Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
Mauritania, on the northwest coast of Africa, is characterised by arid desert plains that make most of the country non-arable. Beneath the surface, however, the land is rich in the iron ore that sustains the Mauritanian economy. Since 1963, the Mauritania Railway, running 704 kilometres (roughly 440 miles) across unforgiving terrain, has connected the country’s inland mining centre, Zouérat, with the port city of Nouadhibou. With decades of drought forcing much of Mauritania’s once-nomadic population into urban areas, the railway has become increasingly vital to the country of four million, as food, goods and people join the iron ore onboard.
This short documentary by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Miguel de Olaso (aka Macgregor) casts the railroad as the backbone of the country. De Olaso combines a visually rich survey of its operations with information that supplements and sometimes undercuts the aestheticised cinematography, offering a compellingly immersive journey on transport, resources and demography.
Video by Macgregor
The ancient world
What did the Rosetta Stone’s inscription actually communicate?
Why making if-then connections might be the key to consciousness
The cast of ‘misfit toys’ who keep life on an idyllic tourist island afloat
Biography and memoir
What Akiko saw at the centre of the Hiroshima blast, and the indelible mark it left
To understand the limits of human senses, look to the wild world of animal cognition
Design and fashion
From sheep to sea – an ode to the iconic sweater that warms Cornish sailors
The revolutionary artist who propelled the Black Panther movement with imagery
Yes, the Inuit have dozens of words for snow – but what does each one mean exactly?
History of science
How one of history’s most beautiful books was used to find fate in the cosmos