Tag Archives: documentary

The Seychelles Treasure Islands

Breathtaking documentary on Seychelles, an island archipelago on the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

Its a heaven on earth considering the vast number of pristine beaches, the natural forests to be found on the island. Tortoises are found in plenty as is the marine life which is quite spectacular.

The documentary takes through the coast of Mahe, Silhouette, Amerantes & La Digue with interesting tidbits about its history. Its apparently called a treasure island because some pirates have hidden some treasure somewhere in the island. So there are people still digging up here and there in the hope of finding some lost treasures.

The language spoken is Creole, its predominantly African in nature though it has some French influence because of the past colonisation by France.

There are some 155 islands with Victoria the capital being the biggest. Tourism is the mainstay of the country with some exports of copra, fisheries, cinnamon and vanilla. Lot of Indian films and TV serials and ad films are shot here for their locale and beauty.

The documentary does not go in depth into the economic and cultural life of the people of Seychelles, which would have been better. You can watch the documentary here.

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Sao Tome and Principe

Breathtaking documentary on the islands of Sao Tome and Principe, an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa.

It is a very small island with a total population of not more than 215,000 and mainly coffee and cocoa is grown here. Portuguese explorers discovered it, so the main language spoken in Portuguese.

The documentary is in the form of a photographer Rui Camilo’s exploration of the island to the cocoa plantations, their factory, the farm land, speaking to young people and old etc. Its not and indepth look at the cultures, languages, history, tradition of the people living there but enough to make out an idyllic sort of place to put one’s foot up and relax.

They have breathtaking beaches which could be a magnet for tourists, but the tourism infrastructure is inadequate, but its being beefed up now with foreign investment. There is lot of biodiversity in terms of forests, nature parks which could also provide for substantial interests in terms of forest walks, hiking, trekking, mountain cycling, marathons etc. Football is the most popular sport being played in the island.

Documentary is ok, but lot of footage is spent on the photographer, which could have covered the island better. You can watch the documentary here

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A river and its people, the Niger river

Interesting documentary on the River Niger in North West Africa and the people living by it.

River Niger is the third most important river body system in Africa after River Nile and Congo river. The documentary goes on a journey in a small boat from the village of Gao to Timbucto and lastly to Mopti. On the way, they descend of some small villages by the river side, which are all wholly dependent upon the river for their livelihood.

The documentary goes to Tibility, Bankom, Timjin, Dagaforu and lastly to Mopti. In all these small villages, fishing is the main occupation. The desert is not far away from the shores and so there is very little by way of economy except fishing and sustenance farming.

Trade does take place of dried fishes and some craft work. Timbuctu is a worn out ghost city living on its past glory. Mopti is a bustling post town with lot of trade activity going on here with business people from as far away as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso coming to sell their products. Its also the place where the boats are made.

Since its a river documentary, it does not go deep into the villages or town. Life is tough in these parts, but the river Niger supports them. You can watch this documentary here.

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Mauritius – Paradise in the Indian Ocean

Breathtaking documentary on Mauritius – the island in the Indian Ocean that is everybody’s envy, honeymooners’ dream holiday, and that has got something for everybody.

Its situated towards the east of Madagascar and is part of the African continent, but the cultures, traditions, etc. are a mix of Indian and Creole. Many Indians came in here as sugar plantation workers and stayed back so it has a huge population of Indians with their own cultures, temples, traditions et al.

But most people come for the beaches and they are a plenty on the island, good clean beaches, with delicious Creole food, the best in hospitality. Marine life on the island is equally breathtaking so there is plenty of water sport going on here – scuba diving, ocean walk, gliding, swimming, diving, snorkeling etc.

It has got plenty of options for everybody – hiking, trekking, running, cycling, – all in all its heaven on earth.

The documentary is a pure narration form with no interviews whatsover. It does’nt dwell deep into the history or the cultures of the island. That would have been interesting.

You can watch the documentary here.

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Lovely documentary on Madagascar, the island nation off the coast of Africa.

Madagascar is the second largest island country after Indonesia. And it is from Indonesia and India and Arabs and Africa that its people came and settled there centuries ago, initially looking to trade from its coast and later on settling in the island, making the island a delicious mix of cultures from everywhere.

There is lot of Indian influence on the island and there are some Indians, Gujarati speaking settlers here, who came as traders and then settled here to live and mingle. The documentary also mentions that Arabs came to do slave trade with the Indians here, though that needs some more research to be done.

Lemur monkeys are found in plenty in the island and it is veritably their home. Sea cucumbers are found off the Nosy Berafia coast and it is very popular with the Chinese for its medicinal properties. In Majunga, one finds plenty of foot rickshaws, that used to be very common in India way back about more than 50 years ago. Foot rickshaws are banned in India though even now you go to New Delhi, you find cycle rickshaws. That is more better than the foot rickshaws which are inhuman mode of transportation and the island should have banned that in favour of cycle rickshaws.

Nosy Be is a major tourist centre in the island and there is a Russian bay as well apparently because some Russians were stranded here more than hundred years ago during the Russia Japan war in the early 20th century. No lingering effects of Russian influence, though French influence is very strong what with them annexing the island and then giving independence in 1960.

The documentary takes the viewer through to Diego Suarez now known as Antsiranana, Nosy Befaria, Majunga, Nosy Iranja, Nosy Be & Russian Bay. It delves very briefly on the culture and practices of the islanders and that too very near the coast line. The documentary does not go deep into the villages of the island, which would have been better for the viewers. Lot of camera time is on the cruise ship which in my view was not necessary. Therefore, it is a peripheral look at Madagascar and its people, culture, traditions etc.

You can view the documentary here

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Libya’s forbidden deserts

Interesting documentary on Libya’s forbidden deserts presented by David Adams.

He seeks to retrace the journey taken by the Roman empire into the edges of the Sahara desert assuming it to end at Lectis but onwards he goes onto Tripoli, a bustling capital city, Ghadames, Gabron, Garama and the Akakus mountains in search of any trace of the Roman empire in these places.

He did find Roman coloumns at Lectis and cave sculptures and drawings at Garama and Akakus mountains, but they might have been made by ancient Libyans rather than the Romans. He was especially looking for evidence of chariots drawn by horses and he finds some semblance of the same in the Akakus mountains.

He also attended a Tuareg marriage ceremony which was as elaborate as it comes. Overall a good documentary to watch and know about Libya, but too much of footage was shown of Adams which was not good. The documentary is in narration plus some interviews so overall its a good documentary of a formidable place to visit. You can watch the documentary here.

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Mayotte – the island in the lagoon

Breathtaking documentary on Mayotte, an island in the Mozambique channel off the African coast.

It is a French department, so it is ruled by France so to speak. The island is small but is very fertile and has magnificent natural beauty for tourists to enjoy, like the oceans, forests, the island cultures, food, dance & songs and walks etc.

They have a young demographic with average age being less than 55 years, but with a growing population, that demographic dividend is being eroded. Islam is the major religion and agriculture is grown on about 1/3rd of the cultivable land. With french governing it, the infrastructure in terms of schools, colleges, roads, hospitals are quite good.

Mayotte is a volcanic island, but the volcanoes are extinct now. It is surrounded by coral reef. Its plant life, marine life, forest life and animal life is quite diverse. Lemur monkeys are found in plenty in the island.

The documentary did not mention anything about the touristy spots or lodges etc. It was a full narration documentary, and interviews were there but there were no sub-titles, only voice overs. You can watch the documentary here.

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Michael Jordan

An ESPN Sports Classic documentary on the life and times of basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Its a nice short documentary with a lot of sound bytes from a lot of people including his team mates, coaches and the media guys with a lot of videos thrown in for good measure.

It starts with his younger days and goes on to his college playing days for North Carolina, his NBA career with Chicago Bulls with whom he won 6 NBA championships. Then his sudden retirement to play baseball and his return to Chicago Bulls again and then he retires again and comes back again for a third and last time as owner of Washington Wizards who couldn’t resist playing basketball.

Nice documentary on the major star in world of sports.

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The Romantic Life and Tragedy: Robert Schumann

A documentary on the romantic life and times of the German composer Robert Schumann.

Its a two part documentary, on the early life of Robert Schumann when he learnt piano at the age of 5 and started composing at the age of 7. A scholarly kind he also wrote novels and published a music magazine. Robert started studying music with Frederik Weick a piano teacher and fell in love with his young daughter, Clara.

After an injury to his right hand, he concentrated on writing music. The documentary subsequently prevails upon his love affair with Clara and the fighter with her father to secure her hand. His musical career flourished after his marriage and he became an acclaimed composer.

The last part of the documentary deals with his mental illness, his incarceration at a private asylum and his death from that illness. The documentary was a talking one, with few images thrown in and some dialogues muttered in between.

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Brilliant and haunting Netflix documentary on the mass incarceration of black people in the USA since decades, privatization of the prison system, the nexus between corporations and law makers, the corruption in the system, and the deliberate otherisation of black people that has been going on for ages and ages.

It is both haunting and disturbing at the same time, the extent to which racism existed in America and still exists today and the systematic manner in which black and Hispanic and Latino people are put down in their society. When slavery ended with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (hence the name 13th), it was mandated that nobody be kept as a slave or in detention unless he or she has committed a crime.

And that’s where the industrious police, of course backed up by the administration, started putting thousands and thousands of people of colour in jails for pretty offences which should have been thrown out at the first instance by the magistrate. Then they had this plea bargain system, where you could accept the crime and be put away for a shorter time or go trial and be put away for something like 30 years.

US has this CCA which is a private prison industrial complex with its own set of bureacracy and rules and rules and sponsors and multi million dollar contracts for everything from prison uniforms, to food to health services to sophisticated surveillance system. All to keep more people inside jails.

Very scary and it seems that everybody has just bought into this system until the Black Lives Matter which is now supposedly making a huge difference. India also has got its own racism (multi racism in fact) where people of one or two religion and people of lower caste are frowned up, beaten, killed, put into jail, denied facilities, and everything that blacks and coloured people undergo in the US.

Brilliant documentary this one – it is in the form of comments from important people interspersed with images and videos from the past.

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Style Wars

1984 documentary “Style Wars” on graffiti art, rap songs and break dance. But mostly the theme is about graffiti art.

The film focuses on the 1970s counter culture of graffiti art in New York on the trains and building walls. The focus of the documentary is mostly on train walls. The film does’nt delve into the founding of the graffiti art but mostly on the constant fight between the graffiti artists on the one hand and the establishment on the other.

The establishment in the form of the metro authority who spend considerable sums of monies in cleaning up the trains and who have their million plus passengers who have their own freedom of expression. If graffiti is seen as a freedom of expression then the then Mayor Ed Koch went considerable distance to prevent it including installing barbed wire fences, deploying dogs etc . The graffiti writers on the other hand say that there is no other place for them to display their art.

There emerged from the graffiti artists some big names such as Mr. Seen whose graffiti is depicted here above and some other big names who had a huge fan following. Nowadays the courts are debating whether graffiti artists own the IPR on such graffiti art. Few cases have already been decided by court.

The documentary is a little bit grainy, but it has some excellent live videos and images to go by with the narration being kept to the bare minimum. This documentary won at the Sundance.

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