Now it’s public knowledge: Public Media Distribution has release some nifty DVDs that belong in everyone’s library.
Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy and summer nights. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns have caused many employers to find labor outside of U.S. borders.
Filmed over the span of six years, Farewell Ferris Wheel follows a carnival owner, a labor-recruiter and workers from a small town in Mexico who join the carnival legally on seasonal visas. The program is an honest on-the-ground portrait of the financial, emotional, and physical challenges they all face.
With insights from several internationally notable scholars of mythology and literature, Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & the Quest for Meaning engages these scholars while challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of life and the role that mythology and imagination play in determining belief.
On a dreary September evening in 1931, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friend and fellow scholar, Hugo Dyson, met for dinner in Lewis’s Magdalen College dormitory in Oxford, England. Lewis’s transformation from atheist to theist to Christian was based on the insights of Tolkien and Dyson as they engaged in deep conversation about mythology, reality, ritual, imagination, and faith. The program explores the fundamental characteristics of myth with an emphasis on how myth impacts our lives.
The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Saving Private Ryan is an intimate and behind the scenes look at the inspiration for one of the greatest war films ever made. The multi Oscar-winning “Saving Private Ryan” captures the sheer horror and brutality of combat that the men of World War II had to experience.
Known for its realism, the film was selected in 2014 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. So, was there a real Private Ryan? Uncover the real story behind this Hollywood blockbuster as the program conducts tests with weapons experts and gains insight from war historians. Viewers also hear the moving testimony of soldiers who landed at Normandy and meet the families whose tragic stories inspired the film that won five Oscars including Best Director in 1998.
Another look at wartime history: The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Platoon. The Oscar-winning anti-war film Platoon brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on filmmaker Oliver Stone’s own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. Yet how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?
To reveal the real story, the program recreates scenes, and uncovers a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie’s climax. The program also includes interviews with Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.
Even wee ones can savor the fun. Rose Cinderella thinks she is a regular teenager, but things change when she finds a magic key unlocking a world where fairy tales come to life! Rose Cinderella quite literally falls into Fairy Tale Land and discovers that Cinderella is not only her grandmother but also the headmistress of Regal Academy, a school where fairy tale families teach the next generation how to become heroes. The fun is framed in Regal Academy: Rose Cinderella in Fairy Tale Land.
The film series Pirates of the Caribbean presents the buccaneer lifestyle of pirates as a back-stabbing, high-living, hard-drinking world. It makes for an entertaining series, but is it a true depiction of the times? Enter The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean.
Historical evidence of real pirates shows that amidst the lawless merriment, pirates actually formed a highly organized society, where democracy ruled and voting and healthcare preceded England by a hundred years. The program interviews historians, weaponry experts, and one of the film’s screenwriters to show how true pirate adventures inspired the films.
The Special Air Service is the world’s most famous combat unit with the motto “Who Dares Wins”. Yet the story of how it came into existence has been, until now, a closely guarded secret. For the first time, the SAS has agreed to open up its archive and allow Ben Macintyre to reveal the true story of their formation during the darkest days of World War II.
With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founding members, SAS Rogue Warriors tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force.
An instant box office smash when it was released in 1977, the sci-fi flick Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed over 300 million dollars and was nominated for eight Oscars. Now audiences can get a glimpse into the actual events that inspired the classic film.
Few realize the film was inspired by a series of reported UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966, and witness testimonies given to a U.S. Government investigation about alien abduction are just a few events examined in The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Part of Smithsonian Channel’s original series The Real Story, this intriguing program allows viewers to separate science-based fact from science fiction.
It investigates the original cases that inspired the film–from the Michigan UFO chase to the first and most famous case of claimed alien abduction in the US, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction. Using modern technology, a re-examination of government documents puts old witness testimonies to the test.
We want our mummy! And we will get her, along with her well-preserved relatives, in Mummies Alive (Public Media Distribution, LLC). The series finds it home on DVD July 4.
Mummies Alive spans 5,000 years of history, with each of the six episodes focusing on one mummy, time travelers from the past and the most precious human link we have to our ancestors. By investigating their incredibly preserved remains and bringing them back to life through cutting-edge CGI, their stories and the secrets of past civilizations come to light.
The series kicks off with The Gunslinger Mummy, nicknamed “Sylvester”, whose preserved remains and eerily life-like face are on display in the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in downtown Seattle. According to one legend, he was an American Wild West cowboy, killed 120 years ago in a saloon shootout. He’s got what appears to be a bullet hole in his stomach, but using CT imaging technology and state-of-the-art virtual autopsy techniques, investigators piece together a new and surprising story; one involving a notorious con man, the sideshow circuit, and a lesson on how to turn a buck using the myth of the Old West. But as the color is restored to his sunken cheeks and his ancient eyes open, scientific investigation and computer animation reveal the most likely and surprising truth about Sylvester’s last moments.
Buried in a Bog: In 2003, the police were twice called to the peat fields of the Irish midlands to examine mangled corpses unearthed from their peaty graves by the claws of peat-harvesting machines. Found within three months of each other and a mere 16 miles apart, these two bodies had evidently met with extremely violent ends before being buried in the bog. Despite their incredible states of preservation it quickly became clear that they were long dead – possibly thousands of years old–and that an archaeological, rather than criminal investigation, was in order.
Ötzi the Iceman (below) was discovered frozen on a mountain glacier in the Italian Alps. This episode re-opens one of the oldest cold cases in human history by examining a Neolithic murder victim buried under ice for more than 5,000 years. Chilling events are reconstructed, and the latest forensic and scientific techniques are employed to expose Europe’s ancient, violent past. Samples taken from his stomach reveal his last meal. A copper axe found with his body may rewrite the history books, and wounds discovered on his hand and back suggest a violent death.
Another mummy, The Inca Maiden, believed to have been 14-years-old at the time of her death, was found buried near the top of a 22,000-foot volcano in South America. A CT-scan will try to solve the mystery of how she died and what she was doing at 22,000 feet. The Inca Maiden is a stunningly preserved mummy, the best-preserved mummy in the world, and today she is kept in a specially-designed cryogenic chamber at a museum in Argentina. The extreme environment guaranteed her preservation, but did it also kill her? As the secrets of a lost civilization are revealed, shocking clues point in a more sinister direction and provide an unprecedented emotional and intimate look at the tragic life and death of this young girl, below.
The Pharaoh’s Secret peels back the wrappings on a mysterious, mutilated pharaoh. Using the latest forensic techniques, investigators unearth a violent story of conquest and rebellion that laid the foundations for Ancient Egypt’s golden age.
Hero of Herculaneum: This investigation looks into a forgotten chapter from the volcanic destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Three hundred mummified skeletons were found buried in ash, including the body of a man armed to the teeth and carrying a huge cache of gold and silver. Who was he? What was his role in the disaster? How did he die? For the very first time, his story is told.
I may live in Churchill (PA), but I can’t bear the though of not visiting Churchill (Manitoba, Canada). Every fall, about 10,000 tourists from around the world descend on Manitoba, “The Polar Bear Capital of the World.” This community of about 800 people on Hudson Bay in Northern Canada is home to the annual migration of more than 1,000 hungry polar bears that pass through town as they wait for the bay ice to return.
Polar Bear Town (Public Media Distribution) documents a season in Churchill, following this extraordinary migration of human and four-legged animals as they collide in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. The Smithsonian Channel original series will be available on DVD on January 24.
The program takes viewers close to the enormous creatures known as the “Lords of the Artic.” These polar bears can grow to be 10 feet tall and more than 1,300 pounds. They are also skilled hunters that can detect the presence of seals beneath three feet of snow and ice and can pick out scents from nearly 20 miles away. Ouch!
Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild and prime viewing happens in October and November. The program captures that moment when tourists from around the world fly into town in hopes of getting up close and personal with a polar bear. Professional guides Dennis Compayre and Kelsey Eliasson have a delicate mission: To get their clients close, but keep them safe.
A look at the segments on the two disc set:
Welcome to Churchill
The town prepares for the fall migration. As the season opens, tensions are higher than usual. Last Halloween, a surprise late-night encounter with a polar bear left a local woman seriously injured and the bear dead, the nightmare all in Churchill strive to avoid. Officer Bob Windsor of Manitoba’s Department of Natural Resources, who leads a team of conservation officers, is stepping up efforts to make the town safer, even if it means increasing challenges for guides like Dennis and Kelsey. Among the bears closing in on Churchill is a Polar mom with two cubs to protect and a 1,000 pound male known as Big Bear. Churchill resident Brian Ladoon, who owns and operates the Miles 5 Dog Sanctuary, braces for bear interlopers who try to poach food from his pack of endangered Canadian Eskimo dogs.
A mother bear is leading her nine month-old cub back from his first hunting season on the ice. Now, they’ll face an even more daunting challenge: Throngs of tourists descending on Churchill, which could put the cub and themselves at risk. Veteran guide Compayre takes his apprentice, but an aggressive client might complicate her “baptism by bear.” And fellow guide Kelsey Eliasson flips the script and takes up a camera himself to assist in a groundbreaking research project that identifies bears through their unique whisker patterns.
Rumble on the Tundra
Polar bear season has reached its peak and Brian Ladoon is looking for help at his Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary. Brian can’t be in two places at once–feeding his Canadian Eskimo dogs and on the lookout for polar bears. Luckily, volunteer Russell Hausler has traveled from Australia to give Brian a hand. Meanwhile, bear guide Dennis Compayre and regular client, California photographer Andrew Bazeley, are looking for the perfect shot to complete Andrew’s book. They encounter a pair of polar bears that locals call the Scrappy Brothers, because they wrestle each other to hone their skills for mating battles to come. And a cub called Curious ventures away from its mother and finds itself on a dangerous collision course with a hungry but elderly male known as St. Pete.
Halloween Horror Story
Halloween has arrived in Polar Bear Town. It’s the worst day of the year for bears in Churchill and the busiest for conservation officers. Children are trick-or-treating and people like Erin Greene are attending parties. Last year, Erin was on her way home from a party when she was attacked by a polar bear. Erin survived the attack but is afraid that it could happen again. Erin enlists her friend; bear guide Karine Genest, to confront her fears by getting close to a polar bear for the first time since the attack. While humans are understandably fearful, the bears are even more at risk. New Mom follows her nose into a bear trap and separates herself from her cub, whose very survival may depend on Kelsey’s intervention. And a roaming Big Bear is headed directly toward the army of guards protecting town.
Winter has settled in on Churchill. It’s the time of year when conservation officers release bears from its polar bear holding facility, which the locals call “Polar Bear Jail”. A special release sees a mother polar bear and her cub airlifted out of town, to be safely released in the wilderness. Kelsey has special access for the release and follows along in a chase helicopter. But the tranquilizers that conservation officers use on bears wear off quickly and the helicopter pilots need to find a place to land before the bears wake up. Meanwhile, Compayre enlists some friends to help him find a special bear called Dancer, who he’s known for over 20 years.
Quest for Cubs
It’s spring in Churchill. While most polar bears are now hunting for seals on the frozen Hudson Bay, pregnant females have migrated south to their ancestral dens to give birth. The race is on for guides, photographers and scientists to find hidden denning sites outside of Churchill, in hopes of seeing mothers and cubs emerge. Inside one of those dens, a mother bear has spent three full months nursing her cubs. At around 20 pounds each, they’re nearly ready to leave the den and embark on the epic trek to their icy hunting grounds. And a team of biologists, including Don Moore of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, make an astonishing discovery–a maternity denning complex that a group of polar bears has used for generations.
We have praised the DVDs releases from PBS Distribution, Lionsgate and Public Media Distribution for years, and this time we offer a wide selection of some of their best releases from 2016 that make super gift choices. Educate and entertain yourself with specials, documentaries and specials that r\demand a place in your library and a place close to the “play again” button! In no particular order we offer. . .
Spillover-Zika, Ebola & Beyond takes us around the globe, where viruses are on the march: Zika, Ebola, Nipah, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile. All of these viruses reside in animals and have the potential to “spillover” and infect humans. What’s behind the rise in spillover viruses? Are the United States and the world prepared to anticipate, contain and prevent the next outbreak? The program traces the spread of viruses and reveals strategies to prevent devastating outbreaks. The program features scientists across Africa, Asia, North America and South America who are searching for ways to combat these dangerous diseases.
The program mixes stunning graphics and compelling personal stories to provide much-needed scientific context for the current Zika crisis, the devastating Ebola pandemic and recent Nipah outbreaks. Viewers encounter the new frontiers of disease detection, prevention and containment as they travel the world with virus hunters, whose mission is to identify, track and ultimately control dangerous pathogens. Interspersed throughout the documentary are in-depth interviews with a range of leading researchers, epidemiologists, doctors and public healthcare experts, who shed light on how human behaviors increase spillover events, how science is learning to anticipate and tame spillover events and how the global community must pull together to face the public health threat.
Public Media Distribution’sBlack America Since MLK: And I Still Rise, the series hosted, executive produced and written by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In the program Gates looks at the last 50 years of African American history—from Dr. King to Barack Obama, from James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” to Beyoncé’s “Formation”—charting the remarkable progress black people have made and raising hard questions about the obstacles that remain. The series begins at a point in history when the story we tell about ourselves as Americans becomes complicated. Almost every schoolchild today learns about the civil rights movement—about how our nation moved itself forward, against the will of many, out of a shameful past. Yet what has happened since? From here, the series steps out of the sanctified past and into the complex, raw, conflicted present. Today, Barack Obama sits in the White House and African Americans wield influence in every domain, from business to academia to the arts.
At the same time, black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people, and due to financial inequality white people now have 13 times the wealth of black people. Many of our schools and neighborhoods are more segregated than they were in 1965, and police killings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Baton Rouge recur with tragic frequency—inspiring radically different responses within black and white communities. How did we end up here, when half a century ago racial equality seemed imminent—even inevitable?
The program begins in 1965, in the wake of Malcolm X’s assassination and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which was followed five days later by an incendiary explosion of black rage: the Watts riots. It moves on to explore the burgeoning Black Power movement which took much of America (including many old-school black leaders) by surprise, telling stories of Stokely Carmichael, the Black Panthers and cultural icons like James Brown alongside an exploration of the cultural trends that expressed black pride—from Afros and dashikis to Soul Train. The series continues, charting a wave of new opportunities and new consciousness that would lift African Americans to undreamed-of heights—in Ivy League schools, major corporations, the Supreme Court and even the White House.
Cook’s Country Explores: All-American Recipes: Season 9 features the best regional home cooking in the country and relies on a practical, no-nonsense food approach where family-friendly recipes are scientifically re-imagined for the modern home cook. Join the experts from America’s Test Kitchen as they uncover blue-ribbon regional specialties from across the country, and classic fare in need of a makeover. And as always, find out which cookware, kitchen tools, and supermarket foods are worth the dough, and learn more about the history of American food. Cook’s Country: Season 9 also includes tips and techniques, food tastings, equipment tests and printable versions of all 31 recipes.
Our ancient human ancestors once lived as tiny bands of hunter-gatherers scattered across the vast continent of Africa. Numbering no more than a few thousand, small groups of these intrepid humans began to move out of Africa—eventually reaching every corner of the earth. How did these early humans overcome the world’s most difficult terrain and ultimately dominate the planet? How did our prehistoric forebears acquire the skills, technology and talent to thrive in every environment on earth? How did they cross the furnace of the Sahara survive frigid ice ages or manage to sail to the remotest Pacific islands? The program takes viewers on a spectacular global journey through the past, following our ancestors’ footsteps out of Africa along a trail of fresh scientific clues to help unravel the mystery of how we got where we are. Profound answers are to be found NOVA: GREAT HUMAN ODYSSEY.
Our species has the unique ability to live almost anywhere, in any climate and any terrain. NOVA crisscrosses the world to examine why and how Homo sapiens has spread everywhere—from the far corners of Africa to the Siberian Arctic to the Pacific Islands and the Americas and beyond. The program features interviews with leading historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and geneticists, opening a door to a world of fascinating new discoveries about the origins of us. With unique glimpses of today’s Kalahari hunters, Siberian reindeer herders and Polynesian navigators, NOVA unveils the amazing skills in these traditional hunter-gatherer communities that hint at how our ancestors may have survived and prospered long ago.
Throughout the program, NOVA follows anthropologist Dr. Niobe Thompson as he travels the globe, searching for echoes of the past in the skills of people living in remote and demanding environments—conditions that may be similar to the ones our ancestors had to surmount on their global journey. For decades, anthropologists have been observing such societies trying to understand their social, cultural and spiritual beliefs, and how they live their day-to-day lives—from the food they eat to the natural medicines they use.
Charlie Hebdo. Paris. Brussels. Since January of 2015, a wave of attacks by terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS has overwhelmed Europe, killing nearly 200 people and injuring hundreds more. Could those attacks have been prevented? And why does Europe remain so vulnerable to the terrorism threat? The program tells the inside story of the missteps and systemic breakdowns that allowed known terrorists to strike in the heart of Europe, the problems that persist today, and the unprecedented threat the continent now faces.
In unusually candid interviews, counter-terrorsim veterans tell ProPublica senior reporter Sebastian Rotella how the attackers escaped detection, and how European countries have failed to put in place effective intelligence sharing and border enforcement — such as procedures for tracking air travelers that became standard in the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
The program reveals stunning details of many missed chances in the run-up to the attacks. It tells the story of how previously convicted terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo were able to hatch the plot with al Qaeda in Yemen—and of the decision to end surveillance on them. It details how more than a dozen Paris and Brussels attackers shuttled across Europe and back and forth to Syria, crossing borders and fending off police repeatedly—even though most of them were wanted or on watch lists.
Neither pestilence, starvation, nor betrayal can stop Ross Poldark from fighting for justice in his native Cornwall. Aidan Turner returns as the ex-officer, class warrior, lover and mining entrepreneur, called by The New York Times “the noblest, hottest, most down-to-earth hero.”
Also back is co-star Eleanor Tomlinson, playing Demelza, the miner’s daughter who is Ross’ equal in passion, wit, and daring—which is, of course, why they marry. Catch up with the adventures in Poldark Season 2.
New this season—or thrust into prominence from last—are Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen, a flirtatious young heiress under the watchful eye of her rich uncle, Ray, played by John Nettles; Luke Norrisas earnest young doctor Dwight Enys, who only has time for his patients nd for Caroline; and Henry Garrett as Captain McNeil, Ross’ old comrade from the war, now hunting smugglers and an opportunity to woo a certain married lady.
Viewers of the first season will recall that Ross shocks his relatives and neighbors when he shows up from America, since all had presumed him dead. Then he sets about upending their lives—threatening the copper mining interests of his uncle and cousin, Charles and Francis Poldark, and the rival operation of upstart George Warleggan. He is also ensnared in a romantic web that connects him, Francis, and George to the beautiful Elizabeth. Nevertheless, Ross happily marries Demelza and they have a daughter. But in the final episode of Season 1, an epidemic takes the child away, and a shipwreck and drowning are blamed on Ross.
So at the start of Poldark Season 2, Ross stands accused of murder and “wrecking”—luring a cargo ship to the rocks for plunder. It’s a capital offense, the judge is unsympathetic, hostile witnesses have been bribed and Ross appears headed for the gallows. It’s just the first in a string of suspenseful episodes every bit as precipitous as the steep cliffs of Cornwall.
Cats are one of the most diverse and studied mammals in the world, yet only now is their real identity being understood. Evolutionary tricks and adaptations have contributed to their successful survival. In fact, all 37 species of the cat family behave similarly in the way they hunt, utilizing flexible spines and sharp teeth to catch their prey. No surprise, then, that they are one of the greatest predators since the dinosaurs and are still evolving.
NATURE: The Story of Catschronicles the 11 million year history of how the most widespread carnivore on the planet evolved, from their roots in ancient rainforests to today’s popular house cat. The latest discoveries by scientists studying their physiology and behaviors are also incorporated into the series.
The first episode, Asia to Africa, shows how the first cats arose in the rainforests of Southeast Asia and moved throughout the continent adjusting to other environments such as high altitudes (snow leopard, Pallas’s cat) and frozen forests (Siberian tigers). The film introduces the most ancient type of cat existing today, the rare clouded leopard, whose genetic blueprint is shared by all cats. Learning how to become ambush predators through play is one of the crucial traits that all young members of the cat family must develop in order to survive in the wild. Cubs of species like the clouded leopard don’t have much time to master these skills before their mother forces them out to find their own territories as solitary predators. It is one of the reasons that around nine million years ago, the ancient tree climbing felines began to fan out all over Asia.
The program explains that a drop in sea level about eight million years ago made Africa accessible via the Red Sea land bridges to the adaptable cats. On the African plains, a keen sense of hearing and an ability to jump high were often necessary attributes for these solo hunters to catch prey. The lion however is the only cat who transitioned from being solitary to living in prides with shared responsibilities and defined roles. Experts theorize that early lions figured out they could hold the best hunting grounds if they worked together. The second episode, Into the Americas, traces how the first cats crossed the Bering Strait land bridge from Asia into North America around nine million years ago, competing for food and territory with the early canida ancestors of wolves and foxes.
But the origins of the most successful cat of all, the domestic house cat, lay in the wildcat’s ability to catch mice attracted by grain stored in villages. They made their way from the Mideast to Europe to America serving the same mouser role on trading ships. The program states that a genetic mutation created the first distinct feline breed, the Siamese cat, in Southeast Asia. People then bred domestic cats for the features they wanted, resulting in more than 40 different types of felines. But although cats are still wild at heart, they may evolve yet again if owners want to reduce the time their pets spend hunting.
Our dear friend Patricia Neal once told us how mean her husband Roald Dahl could be . . . regaling us with tales of terror. That was then, and we know Dahl was so beloved for his children’s classic books. Public Media Distribution, LLC has re-released Roald Dahl’s The BFG” on DVD. This film is also available for digital download. Neal would say the title stands for “Big Fucking Goon.”
It actually stands for The Big Friendly Giant; Dahl’s beloved children’s book comes to life in this classic animated feature, which debuted in 1989, about the amazing power of friendship between a little girl and a big-hearted giant.
One moonlit night, little orphan Sophie is snatched from her bed by an awesome giant who whisks her away on a magical, thrilling, and funny adventure. Unlike scary giants such as the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, and the Bonecruncher, the BFG is a good giant who blows sweet dreams into the bedroom windows of children as they slumber.
When Sophie learns that a monstrous crew of meanies is off to England to gobble up innocent boys and girls, she sets out to stop them once and for all, with the help of her new, rather large, friend.
This DVD includes the digitally restored version of the animated film along with two special features, a never-before-seen
Dahl documentary and before/after Restoration Video. The documentary features an interview with Dahl in which he talks about several of the well-known books he has written including The BFG, The Witches and Matilda. In this video viewers gain insight into how some of these classics came to life.
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