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Invisible lives: a legacy of China’s family planning rules

15 minutes

Allergy to originality

5 minutes

A view from the window

8 minutes

A day in Pompeii

9 minutes

This adorable sea slug is a sneaky little thief

4 minutes

How the one-child policy created a Chinese underclass of 13 million people with no rights

In 1979 China introduced one of the largest social engineering efforts in human history – the ‘one-child policy’ – to combat population growth. In addition to leaving the country with problematic demographic imbalances, this family planning policy has created an underclass of 13 million unregistered people, all born ‘illegally’. Parents with more than one child have been fired from their jobs and burdened with exorbitant fines or fees to register their unsanctioned children. Even more troubling, people without official registration are not classed as Chinese citizens, and so can’t access even the most basic forms of social welfare, including healthcare, education and protection under the law, nor do they have the right to work or marry. In 2015 the Chinese Communist Party announced it would ease the one-child policy and grant residence rights to all unregistered people, but millions must still fight arduous bureaucratic battles to be granted basic rights.

Video by Thomson Reuters Foundation

Filming: Shanshan Chen

How the one-child policy created a Chinese underclass of 13 million people with no rights

In 1979 China introduced one of the largest social engineering efforts in human history – the ‘one-child policy’ – to combat population growth. In addition to leaving the country with problematic demographic imbalances, this family planning policy has created an underclass of 13 million unregistered people, all born ‘illegally’. Parents with more than one child have been fired from their jobs and burdened with exorbitant fines or fees to register their unsanctioned children. Even more troubling, people without official registration are not classed as Chinese citizens, and so can’t access even the most basic forms of social welfare, including healthcare, education and protection under the law, nor do they have the right to work or marry. In 2015 the Chinese Communist Party announced it would ease the one-child policy and grant residence rights to all unregistered people, but millions must still fight arduous bureaucratic battles to be granted basic rights.

Video by Thomson Reuters Foundation

Filming: Shanshan Chen

Is reboot culture out of control? Or are we kidding ourselves that anything is original?

In 1903, Mark Twain defended his friend and fellow author Helen Keller against charges of plagiarism, writing in a letter: ‘The kernel, the soul – let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances – is plagiarism.’ Of course, even Twain’s screed against the concept of originality was hardly original. As the ancient Roman playwright Terence notes in his comedy The Eunuch: ‘Nothing has yet been said that’s not been said before.’ In this short firm, the US filmmaker Drew Christie turns a moviegoer’s complaint to a box-office attendant about a lack of originality in Hollywood into a madcap exploration of appropriation, adaptation and plagiarism in art and, more generally, human thought. Deploying hand-drawn animation and a stream of Wikipedia articles to droll comedic effect, the film approaches its topic in a manner you might just call ‘original’ – if you still cling to such silly notions.

Video by Drew Christie

What does school look and sound like when you and your classmates are deaf?

The California School for the Deaf (CSD) is a free school in Fremont and Riverside for deaf and hard-of-hearing students between the ages of three and 21. In A View from the Window, the US director Chris Filippone and the Iranian director Azar Kafaei observe a third-grade class at the school’s Fremont location. Taking a fly-on-the-wall approach, the directors capture the children as they fuss over the crayfish in the classroom fish tank, speak with a guest about his experience as a deaf black man, and hit the playground for recess. Through their immersive filmmaking, a vivid bilingual world emerges – one that, in many ways, is very much similar to a traditional elementary-school classroom. This touching short has been a film-festival favourite in 2018, appearing at the Palm Springs International Shortfest and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, among others.

Directors: Chris Filippone, Azar Kafaei

From eruption to obliteration – the sights and sounds of 48 fateful hours in Pompeii

Before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 CE, Pompeii was a thriving Roman port city and commercial hub near modern-day Naples, and home to an estimated 15,000 people. Closer to the mountain’s base and on the other side, the nearby town of Herculaneum, estimated population 5,000, was smaller, wealthier and a popular resort for elite Romans. After the eruption, both remained buried, their memories lost to time, until they were excavated and identified in the 18th century. In the years since, the continuing excavation of their eerily preserved buildings, artifacts and human remains have given archeologists and researchers an invaluable window into ancient Roman life.

The only firsthand account of the eruption comes from the author and lawyer Pliny the Younger. In his correspondence with the historian Tacitus, Pliny describes helplessly watching from nearby Misenum as the tragedy unfolds: 

Some wishing to die, from the very fear of dying; some lifting their hands to the gods; but the greater part convinced that there were now no gods at all, and that the final endless night of which we have heard had come upon the world. 

This animation, produced in 2009 for an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum, brings his harrowing words to stark and vivid life. Transporting viewers back to the morning of the eruption, the video recreates sights and sounds from that fateful day through to the following night, at which point both Pompeii and Herculaneum already lay buried deep in volcanic ash and debris.

Video by Zero One Studio

Far from sluggish: the remarkable sea creature that weaponises its dinner

Nudibranchs, also commonly known as sea slugs, are a group of snail-like sea invertebrates. Despite appearing more or less defenceless, nudibranchs broadcast their whereabouts with their flamboyant, brightly coloured bodies. From an evolutionary standpoint, it might seem like a curious move, but their luminous skin actually serves as a warning to would-be predators to let them know they’d make for a dangerous meal. While some nudibranchs accumulate toxins and other defensive chemicals in their bodies, others – like the star of this film – have an even craftier method of warding off enemies. This remarkable short from the science and nature documentary series Deep Look details the clever way that some nudibranchs protect themselves by stealing defences from stinging sea animals known as hydroids. You can read more about this video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Josh Cassidy

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

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Essay/
Poverty & Development
What really helps the poor?

It’s difficult to test whether poverty relief actually works. Do randomised controlled trials provide a scientific measure?

Stephanie Wykstra

Essay/
History
Slavery-entangled philosophy

John Locke took part in administering the slave-owning colonies. Does that make him, and liberalism itself, hypocritical?

Holly Brewer