Watch trailer

WHY STORIES? is a series of thought-provoking and inspiring documentary films about the world we live in.

“All people should see these films, because you don’t know how the world is, until you have.” Mary Wilkinson, Head of BBC World News...

Based on the premise that all people everywhere have the right to free and accurate information, WHY STORIES brings critically acclaimed documentaries to communities around the world on a sliding-fee scale. To ensure we reach people in the world's most undeserved communities WHY STORIES? are donated to underfunded broadcasters and dubbed into local languages.

WHY STORIES? is a series of thought-provoking and inspiring documentary films about the world we live in.

“All people should see these films, because you don’t know how the world is, until you have.” Mary Wilkinson, Head of BBC World News...

Based on the premise that all people everywhere have the right to free and accurate information, WHY STORIES brings critically acclaimed documentaries to communities around the world on a sliding-fee scale. To ensure we reach people in the world's most undeserved communities WHY STORIES? are donated to underfunded broadcasters and dubbed into local languages.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Films and media

No films to show yet
No films to show yet
No films to show yet

Documentaries

Our preeminent documentary strand is curated annually and distributed through BBC World News and to over 70 local broadcast partners. These films are not available to watch online, but you can read more about each of the films in our series here:

Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World

Weijun Chen

2008

What does life at the world's biggest Chinese restaurant reveal about the state of modern China?

The proprietress, the bridegroom- to-be and the young waitress. Through the eyes of the staff and guests of the world’s biggest Chinese restaurant, we gain a unique picture of modern China.

Dissapeared by the IRA

Alison Millar

2013

What do you do when your mother suddenly disappears and never comes back?

The powerful story of those killed and then secretly buried by the IRA during the conflict in Northern Ireland.

First to Fall

Rachel Beth Anderson & Timothy Grucza

2013

Can two men from Russia become part of the Libyan revolution?

In 2011 two friends abandon their peace of their home country to fight in the Libyan revolution. Driven by their hatred of Muammar Gaddafi and a desire to be a part of history.

Gay in Uganda: Call me Kuchu

Malika Zouhali-Worrall & Kathrine Fairfax Wright

2012

How can LGBT people survive in a country where homosexuality is illegal?

The last year in the life of veteran activist David Kato, as he labours to repeal Uganda’s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or “kuchus”.

Innocent on Death Row

Michael Collins & Marty Syjuco

2011

Can there be justice in the Philippine judicial system?

A criminal who didn’t commit a crime. A mystery murder without a body. A look at the corrupt Philippine legal system, like a Kafkaesque story, featuring false witnesses, cover-ups and human rights violations.

Kayak Man

David Michod & Jennifer Peedom

2008

Is an attempt to make history worth your life?

Andrew McAuley sets out to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand. After a month at sea, his unshakeable need to conquer the unknown, ultimately costs him his life.

Looking for the Revolution

Rodrigo Vazquez Year

2007/2014

Will Bolivian president Evo Morales ever be able to deliver on his promise of a Guevara-style revolution?

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous President struggles to empower the poor and end systemic corruption. Comparatively Jiovana Naivis, a corrupt politician witnesses the social change from her prison cell.

Mumbai Disconnected

Camilla Nielsson & Frederik Jacobi

2009

Can plans to build a new suspension bridge ease Mumbai's llife or death traffic tensions?

In the Indian city of Mumbai, 13 people die on public transportation every day. The solution: a massive suspension bridge to be built off the coast, linking the north of the city to the south.

My Afghanistan

Nagieb Khaja

2012

What can Nagieb learn about his roots on a trip to Afghanistan?

Nagieb Khaja, a young Danish journalist of Afghani origin, travels to Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan. Assisted by 30 locals he captures a rare glimpse of everyday life in a war-torn existence.

My Childhood in Hell

Mette Korsgaard

2012

Is it possible to recover from childhood sexual abuse?

Failure, violence and sexual abuse were everyday life in Lisbeth Zornig Andersen’s upbringing. She begins an uncertain journey to uncover how these terrible events could take place.

Red Chapel

Mads Brügger

2009

Looking for a laugh in North Korea?

Comics Jacob Simon, together with Mads Brügger, who poses as their manager, gets permission to put on a vaudeville act in Pyong Yang, North Korea.

Reluctant Revolutionary

Sean McAllister

2011

What will the Yemen revolution mean for the young men in the country?

As Yemen moves toward an important turning point in the 2011 revolution, documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister follows his guide Kais, a young father who prefers to look on at the tumult from a distance.

Russia's Toughest Prison

Nick Read & Mark Franchetti

2013

What's life like for inmates in this notorious prison?

Federal Penal Colony No. 56 is situated in central Russia, in a forest larger than Germany and a seven- hour drive from the nearest city. There are 260 prisoners serving out their sentences, all of them for murder.

Soldier Woman: To see if I'm smiling

Tamar Yarom

2007

What can we learn about the Israel-Palestinian conflict from the stories of women in the IDF?

A unique look at the tense relationship between Israel and the Palestinian population, through the perspective of women drafted into Israel’s military service.

Soldier's Who Rape

Ilse van Velzen & Femke van Velzen

2009

How is rape used as a weapon of war?

In Democratic Republic of the Congo the mass rape of women by soldiers, is an accepted weapon of war. Here a number of soldiers tell their stories in an effort to acknowledge the atrocities they have committed.

The Good Son: Sexchange in Israel

Shirly Berkovitz

2013

Will Or be accepted by their community after gender reassignment surgery?

The incredible story of Or, a 22-year-old Israeli person secretly saving up for reassignment surgery in Thailand. A tale about fear, self-doubt, willpower, the importance of family and being able to be who you are.

The Journalist and the Mass Murderer

Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath

2009

Can Pol Pot's right hand man face up to the reality of the genocidal violence he inflicted?

Over a three-year period Thet Sambath talks with Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s deputy, about all phases of his political career except the years of the Khmer Rouge regime. Then he makes his first admission.

The Undocumented

Marco Williams

2012

Why are migrants going missing in the USA?

The Undocumented tells the stories of migrants who have died in the Arizona desert, and follows them on their long journey home. While others simply disappear never to be heard from again.

Bastards

Deborah Perkin

2014

How do the mothers' of illegitimate children battle social stigma in a country where sex outside of marriage is illegal?

In Morocco, as in all Muslim countries, sex outside marriage is illegal and women bear the brunt of society’s disapproval. But what is the fate of the children of those single mothers? They are denied jobs, housing and condemned to a life of discrimination. Bastards is the first film to tell this story from a mother’s point of view.

Big Men

Rachel Boynton

2013

After the discover of oil, will Ghana manage to avoid becoming the latest resource-cursed African country?

Big Men is an epic adventure of high-stakes capitalism, with shockingly intimate access to company executives, government officials and gun-toting militants. Kosmos Energy, a Dallas-based oil company, discovers Ghana’s first oil. Can they develop the field and maximize profits as everyone involved tries to gain as much as possible?

I will be Murdered

Justin Webster

2013

How can a dead man assist in the investigation of his own murder?

In May 2009, Rodrigo Rosenberg, a wealthy, charismatic lawyer went cycling near his home in Guatemala City and was murdered. What was extraordinary is that Rosenberg knew, for certain, he was about to be killed. A brilliant investigation, a journey into Rosenberg’s soul and Guatemala’s hell, that after multiple twists and turns, reached a stunning revelation.

Japan a Story of Love and Hate

Sean McAllister

2008

What does love look like in Japan after the economic crisis?

When Japan’s economy crashed in the early 1990s Naoki lost everything, ending up divorced and penniless - he was saved from homelessness by his new girlfriend, 29-year-old Yoshie who works at sleazy bar where she is paid to drink and flirt with married men. This films tell the unusual love story of survival in the world’s second richest economy.

Justice for Sale

Femke & Ilse van Velzen

2011

How does foreign aid create a system of justice for sale in Congo?

This film follows Claudine, a young and courageous human rights lawyer, in her struggle against injustice and widespread impunity in Congo. Her investigation into the case of a young soldier convicted of rape, opens her up to a world of widespread corruption seemingly instigated by foreign aid.

Last Days of the Arctic

Magnús Viðar Sigurðsson

2011

Can photographer Rax capture the unique lifestyle of his friends in the Arctic before it disappears?

This film follows RAX a world renowed photographer based in Iceland. Rax is on a mission: to document the deteriorating lifestyles of the Northern Hemisphere and bring them to the eyes of the world before it‘s too late.

Miners Shot Down

Rehad Desai

2014

Can miners on strike in South Africa achieve their aim of better wages?

In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later, the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. The documentary follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low paid workers.

No Burqa's Behind Bars

Nima Sarvestani

2013

How can the human spirit defy the confines of imprisonment?

Thakhar Prison. 40 women. 34 children. Four cells. No burqas… Their stories are deeply compelling and are a testament to the strength and dignity of the human will in the face of obscene conditions.

Rough Aunties

Kim Longinotto

2008

How does South Africa treats its most vulnerable people?

Fearless, feisty and resolute, the “Rough Aunties” are a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand to protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa.

Sepideh

Berit Madsen

2013

Will a young girl from Iran be able to defy familial and social expectations to become an Astronaut?

This documentary follows Sepideh from her evenings spent explorig the universe, to her teaming up with the world's first female space tourist Anousheh Ansari - all in pursuit of her ambition to become an astronaut.

Storm Makers

Guillaume Suon

2014

How does human trafficking tear apart communities in Cambodia?

This film intimately captures the stories of three Cambodians: two human traffickers and a victim. It highlights the consequences of the trafficking business on their individual fates and shows how their humanity ends up trapped by this invisible plague.

The English Surgeon

Geoffrey Smith

2009

What is it like to try and save a life, and failing?

When British Brain Surgeon Henry Marsh first visited the KGB Hospital in Kiev in the early 1990s, patients were dying from simple brain tumors left untreated. This documentary follows Marsh as he openly confronts the dilemmas of the doctor-patient relationship on his latest mission to the Ukraine.

The Vasectomist

Jonathan Stack

2013

Are vasectomies a viable solution to the environmental issues caused by overpopulation?

THE VASECTOMIST follows Dr Doug Stein, an urologist from small town Florida on a mission to save the planet by “spreading the gospel of vasectomy”. It is a journey through difficult and divisive issues, crossing cultural, religious and political taboos, which ultimately provokes a new conversation about over-population, over-consumption and the planet’s environmental tipping point.

The World Before Her

Nisha Pahuja

2012

How do parent's attitude's affect young women's aspirations in India?

Two young women follow completely divergent paths in the new, modernizing India-one wants to become Miss India, the other is a fierce Hindu Nationalist prepared to kill and die for her beliefs.

A Syrian Love Story

Sean McAllister

2015

Is it love for another person or love for your country which gives us the greatest sense of belonging?

Comrades and lovers Amer and Raghda met in a Syrian prison. 15 years and 4 children later, Award-winning director Sean McAllister follows the family over 5 years, as the Arab Spring sweeps the region.The film charts their incredible odyssey to political freedom, documenting their dreams and despair: for the revolution, their homeland and each other.

At Home in the World

Andreas Koefoed

2015

What impact does the Danish asylum system have on families seeking refugee status?

This Film follows 10-year-old Magomed an asylum seeker from Chechnya, as he adjusts to life in Denmark. . But his new life with new friends takes on a dark and heartbreaking turn when the decision about the family’s application for asylum comes with both good and bad news.

Coach Zoran & His African Tigers

Sam Benstead

2014

Will Coach Zoran unite South Sudan through its first ever national football team?

South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011, following al- most 50 years of civil war. This film follows veteran Serbian coach Zoran Djordjevic as he seeks to forge the first national football team in the new country.

Dancing Boys of Afghanistan

Najibullah Quraishi

2010

How is the fight against the Taliban contributing to the exploitation of young boys in Afghanistan?

In Southern Afghanistan hundreds of boys as young as 10, living in extreme poverty, are lured off the streets on the promise of a new life away from destitution, unaware their real fate is to be used for entertainment and sex.

Detropia

Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady

2012

What can the stories of people in Detroit tell us about the evolution of American identity?

An owner of a blues bar, a young blogger, an auto union rep, a group of young artists, an opera impresario and a gang of illegal “scrappers” make up an unlikely chorus that illuminates the tale of both a city and a country in a soul-searching mood, desperate for a new identity.

Gideon's Army

Dawn Porter

2013

Is it possible to reform the US criminal justice system to realize "justice for all"?

Gideon's Army follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Can these courageous lawyers revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defence and make “justice for all” a reality?

Girl Model

David Redmon & A. Sabin

2012

Is being a girl model as glamorous as it seems?

Girl Model follows two protagonists involved in this industry: Ashley, a deeply ambivalent model scout who scours the Siberian countryside looking for fresh faces to send to the Japanese market, and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a thirteen year-old plucked from the Siberian countryside and dropped into the center of Tokyo with promises of a profitable career.

God Loves Uganda

Roger Ross Williams

2013

How is the American Evangelical movement fuelling Uganda's turn towards violent homophobia?

Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. . Shocking and enlightening, touching and horrifying, God Loves Uganda will leave you questioning just how closely this brand of Christianity resembles the one you think you know.

My Escape

Firas Fayyad & Henrik Grunnet

2016

Will two young Syrian refugees be able to reunite with their families in Europe?

The moving story of two young boys as they attempt to escape the civil war in Syria. The film follows them as they desperately try to become reunited with their families in Europe.

Powerless

Deepti Kakkar & Fahad Mustafa

2013

Would you risk your life to flip a switch?

In Kanpur, India, putting oneself in harm’s way to deliver electrical power is all too common. Powerless illuminates the political power struggles taking place across Kapur through the lens of the city's electrical supply.

Putin's Forgotten Children

Hanna Polak

2015

Will 10 year old Yula be able to realize her dream to escape life on the largest garbage dump in Europe?

For 14 years, Oscar-nominated director Hanna Polak follows Yula as she grows up in the forbidden territory of Svalka, the largest garbage dump in Europe and 13 miles from the Kremlin in Putin’s Russia. A dramatic cinema story about coming of age, and maturing to the point of taking destiny into one’s own hands, Putin's Forgotten Children offers a universal message of hope, courage, and life.

Rocking Cambodia: Rise of a Pop Diva

Marc Eberle

2015

Will fame and success will change the life of Cambodia's newest Pop Diva for the better?

When an Australian musician meets a poor Cambodian woman in a Karaoke bar, their tempestuous cross-cultural romance results in the birth of The Cambodian Space Project, a thrilling musical explosion that wows audiences world- wide with sounds from the 1960s and ‘70s golden age of Cambodian rock.

Samurai and Idiots

Hyoe Yamamoto

2016

Does the collision of cultural values offer fresh insights into the 2011 Olympus Scandal?

This film explores the fallout from the Olympus Corporation scandal in 2011, when the multi-billion dollar Japanese optical company, suddenly dismissed its president and CEO. British-born Michael Woodford was dismissed 6 months into his tenure for blowing the whistle on the 1.7 billion dollar fraud that the company had been keeping secret for more than 20 years.

School Time for Miss Roma

Vesna Cudic

2015

Will young Roma women get the opportunity to pursue their life aspirations?

Every summer, a few brave Roma girls will enter a beauty pageant in the bid to be called Miss Roma. But what if their dream is not a marriage proposal, but to go to high school and get a diploma? With extraordinary access and seldom-seen intimacy, we follow three young women on their journey of high stakes and self-discovery.

Steam of Life

Joonas Berghäll

2010

How do saunas encourage men in Finland to reveal their sensitive sides?

Fat men, thin men, old men, men who dress as Santa, vagrants: all of them go to the Finnish sauna. If they don’t have a sauna nearby, they build one. Naked and sweaty, surrounded by steam, the Fins reveal their sensitive sides. In this film, personal, moving stories are interspersed with footage of the beautiful Finnish landscape.

The Road

Zhang Zanbo

2015

How can the construction of a new road alter the fabric of a remote community in China?

This documentary follows the dramatic changes that take place in Hunan, a province in central China, after the construction of a major new road is announced. As people from across the country flock here with the hope of finding work on the road, local villagers are forced to adapt.

We Were Rebels

Katharina von Schroeder & Florian Schewe

2014

How can a former child soldier recover from a childhood mared by violence?

The film tells the story of Agel, a former child soldier who returns to South Sudan to help build up his country. The film accompanies him over a period of two years – from South Sudan gaining its independence in 2011 to the renewed outbreak of civil war in December 2013.

6 DOCUMENTARY FILMS /
70+ BROADCASTERS / 700 MILLION VIEWERS / LAUNCHING OCTOBER 2018

Using the power of strong storytelling as the foundation of the campaign, six compelling and informative documentary films will uncover the lives of men, women and children living as slaves in all corners of the world. Whether it is the deeply flawed Kafala System in the Middle East or the prolific number of children bought and sold in India, the WHY SLAVERY? series will shine a light on the millions of lives lived in the shadow of enslavement.Following the unprecedented success of Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? THE WHY is creating a ground-breaking new cross-media project that asks why slavery remains so endemic in the 21st Century.We aim to create the largest ever public media campaign about modern slavery reaching an unprecedented number of people through broadcast partners, online engagement, and in public spaces like schools, libraries, museums factories, and even football stadiums.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Impact

WHY STORIES was launched in an effort to give the many tremendous, thought-provoking and touching documentary films a longer life and a broader audience. In recognition that most people – including those who cannot read and write – still watch TV, The Why set up WHY STORIES, to distribute 20 documentary films every year to public broadcasters, targeting specifically broadcasters in low and middle income countries.

Reach new audiences

An estimated 600 million people have seen our WHY STORIES series, from Palestine to India, Nicaragua to the Philippines. By creating dubbed language versions of our films we ensure they are broadly accessible to diverse audiences around the world.

Support social justice campaigns

WHY STORIES films put important human rights issues, from LGBT rights in Uganda, corruption in Congo and Indigenous rights in Peru, in the spotlight.

Strengthen public media

By donating high-quality journalism to countries without the tradition or budget for factual film-viewing WHY STORIES supports public media providers around the world; from Colombia to Mongolia.

To find out more about our impact download the individual impact reports under materials

COLLABORATION

Are you interested in becoming part of WHY STORIES?
Join us

As a Broadcaster

Show WHY STORIES? and become part of a global network of broadcasters. We operate with sliding-scale fees dependent on ability to pay. We donate WHY STORIES free of charge to most broadcasters in low and middle-income countries. 

As a Filmmaker

Tell your story to a global audience: we are constantly on the lookout for good films. If you have film you think could be part of WHY STORIES? let us know. WHY STORIES films are paid a standard license fee to cover worldwide distribution.

As a Supporter

Support us to extend access to independent factual films about the key global issues facing the world today. We work with a wide range of partners to extend access to independent factual films to audiences around the world.

Outreach

In addition to the broadcast of Why Slavery? films we are working with schools, universities, non-profit organizations and film festivals around the world to ensure the films reach a broad and diverse audience.

upcoming Events

No items found.

Want to be part of the WHY SLAVERY? campaign & put on your own event?

GET INVOLVED

Collaboration

Are you interested in taking part in the ASK WHY? FILM CLUB?
Join us

As a School

As a Student

As a Partner

Materials

ADVISORY BOARD

Broadcasters

Partners