Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
For 10 years barely a day has passed without Afghanistan making the news, from the tragic deaths of British soldiers to the efforts to bring democracy. To mark a decade of involvement in one of world's most complex and dangerous regions, BBC Current Affairs presents three unique films looking behind the headlines. From exploring the hopes and dreams of the Afghan people to examining the plan for peace, Lyse Doucet, Mark Urban and John Ware tell the story of Afghanistan 10 years on.
Some time after sunset a group gathered round a TV in Kandahar, Afghanistan. According to the CIA, the viewers included Osama Bin Laden and the date was 11 September 2001. They witnessed live the unfolding horror in Manhattan.
This terrorist attack launched a conflict in Afghanistan that has lasted almost a decade. With testimony from some of the key players from Britain, America and Afghanistan, John Ware presents the inside story of the past 10 years. It's a story of missed opportunities and own goals, which converted an invasion strategy designed to avoid ground troops into a pitched battle featuring 150,000 foreign soldiers and 35,000 insurgents.
Getting our troops out is now a government priority – but where will that leave the Afghans who, after 25 years of turmoil, still dream of peace?
For the first time, The Battle For Helmand tells the full story of Britain's brutal five-year war in Afghanistan. It describes how the most intense and sustained combat since the Korean War has cost more than 360 British, and countless Afghan, lives. Combining gripping frontline testimony with the tactical insights (and criticisms) of senior officers, presenter Mark Urban reveals how Britain abandoned plan after plan; how we went to war under-resourced, were quickly over-stretched and ended up besieged. Ignorant of the enemy, conditions and pitfalls ahead, it took the arrival of tens of thousands of American troops to sustain the task that Britain started.
Most people know Afghanistan as a country forever at war. But for centuries, it's been a destination for explorers and adventurers. What makes this land so fraught, and yet so fascinating? Lyse Doucet takes a trip across the Afghanistan that doesn't feature on the news – a country of stunning natural beauty and a proud, independent people. It's a journey to meet Afghan poets and politicians, wrestlers and warlords. In the north, a Mujahadeen turned Governor dreams of building a glittering Afghan Dubai. In the southern city of Kandahar, bodybuilders dream of being the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lyse unlocks a nation she's known for 25 years, exploring the culture, heritage and values of an extraordinary people.
From Tunisia to Egypt, Libya to Syria, the winds of change are sweeping across the Middle East, with a very modern kind of revolution. For this unique two-part series, Mishal Husain (BBC Global News, Newsnight) visits the source of the so-called Arab Spring, meeting the young people at the heart of the revolutions. Using video and stills shot by thousands of people on mobile phone cameras, Mishal explores how cyber activism ignited a revolt which led to the fall of the powerful in Tunisia and Egypt and how the ongoing struggle for political freedom in Libya and Syria is being fought in cyberspace.
She looks at the role of cyber activism across the Middle East, but also shows that the success of these revolutions depends on people taking a stand, facing bullets and tanks, and being prepared to die for their cause.
Following his journeys through Russia and Africa, Jonathan Dimbleby travels to South America to report on dramatic changes in one of the world's least understood continents. Starting in Chile and heading up through Bolivia and Colombia to Venezuela and Brazil, Dimbleby investigates the economic miracle that is bringing South America out of the shadow of the United States.
It is 30 years since his last visit to the continent and the differences are striking. A thriving democracy in Chile that has put the Pinochet era behind it; Colombia blossoming as it struggles to win the war against drugs and terror; Venezuela experiencing socialism Chavez-style; and Brazil destined to become a new economic superpower in the next decade.
From the Andes to the Amazon, in thriving cities, on the slopes of dramatic mountains and in the deepest jungles, Dimbleby embarks on a stimulating journey, meeting the people who are building the new South America and examining what the impact of this change will have on each country – and the world at large.
A Fresh One production
17 Days Buried Alive explores the almost unimaginable experience of the Chilean miners who spent 17 gruelling days completely cut off from the outside world before contact was established with them.
On 5 August 2010, a rock fall at the San Jose mine in Northern Chile left 33 gold and copper miners trapped 2,300 feet underground. For 17 days nobody knew whether the miners were dead or alive, and the miners didn't know if they would ever be rescued. They made a pact not to talk of what happened down below, but now six have spoken.
Faced with extremely limited food supplies and the horror of silence, they grappled with existential questions most people can’t conceive of. In 17 Days Buried Alive, Bafta award-winning director Angus Macqueen explores the personal responses of the miners, the fear, the madness and the sheer determination that led to their dramatic rescue.
A Ronachan Films production
After 25 years, BAFTA-winning film-maker Phil Agland returns to Cameroun to search for the Baka pygmy family that starred in his acclaimed documentary Baka – People Of The Rain Forest.
For the last quarter of a century the family have been largely unaware of the momentous changes that have happened in the world beyond their forest. One generation later, Agland finds that pressures beyond their forest world are irrevocably changing the way of life of the Baka. He witnesses the testing of the Baka's limits and the human dramas of everyday life that draw viewers once again into their extraordinary world as their sparkling sense of humour and unique charm continue to shine through in this compelling documentary.
A River Films production
Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani embark on a motoring odyssey around India to discover how the country's booming car industry is impacting on its billion-plus population.
India is one of the fastest growing economies on Earth and nowhere is this reflected more than in the explosion in car ownership. Anita Rani (The One Show) travels west from Delhi to Chennai in a brand new Indian-built four by four to meet the businessmen and celebrities who epitomise the new India. But India’s growth has a dark side – including widespread corruption.
Justin Rowlatt (Newsnight, The One Show) heads East, via Calcutta, on his trip to Chennai, travelling in a Hindustan Ambassador – a car that epitomises the old India. This India has hundreds of millions of subsistence farmers, many with no electricity or running water – let alone cars.
Their very different rides make for two epic and chaotic journeys full of excitement and colour.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, The Conspiracy Files re-examines whether the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were the work of Al Qaeda, or part of a much wider conspiracy that reaches to the heart of the US Government.
It was the defining moment of the new millennium, but who carried out the attacks? President Obama has poured scorn on the conspiracy theories, but to little effect. Why, as the conspiracy theorists ask, was the hole in the Pentagon so small? Why did the World Trade Centre buildings collapse as if being demolished by explosives? Why did Tower 7 fall when it was never hit by a plane? And why was America so unprepared and so slow to react when warnings had been received?
Based on a programme that first aired in 2007, this film contains new material relating to a controversy that just refuses to die.
These two 60-minute documentaries follow Saira Khan and her husband Steve on their journey to adopt a baby girl from an orphanage in Karachi, Pakistan.
They have chosen one of the most dangerous countries in the world and will know nothing about the baby they hope to be given. This is a journey into the unknown.
In the UK, the couple have to go through the same rigorous process as domestic adopters. Only after an emotional eight months are they finally approved as prospective adopters.
Forced to leave her young son behind with Steve in Oxford, Saira flies to Karachi alone. Under pressure, in a highly volatile city, she waits in her hotel for a call to tell her a baby has been left at the orphanage.
After just six days the call comes through. A three-day-old baby girl has been abandoned. For Saira, it's time to meet her daughter.
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