Following the publication of Nature‘s article acknowledging the greatest discovery in Egypt’s Khufu pyramid for more than 1,000 years, Secrets of the Dead: Scanning the Pyramids (PBS Distribution) unveils the adventure behind this revelation in this new documentary. The only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing, the Great Pyramid of Khufu has fascinated people for centuries. Tracing the origin of the legends of secret chambers hidden in the heart of the pyramid, the program shows what lies within, solving a 4,500-year-old mystery, by following the first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids of Egypt.
Passionate about ancient history, the global team of Scan Pyramids consists of particle physicists, experts in innovation and 3D technologies, and engineers in thermal imaging from Egypt, France, Japan and Canada. For more than two years, they explored every corner of the pyramid, using non-invasive technologies including infrared cameras, 3D scanners and cosmological particle detectors located inside and outside the monument. Their search detected unknown cavities in the Great Pyramid of Khufu for the first time since the Middle Ages. Viewers are able to witness Scan Pyramid’s adventures and successes in this extraordinary scientific and historical journey through time and space that led to this historic discovery.
Meet Sudan, the last male of his sub-species, the Northern White Rhinoceros. NATURE: The Last Rhino (PBS Distribution) tells his harrowing journey through the international cast of characters who have been involved in Sudan’s life, from when he was snatched as a calf from his mother’s side in war-torn Central Africa, to his captivity as a prized exhibit in a cold, concrete zoo behind the Iron Curtain while poaching devastated his kind to extinction back home.
Now at 43 years old and half-blind, Sudan is living out his days under 24-hour armed guard, on a protective sanctuary in Kenya. As his kind nears its last hour, scientists and animal experts turn to technology in a race to save the Northern White Rhino before it dies out forever.
It’s a series that remains unforgotten. Yes, it’s that good.
PBS Distribution will be releasing the first two seasons of Masterpiece Mystery!: Unforgotten on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Two stone-cold cases of murder test the wits of crime-solving duo Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan, played by Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar in two seasons of the critically acclaimed UK crime series.
Save the dates: Unforgotten Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray April 24; Unforgotten Season will be available on DVD and Blu-rayMay 15. Both programs will also be available for digital download.
The Telegraph (London) called Unforgotten’s opening episodes “the gateway to a labyrinth of absorbingly interconnected lives,” adding that Walker and Bhaskar portray “two of the most credibly ordinary cops currently on the TV beat.”
The Australian (Sydney) singled out screenwriter Chris Lang as “a cunning master of parallel plotting. Compelling stuff.” And The Independent (London) lauded the remarkable supporting cast of “unforgotten and unforgettable actors.”
Joining Walker and Bhaskar is Peter Egan, who appears in both seasons as Cassie’s father and Tom Courtenay, who won a best supporting actor BAFTA for his role in the series. Also appearing in Season 1 are Gemma Jones, Trevor Eve, Cherie Lunghi, Bernard Hill, Hannah Gordon and Ruth Sheen.
Guest stars in Season 2 include Badria Timimi, Mark Bonnar, Lorraine Ashbourne and Rosie Cavaliero.
Season 1 opens with a human skeleton found beneath a basement. The remains could be centuries old—or four decades, as comes to light upon further investigation of the crime scene. Cassie and Sunny eventually discover the victim was a young man, Jimmy Sullivan and his nearly-disintegrated pocket diary leads the detectives to a list of names that may hold the key to solving the murder.
The list of names includes Sir Phillip Cross (Eve), a mobster who bribed his way into the aristocracy; Father Robert Greaves (Hill), a beloved vicar with a dark secret; Lizzie Wilton (Sheen), a reformed skinhead; and Eric Slater (Courtenay), an elderly, disabled bookkeeper taking care of his wife, Claire (Jones) who is suffering from dementia. They all lead very different lives, but something links them, something that explains Jimmy’s final resting place and the torture marks found on his bones.
Season 2 starts innocently enough with a routine river dredging operation. When the scoop brings up a soggy, old suitcase, the workers open it and find a corpse sealed up so long that the tissues have turned to a soapy substance. Gruesome forensic work identifies the victim as David Walker, a businessman missing for twenty-five years.
Cassie and Sunny locate Walker’s wife, Tessa Nixon (Ashbourne), now remarried. A hard-bitten DI herself, Tessa reminds her fellow police officers that “sixty-three percent of all murder victims are killed by their partners.”
“You’ll be thinking that, won’t you?” she says. “I would be.”
But Cassie and Sunny have other suspects to consider. A pager found with Walker’s remains leads them to Sara Mahmoud (Timimi), a Muslim teacher who wishes she’d never heard of David Walker. Other clues connect Walker with Colin Osborne (Bonnar), a gay attorney in the process of adopting a young girl with his partner; and Marion Kelsey (Cavaliero), a harried nurse in a children’s cancer ward.
The puzzle pieces won’t fit together—until, as The Telegraph admiringly notes, Cassie has an inspiration that climaxes in “the perfect ending.”
PBS Distribution continues to make news with four special, must-see programs that will be available on DVD in April.
The New York Cantors (available April 10 ) Three young cantors, all rising stars in the world’s Jewish music scene, are brought together in Amsterdam’s revered 17th century Portuguese Synagogue for a concert of Jewish sacred and secular music arranged for orchestra and choir. The New York Cantors are comprised of Brooklyn-born Yaakov (Yanky) Lemmer, cantor of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City; Azi Schwartz, a native of Israel and cantor at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue; and Netanel Hershtik, cantor at The Hampton Synagogue, Westhampton Beach, New York, also Israeli-born.
Understanding the Opioid Epidemic (available April 10)
Through personal stories and interviews with experts, this program reveals the tragic impact of the overuse of prescription painkillers on individuals, families and communities. They are stories that often begin with medical treatment for moderate to severe pain that evolve into drug addiction and death. In addition to the personal stories of those impacted by the opioid crisis, the documentary explores the dramatic increase in the use and acceptance of prescription painkillers.
Impossible Builds, Volume 1 (available April 24) This is an “access all areas” look at the creation of some of the world’s most ambitious, complex, and technologically advanced construction projects. From subaquatic homes and the ultimate in billionaire luxury, to futuristic towers and pencil thin skyscrapers – these are the structures they said could never be built.
But now, using revolutionary technology and cutting-edge construction materials, three previously impossible builds are taking shape across the world. And the program is on site to follow their progress every step of the way.
Survival Guide for Pain-Free Living with Peggy Cappy (available April 24) Anyone who has lived with pain knows how physically and emotionally debilitating it can be. This is why Peggy’s most popular programs have addressed how yoga can be used to alleviate pain and cope with various challenges from arthritis to back pain.
In this show, Peggy and Lee, a neuromuscular therapist, offer effective strategies for dealing with pain day-by-day and highlight stories of those who once suffered pain but are now living pain-free.
Sometimes we are please to tell you about NOVA programs that are, well, out of space. Witness:
NOVA: Black Hole Apocalypse (PBS Distribution, releasing April 3)
Black holes are the most enigmatic, mysterious, and exotic objects in the universe. In Black Hole Apocalypse, NOVA investigates recent surprising discoveries about black holes that have raised deep questions and brought astrophysicsto a major crossroads. Guided by astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin, viewers journey to the weirdest places in the cosmos to explore the profound mysteries of these gravitational monsters.
Where do they come from? What’s inside them? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity? Through dynamic CGI animation, Levin illustrates the principles of gravity, and even takes a trip to the edge of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. What will happen if she gets too close?
NOVA: The Impossible Flight (PBS Distribution, releasing April 10) It is one of the greatest aviation undertakings of our time: a 26,000-mile perilous journey to circle the globe in a plane that doesn’t use a single drop of fuel. The launch of the Solar Impulse II in March 2015 is the culmination of a 13-year bold endeavor to push the boundaries of human flight and demonstrate the potential for renewable energy.
In this program, NOVA embarks on an ambitious quest with two intrepid pilots and a team of brilliant engineers, meteorologists, and flight controllers as they design, construct, and fly around the world in the first zero-fuel, solar-powered airplane.
Reflecting NOVA’s unparalleled 44-year-old commitment to long-form science programming, this installment examines the latest evidence surrounding one of the greatest mysteries in Earth’s history–the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs. Through interviews, footage of scientists working at sites around the world and stunning digital recreations of events from 66 million years ago, NOVA: The Day the Dinosaurs Died vividly brings to life the compelling scientific inquiry around this epic catastrophe.
PBS Distribution releases the program on DVD March 20. It is also available for digital download.
At the end of the Cretaceous Era, after 170 million years of dominance, more than 700 species of dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record virtually overnight. In the 1980s, the hypothesis emerged that an asteroid impact was the catalyst. But the supporting evidence, including the exact nature of the global chain reaction an asteroid impact may have initiated, has been slowly emerging over decades. The Day the Dinosaurs Died details the efforts of scientists to flesh out what happened in the days and weeks after the asteroid impact. Will they find the smoking gun that provides definitive proof?
The program visits an unprecedented, multidisciplinary scientific expedition to drill into the Chicxulub Crater site off the coast of Mexico, the leading suspect for the impact site. It also travels to South Dakota, Argentina and other sites where paleontologists hunt fossils. Finally, the program visually reconstructs the hell on earth–tidal waves, dust clouds, sudden mountain formation– that wreaked global havoc and doomed the dinosaurs.
She is one of the most important, yet least known activists of our time. Tirelessly leading the fight for racial and labor justice, Dolores Huerta evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century—and continues the fight to this day, at 87.
With unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of eleven, Dolores(PBS Distribution)chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton to her early years with the United Farm Workers, from her work with the headline-making grape boycott launched in 1965 to her role in the feminist movement of the ’70s to her continued work as a fearless activist. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, her children and more, Doloresis an intimate and inspiring portrait of a passionate champion of the oppressed and an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change. The film is released March 27.
“In the 1970s, the national grape boycott that Dolores Huerta helped organize played out in the small rural Minnesota farming community where I grew up—supported by our Catholic church along with tens of thousands of religious organizations across the country,” says Lois Vossen, Independent Lens executive producer. “More than forty years later, Dolores is still an indefatigable architect for social change on behalf of poor, underrepresented people, urging them to seek self-determination with her refrain ‘Si Se Puede’ (‘Yes We Can’).”
It was in 1955 that she would meet a likeminded colleague, CSO Executive Director César E. Chávez. The two soon discovered that they shared a common vision of organizing farm workers and in 1962 they launched the National Farm Workers Association, which would evolve into the United Farm Workers and bring national attention to the conditions faced by farm laborers.
Dolores’s lobbying and negotiating talents helped secure Aid for Dependent Families (AFDC) and disability insurance for farm workers; she was also instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted California’s farm workers the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. While the farm workers lacked financial capital, they were able to wield significant economic power through hugely successful national boycotts. As their principal legislative advocate, Dolores became one of the UFW’s most visible spokespersons.
While directing the first National Boycott of California Table Grapes out of New York, Huerta met Gloria Steinem and was introduced to the burgeoning feminist movement which rallied behind the farm workers’ cause. Having found a supportive voice with other feminists, Huerta began to challenge gender discrimination within the farm workers’ movement.
At age 58, Dolores suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then-presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. Following a lengthy recovery, she began to focus on women’s rights, traversing the country on behalf of the Feminist Majority’s “Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the Year 2000” campaign which encouraged Latinas to run for office.
Dolores continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children as founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in March of 2013 and has received numerous awards including The Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998, Ladies Home Journal’s “100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century,” and nine Honorary Doctorates from U.S. universities. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Dolores with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Black Wings (PBS Distribution) For early aviators, conquering the forces of gravity was a daunting challenge. But black aviators had an additional challenge: to conquer the forces of racism.
Meet the men and women of color who took to the skies throughout the 20th century and helped prove to a segregated nation that skin color didn’t determine skill level. From biplanes to commercial jets, and from barnstormers to war fighters, meet the path-breaking pilots who opened the skies for all.
In the firmament of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n’ roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, including “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven,”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Reelin and Rockin”.
Geffen/UMe are paying tribute to the immortal spirit of Chuck Berry with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight,with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition.
The five-disc vinyl box set housed in a textured box, complements the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP Berry Christmas, featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. A limited edition version on “Chess Blue” vinyl, limited to 500 copies.
Bob Dylan once called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” John Lennon stated, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” As Keith Richards writes in the booklet intro, “Chuck Berry is the gentleman who started it all.”
And if those testimonials aren’t convincing enough, one listen to The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition will make the case for Chuck Berry’s singular, timeless rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.
Cruel and Unusual,a profound documentarytelling the story of three men—Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, known as the Angola 3. Wrongfully convicted for murdering a prison guard in 1972 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, these men have spent longer in solitary than any other prisoners in the US. On his release, Albert Woodfox had spent 43 years in a six foot by nine foot cell for a crime he did not commit.
The film is available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.
Told in detail by interviews and prison phone calls from King, Wallace and Woodfox, Cruel and Unusual allows viewers to experience these men’s pain and anguish. From the worst of the worst in their cells, these men managed to find the best of the best that the human spirit has to offer. They have fought for justice and never accepted defeat so that no one else will ever suffer the way they did. A call to action, the film aims to support the growing campaign to end the overuse of long term solitary confinement in America’s prisons.
The rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years—yet remains largely unknown. This latest documentary from Stanley Nelson, America’s foremost film chronicler of the African American experience, is the powerful story of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs come to life.
The story is told in Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (PBS Distribution).
A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field while remaining unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.
How did Scott Pruitt go from fighting the EPA to running the agency and rolling back years of policy? The gripping documentary Frontline: War on the EPA (PBS Distribution) investigates the conservative political forces and causes, like climate change skepticism, that propelled Pruitt’s takeover of the EPA.
With access to key players on all sides of the issue, the film traces how the fossil fuel industry fought back against Obama-era regulations with the help of a “strike force” of industry-funded state attorneys general, led by Pruitt. It also explores how Pruitt, a former state senator and minor league baseball team owner, came to political prominence first in Oklahoma and then in Washington, D.C. by pledging to fight federal environmental regulations, and defend the oil and gas industries.
With Pruitt now leading the federal agency he sued 14 times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, the documentary is an inside look at the triumphant ascent of the anti-regulatory movement in America.
What is the exact human cost of war? Directed by six-time Emmy -winning filmmaker Ric Burns and executive produced by Lois Pope, VA: The Human Cost of War (PBS Distribution) takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, examining the organization’s history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans.The documentary examines the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, from its inception to the present day, exploring its successes and failures in properly caring for veterans upon their return from war, its critical role in the American healthcare system, and the need for major reform.
Tracing its troubled beginnings as the Veterans Bureau of the 1920s through to the organization’s transformation into a modern healthcare system after World War II, the film tracks the ways in which the VA has had to quickly adapt to new challenges and obstacles as it attempts to care for veterans. Beholden to the executive branch for its funding and detached logistically from the leaders who plan and execute war, the VA has had to find ways to deal with the consequences and costs of war, which are incurred long after the fighting ceases. From the psychological and physical wounds of soldiers returning from Vietnam, to the changing demographic make-up of the troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, the film investigates the Department’s successes and gross missteps as its burden continues to grow larger, more complicated, and increasingly politicized.
Told through a series of personal stories from veterans and intertwined with deep historical and political analysis from leading scholars and elected officials, the film illustrates the key ways in which the VA, and we as a society, fail our veterans, who, according to Department of Veterans Affairs research, continue to commit suicide at the harrowing rate of 20 veterans per day.
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