1 Revealing Maugham (UK)
(83 min; 2012; English)
Director: Michael House
The documentary tells the story of Somerset Maugham, the novelist, spy, playwright, physician and prolific writer, who took on the taboo subjects of adultery and sexual jealousy and breathed new life into the spy novel. Revealing Mr. Maugham also looks at the writer’s personal struggles — including a stammer that Maugham developed as a child after his parents died.
2 The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion (2010/UK)
A six part BBC series with Michael Mosley who takes an informative and ambitious journey exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society’s historical path.
Episode 6: Who Are We? (60 min)
Director: Nigel Walk
We now know that the brain – the organ that more than any other makes us human – is one of the wonders of the universe, and yet until the 17th century it was barely studied. The twin sciences of brain anatomy and psychology have offered different visions of who we are. Now these sciences are coming together and in the process have revealed some surprising and uncomfortable truths about what really shapes our thoughts, feelings and desires. And the search to understand how our brains work has also revealed that we are all – whether we realise it or not – carrying out …
3 Saving Face (Pakistan/USA)
(40 min; 2012; Urdu/English and with English subtitles)
Directors: Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy
Multiple award winner including Oscar Award for Best Documentary, Short Subjects, Academy Awards, USA 2012; Emmy for Best Documentary & Outstanding Editing: Documentary and Long Form, News & Documentary Emmy Awards 2013; Audience Award, Aspen Shortsfest 2012; among others
Zakia is a survivor of acid attack, which has become appallingly common in some parts of the world, mainly Cambodia, Afghanistan and Southern Asia. This documentary focuses on Pakistan, which has around 100 reported cases per year, while it is thought many more, especially in rural areas, go unreported.
Zakia was attacked by her husband when she filed for divorce after years of abuse. Rukhsana was attacked by her husband, then her sister-in-law and mother-in -law, who set fire to her and locked her in a room to die. The film follows the stories of these two women and their fight for justice.
4 South America with Simon Reeve (UK)
A BBC 2 five part series with Simon Reeve. The adventurer and author returns to the continent to traveling from Peru to Paraguay. An astonishing adventure through some of the most beautiful, fascinating places on earth. From giant cities to remote communities, Simon meets the people of a changing continent. He delves deep into what really makes the continent tick, meeting warlords, forgotten tribes and conservationist fighting to preserve endangered species.
Episode 1 (59 min; English)
Simon Reeve journeys through the remote and little-visited northeast of the continent, from the spectacular tabletop mountain Mount Roraima in Venezuela through Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
This section of the earth’s crust is known as the Guiana Shield and contains the most unspoiled area of rainforest anywhere in the world. In Venezuela, Simon meets some of the thousands of migrants fleeing the economic collapse of their country, an ongoing and underreported humanitarian crisis.
In neighbouring Guyana, the only English-speaking country on the continent, he visits an incredibly remote settlement in the depths of the jungle and learns that the country could be on the verge of its own oil boom.
In Suriname, Simon has an unforgettable and surreal encounter with Ronnie Brunswijk, the gun-toting former warlord who is now one of Suriname’s most successful businessmen. Simon ends his journey in French Guiana, which is still a department of France.
5 Raga: A Journey into the Soul of India (USA)
(97 min; 1971; English/Hindi)
Director: Howard Worth
Shot in the second half of the 1960s by Howard Worth, the documentary captures the famous sitarist in India with his mentor, on the banks of the Ganges, before telling the story of his breaking of new ground in America and of his influential friendships with Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison, the spiritually awakened guitarist of the Beatles. With illuminating reflections on Hinduism, on the transmission of traditional knowledge, and on intercultural dialogue, “Raga” analyses the thirst for spirituality and appetite for new horizons which the youth culture of the time were engaged in. The keystone of the screenplay, Ravi Shankar’s performance at the legendary Monterey Festival, amply attests to this phenomenon. A profound and richly illustrated piece of cinematography which stands amongst the great world music documentaries, like “Tropicalia”, the film devoted to the Brazilian avant-garde of the 60’s, and “El Gusto”, the touching panorama devoted to the Algerian chaâbi.
6 Film Club
Of Human Bondage (USA)
(83 min; 1934; b/w; English)
Director: John Cromwell
With Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee
Recipient of the Photoplay Awards 1934 for Best Picture
Bette Davis delivers a lively performance as the femme fatale Mildred Rogers in this brisk adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s 1915 novel. Leslie Howard plays club-footed Philip Carey who becomes obsessed with tearoom waitress Mildred so much so that he visually hallucinates her everywhere. Mildred rejects him but then drifts back into his life numerous times only to become more nasty and villainous with each return.
Of Human Bondage is widely regarded by critics as the film that made Bette Davis a star.