Eyes of exodus

28 minutes

Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise

1 minute

Walter Lippmann, public opinion and propaganda

18 minutes

Eli

4 minutes

I came from the unknown to sing

11 minutes

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What happens when refugees start to outnumber residents on a small tourist island

The Greek island of Kastellorizo is normally a sleepy tourist destination, with its population of just a few hundred mostly isolated from the events of the outside world. But life on the picturesque island shifted dramatically with the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011 and the ensuing refugee crisis. Located just a mile off the south coast of Turkey, for a while Kastellorizo became an impromptu waypoint for Syrian refugees arriving on smugglers’ boats, seeking asylum elsewhere in Europe. With limited resources to accommodate the enormous influx of people, the residents received them in varying ways: some did everything they could to help; others lashed out in anger; most landed somewhere in the middle, struggling to provide aid without upending their own lives. Intertwining the perspectives of several Syrian refugees and Kastellorizo residents, Alexandra Liveris’s documentary humanises the bitter realities of the ongoing migrant crisis, in which both displaced people and those receiving them are pushed to their limits.

Director: Alexandra Liveris

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Do the Volgelkop bop: how a newly discovered bird-of-paradise dazzles his mate

Beginning in 2004, the evolutionary biologist Ed Scholes of Cornell University in New York and the US nature photographer Tim Laman embarked on an ambitious project to find and film the 39 then-known members of the birds-of-paradise family that live in remote regions of New Guinea, Australia and nearby islands. Living in largely predator-free habitats have allowed male birds-of-paradise to develop some of the world’s most colourful plumage and elaborate mating displays, making them the favourites of many a David Attenborough nature documentary.

During a 2016 trek to west New Guinea, Laman and Scholes did one better than simply capturing new images of these birds – they discovered a new species. Now known as the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise (Lophorina niedda), it was previously considered a subspecies of the Greater superb bird-of-paradise. However, Laman and Scholes’s documentation of the male’s mating dance revealed enough difference in its song, movement and feather display for the Vogelkop superb to be recognised as a distinct species. With its first documented observation dating back to 1930, this video marks the first known time that the male Vogelkop superb has been caught on camera in all its shimmying, brilliant black-and-blue glory.

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Before Chomsky, there was Lippmann: the First World War and ‘manufactured consent’

While the ‘manufacture of consent’ is an idea now mostly associated with Noam Chomsky, the phrase was actually coined by the US journalist and writer Walter Lippman in his influential book Public Opinion (1922) – a fact that Chomsky and Edward S Herman, his co-author of Manufacturing Consent (1988), readily acknowledge. Lippman contended that, because the world is too complex for any individual to comprehend, a strong society needs people and institutions specialised in collecting data and creating the most accurate interpretations of reality possible. When used properly, this information should allow decisionmakers to ‘manufacture consent’ in the public interest. However, in one of the most damning critiques of democracy, Lippman identifies how public opinion is instead largely forged by political elites with self-serving interests – powerful people manipulating narratives to their own ends. This video essay from the YouTube channel Then & Now dives into Lippman’s legacy, starting with his study of the rise of the importance of public opinion during the First World War, and extending through an examination of why, a century after Public Opinion, democracy still has a major mass-media problem.

Director: Lewis Waller

Video by Then & Now

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How the devotion of a canine companion enhanced the life of a disability advocate

Lorna Marsh, a UK dance instructor and disability rights advocate, uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy quadriplegia, which also limits the use of her arms. When the charity Canine Partners for Independence offered her an assistance dog, Marsh was initially reluctant to accept, worried that a working dog might not enjoy a fulfilling life. But she soon found that beyond helping her live with more freedom, her new dog Eli was a true companion, their relationship brimming with affection, mutual enjoyment and a bit of mischief. The UK filmmaker and casting director Leanne Flinn’s film Eli (2010) is a day in the life of Marsh and her canine partner, featuring many of the roughly 300 commands Eli has been trained to perform, as well as a hefty dose of play. The heartwarming short was created as part of the straight 8 project, which challenges filmmakers to craft shorts using only a single cartridge of Super 8 film with no additional post-production editing.

Director: Leanne Flinn

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‘My cell is smaller than my size’ – how writing poetry saved a political prisoner

The poet Ghazi Hussein was born to a Palestinian family exiled in Syria. Starting at age 14, he was subjected to 20 years, on and off, of imprisonment and torture, and deemed ‘guilty of carrying thoughts’ though never formally charged. In prison, Hussein often felt hopeless and wished for death but, through his poetry, he was able to build a mental sanctuary that saved his life. In 2000, he arrived in the UK, where, after a three-year legal struggle, he and his family gained political asylum, settling in Edinburgh. Now a BAFTA award-winning playwright and acclaimed poet, Hussein continues to draw on his experience of oppression, using his writing to explore and confront the racism he encounters in Scotland. Despite this, he still considers Edinburgh his first and only home, a place where he has a voice. In this short film by the UK-Iranian artist Roxana Vilk, Hussein reflects on the pain and perseverance that has defined his life, performing poems from his book Taking it Like a Man: Torture and Survival, a Journey in Poetry (2006).

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What happens when refugees start to outnumber residents on a small tourist island

The Greek island of Kastellorizo is normally a sleepy tourist destination, with its population of just a few hundred mostly isolated from the events of the outside world. But life on the picturesque island shifted dramatically with the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011 and the ensuing refugee crisis. Located just a mile off the south coast of Turkey, for a while Kastellorizo became an impromptu waypoint for Syrian refugees arriving on smugglers’ boats, seeking asylum elsewhere in Europe. With limited resources to accommodate the enormous influx of people, the residents received them in varying ways: some did everything they could to help; others lashed out in anger; most landed somewhere in the middle, struggling to provide aid without upending their own lives. Intertwining the perspectives of several Syrian refugees and Kastellorizo residents, Alexandra Liveris’s documentary humanises the bitter realities of the ongoing migrant crisis, in which both displaced people and those receiving them are pushed to their limits.

Director: Alexandra Liveris

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