and in the South Bronx. It draws upon Michael Gross's book "740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building", which showed that many billionaires live in that building. It goes on to explain that billionaire heir David Koch made significant donations to Paul Ryan in the same way that banker Steven Schwartzman lobbied Charles Schumer—for their own gain. The documentary includes interviews with a doorman at 740 Park Avenue, journalist Jane Mayer, Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker, University of California, Berkeley Professor Paul Piff, and Republican advisor Bruce Bartlett
Can an employment system hide a reality of torture and humiliation?
Can an employment system hide a reality of torture and humiliation? Maid in Hell offers a glimpse into the commonplace reality of harassment, abuse, rape and 18-hour work days which migrant domestic workers across the Middle East face. Trapped by the Kafala system, their passports are confiscated and they are bound to their employer. Unable to flee, they risk harsh punishments or imprisonments if they try. “Maid in Hell” gives unprecedented access to this frightening and brutal form of modern slavery. Following employment agents who vividly describe the trade, as well as maids who struggle to find a way home after harrowing, and sometimes, deadly experiences, we come to understand the grotesque reality faced by thousands of women each day.
Can Mali's farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms?
75% of Mali's population are farmers, but rich, land-hungry nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing Mali's land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms. Many Malian peasants do not welcome these efforts, seeing them as yet another manifestation of imperialism. As Mali experiences a military coup, the developers are scared off - but can Mali's farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms?
How does access to sanitation affect women and girls around the world?
The Benefits of a Toilet uses clever animation to uncover the various benefits of something the Western World takes for granted; access to a toilet. The stark inequality of access to adequate sanitation is revealed to disproportionately affects girls and women; impeding their learning, ability to work and even their safety.
Can the first freely elected female head of state in Africa manage to rebuild a country ravaged by war?
With unprecedented access, this intimate documentary goes behind the scenes with Africa's first freely elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia. The film explores the challenges facing the new president and the extraordinary women surrounding her as they develop and implement policy to rebuild their ravaged country and prevent a descent back into civil war.
Can Ghandi's influence still be found in the modern India: the world's largest democracy?
In the early decades of the twentieth century Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent revolution or Satyagraha inspired a mass movement of millions of Indians to rise up against the British colonial state and successfully agitate for the establishment of a democratic and free India. In 007, the country is preparing to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of its existence as an independent nation. But what kind of a democracy does India have today? What does it actually mean to live in the world’s largest democracy? In road-movie style the film crew travels down the famous trail of Gandhi’s salt march, the remarkable mass campaign that galvanized ordinary Indians to join the non-violent struggle for democracy and freedom almost a century ago. Stopping at the same villages and cities, where Gandhi and his followers had raised their call for independence, the film documents the stories of ordinary citizens in India today. Although inspired by a historical event In Search of Gandhi is not a journey back in time. Instead, it is a search for the present and future of democracy in India.
How has women's sexual liberation affected gender equality?
Striving for Utopias explains how over millennia, every society on earth has suppressed women’s sexual rights and bodily freedoms. Laying bare the insidious effects of sexist laws, this film calls for the creation of a Utopia in which women’s sexual liberation is finally realised.
How have attitudes to poverty changed over the ages?
The poor may always have been with us, but attitudes towards them have changed. Beginning in the Neolithic Age Ben Lewis’ film takes us through the changing world of poverty. You go to sleep, you dream, you become poor through the ages. And when you awake, what can you say about poverty now? There are still very poor people, to be sure, but the new poverty has more to do with inequality…
How are unskilled workers being trapped and trafficked in the Middle-East?
Mary Joy Dao-Ay is a Filipino maid who used to be a domestic worker in Lebanon. She left her 3 children in the Philippines, planning to pay for their education by earning a higher salary working in the Middle-East. Instead, she was forced to flee for her own safety, and got stuck in Lebanon seeking refuge at a shelter. The secret slaves of the Middle East is the story of Mary Joys’ desperate struggle for justice, in a country with no labour laws protecting foreign domestic workers, and where the special Arab Kefala-system renders it impossible for an unskilled worker to leave the country or change their employer. It is the story of how poverty leads unprivileged women from developing countries to be deceived and trafficked into slavery.
How can microcredit schemes allow young women their 'coming of age' party they deserve?
Throughout Latin America, a girl's 15th birthday marks her coming of age and is celebrated in style. It's a celebration that many poor rural families can ill-afford - the cost of the girl's dress alone is often prohibitive. Meet Blanca, a seamstress in Uruguay, who took advantage of a micro-credit scheme to invest in a sewing machine. Today she runs a business that makes and rents out affordable dresses. Now all the girls in her village can enjoy their coming of age.
What are the implications for democracy in Pakistan when secular political parties have succumbed to the Islamic agenda?
What does it mean when the army appears to be the only force able to contain the opponents of democracy, the armed Islamists? The former President of Pakistan Musharraf agrees to explore this apparent contradiction over dinner at his official residence, the Army House. As the discussion moves in and out of the different worlds in Pakistan, a complex tapestry emerges, revealing a society unique yet universal. The filmmaker talks to diverse individuals, from labourers to intellectuals, from street vendors to religious right wing political party members, and from journalists to industrialists. What is their idea of democracy in Pakistan? What is their idea of President Musharraf’s vision of a modern Pakistan? Dinner With the President questions the role a military leader can play in guiding a state towards modern democracy.
CEO Mette Hoffmann Meyer talks about the WHY SLAVERY? campaign on BBC World News.
BBC World News is one of THE WHY Foundation's most important partners. Via their extensive broadcasting network, reaching more than 200 countries and territories, the WHY SLAVERY? films can be seen by people all over the world. CEO Mette Hoffmann Meyer was invited to "Impact" to talk about the campaign with Philippa Thomas.
What do Danish cartoons tell us about contemporary democracy?
Bloody Cartoons is a documentary about how and why drawings in a Danish provincial paper could whirl a small country into a confrontation with Muslims all over the world. He asks whether respect for Islam combined with the heated response to the cartoons is now leading us towards self-censorship. How tolerant should we be of the intolerant? And what limits should there be, if any, to freedom of speech in a democracy?
THE WHY presents WHY PLASTIC? an investigative media campaign about the causes, consequences and possible solutions to plastic pollution.
Plastic is a topic surrounded by a lot of confusion and misleading information. This documentary series will bust the myths and misinformation surrounding plastic and take a close look at what is fact and what is fiction. After researching, following the money together with financial experts, and talking to scientists, we are ready to present three cutting-edge documentary films, unlike any plastic documentaries made before. WHY PLASTIC? consists of three one-hour investigative documentary films that will be broadcasted at BBC and our 70+ broadcasting partners all over the world. They will also be made available free of charge to schools, universities, libraries, museums, and community organizations. The films will complement each other and provide a holistic overview as well as in-depth stories of plastic pollution.
Will an educaiton in solar engineering prove to be a route out of poverty for women in Jordan?
Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her four daughters in one of Jordan's poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. She is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate grandmothers from around the world are trained in 6 months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers, and provide for her daughters. Even when she returns as the first female solar engineer in the country, her real challenge will have just begun. Will she find support for her new venture? Will she be able to inspire the other women in the village to join her and change their lives? And most importantly, will she be able to re-wire the traditional minds of the Bedouin community that stand in her way?
Can life in Russia's 'village of fools' make you more patriotic?
Mikhail Morozov is a Russian patriot, good Christian and successful businessman. He owns Durakovo – the “Village of Fools” – 100 km southwest of Moscow. People come here from all over Russia to learn how to live and become true Russians. When they join the Village of Fools, the new residents abandon all their former rights and agree to obey Mikhail Morozov’s strict rules. he whole spectrum of state power – political, spiritual and administrative – gather in the village for semi-private meetings with Morozov. They discuss the future of Russia, their ambitions and their goals. For God, Tsar and Fatherland shows what drives Russian patriotism today and why they are against democracy.
A film about girls' and women's economic empowerment
What if? poses a series of hypothetical questions, which ask how the world would be different if women were treated equally to men in the world of work. The narrator speculates that closing the gendered gaps in labour participation and wages, would lead to a fairer, wealthier and more equal society.
Why is girls' access to education so important for gender equality?
One Extra Year uncovers the myriad of ways in staying one extra year in school benefits both the girls themselves and the wider society. Acknowledging the numerous barriers which inhibit girls continued learning, this film makes a powerful case for greater investment in girls education.
Is it worse to be born poor than to die poor?
130 million babies are born each year, and not one of them decides where they’ll be born or how they’ll live. In Cambodia, you’re likely to be born to a family living on less than $1/day. In Sierra Leone chances of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average. We go around the world to meet the newest generation.
How do multinational companies avoid paying tax in the developing countries where they operate?
Rüschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use. This is largely thanks to one resident - Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for the Zambians. Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. Based on original research into public documents, the film describes the tax system employed by multinational companies in Africa.
Can glitz and celebrity save the world?
Thirty years ago, rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono set out on a journey to fight poverty in Africa. They tried to convince some of the wiliest and mightiest politicians on earth to change the world. Give us the Money tracks their journey through famines and palaces, and world-wide TV-audiences. But how successful have they really been? Did they manage to make the world a better place? Bosse Lindquist's film tracks the history of this idea. "A band of musicians set out to change the world" he says "and now the time has come to ask: What did they achieve, and is celebrity politics is the right way of combating world poverty?"'