ATHEISM - A ROUGH HISTORY OF DISBELIEF

With the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the emotional whiplash that followed, the monotheistic religions of the West took a more stridently political turn. It was in this context that Jonathan Miller, the British theatre and opera director, felt compelled to create a three-part documentary tracing the history of religious skepticism and disbelief.

Miller goes on to guide the viewer through the historic evolution of religious doubt, from the skepticism of Greek and Roman philosophers to the Deism of Enlightenment intellectuals and the emergence of explicit atheism in the writings of the 18th century French aristocrat Paul-Henri Thiry, the Baron d’Holbach, who wrote in his Système de la Nature:

"If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them; and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests."

Miller also talks with a number of well-known contemporary atheists, including playwright Arthur Miller, physicist Steven Weinberg and philosopher Colin McGinn.


BBC The Atheism Tapes - Interviews

The Atheism Tapes is a 2004 BBC television documentary series presented by Jonathan Miller. The material that makes up the series was originally filmed in 2003 for another, more general series, Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, but was too lengthy for inclusion. Instead, the BBC agreed to create The Atheism Tapes as a supplementary series of six programmes, each consisting of an extended interview with one contributor.


Through the Wormhole -  Did We Invent God?

Did God invent humanity? Or did we invent God? Since our brains are where we experience reality, does imagining God make God real? One neuroscientist is trying to find the answer by peering into the human mind, and seeing what God really looks like.


Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life

Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life is a three-part television documentary presented by Richard Dawkins which explores what reason and science might offer in major events of human lives. He argues that ideas about the soul and the afterlife, of sin and God's purpose have shaped human thinking for thousands of years. He believes science can provide answers to some of these old questions we used to entrust to religion.


GOD LOVES UGANDA

God Loves Uganda is a documentary film produced and directed by Roger Ross Williams, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It explores connections between evangelicalism in North America and in Uganda, suggesting that the North American influence is the reason behind the controversial Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, which at one point raised the possibility of the death penalty for gays and lesbians. The filmmakers follow a group of young missionaries from the International House of Prayer in their first missionary effort in another nation, as well as interviewing several evangelical leaders from the US and Uganda.


Richard Dawkins - Enemies of Reason

The Enemies of Reason is a two-part television documentary, written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in which he seeks to expose "those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell", including mediumship, acupuncture and psychokinesis.


RICHARD DAWKINS - FAITH SCHOOL MENACE?

Faith School Menace? is a television documentary presented by Richard Dawkins which explores the effects of faith schools on the students in them and society in general by taking examples in particular from UK faith schools, with the stated aim "to explore the balance of rights between a parent's right to educate a child in their own faith, and the children's rights to determine their own beliefs and approach the world with a genuinely open mind".

At the time of broadcast, one third of British schools had some kind of religious affiliation. Dawkins was refused entry to Catholic and Jewish faith schools, but was allowed to film in a Muslim school, where children were taught what the theory of evolution was, but that it was not true.


EXPOSURE - ISLAM'S NON-BELIEVERS

Made by award-winning film-maker Deeyah Khan, who also directed the acclaimed Jihad - A of the Others and Banaz: A Love Story for ITV, the programme finds that many young British ex-Muslims live in the shadows hiding their true beliefs, running huge risks if they ‘come out’ as atheists within their religious communities. Some of those who speak in the programme have asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

The film follows the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, a volunteer support group led by Iranian-born activist Maryam Namazie which supports ex-Muslims, often referred to as apostates or unbelievers, both in the UK and abroad. Maryam says: “They see us as people who are troublemakers, deviants, apostates and blasphemers… There is nothing, nothing more intolerant than religion.”


PRAYING FOR A CURE

Every society struggles to care for people with mental illness. In parts of West Africa, where psychiatry is virtually unknown, the chain is often a last resort for desperate families who cannot control a loved one in the grip of psychosis. Religious retreats, known as prayer camps, set up makeshift psychiatric wards, usually with prayer as the only intervention. Nine camps visited recently in Togo ranged from small family operations to this one, Jesus Is the Solution, by far the largest and most elaborate. But one organization is fighting for a new approach to treatment. This video was supported by The Global Reporting Centre. New York Times full article here.


GOOGLE: HOW TO KILL GOD

Google: How to Kill God is a documentary film by Daniel Ashton Lloyd and James Taylor-Meme that explores the relationship between the rise in internet accessibility and the decline of organised religion.



IN GOD'S NAME

Hard-line Christian activists are now mobilising believers in an attempt to make an impact on society nationally. Followers believe abortion and homosexuality should be illegal, there should be no sex before marriage and that the law of blasphemy should be strictly enforced. They say the Bible is the definitive word of God and is literally true and are intolerant of other faiths.

Filmmaker David Modell follows some of the leading members of Christian pressure groups as they attempt to win converts and convince MPs to base laws on Biblical beliefs in the UK.


Banaz: A Love Story

Banaz: A Love Story is a 2012 documentary film directed and produced by Deeyah Khan. The film chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in South London on the orders of her family in a so-called honour killing. The film received its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London September 2012.


JIHAD: a story of the others

JIHAD: a story of the others is a 2015 documentary film by Emmy and Peabody Award winning Norwegian director Deeyah Khan. The film is produced by Khan's production company Fuuse. JIHAD is the outcome of a two-year investigation by Deeyah and provides a view from the inside about what it is like to be drawn into radicalism. The documentary film sets out to provide an insight into why some young Muslims in the West embrace violent extremism and go abroad to fight holy wars and in some cases why they came to reject it.


THE VIRGIN DAUGHTERS

The Virgin Daughters explores the purity movement in America, where one girl in every six pledges to remain a virgin, or to save her first kiss, until her wedding day.

Award-winning documentary-maker Jane Treays investigates whether this decision is made by the girls themselves or their parents, and follows a group of fathers and daughters as they prepare to attend a purity ball in Colorado Springs, run by Randy Wilson and his wife Lisa.

Two things were striking to the outsider. The first was how young the girls were: Hannah, aged 11, was going to her fifth ball, having started at the age of seven. The second was the central role played by fathers: they squire the daughters to the ball, dance with them, receive fulsome tributes from them, and later on will be called on to vet any young man showing an interest.

According to Randy Wilson, the minister who organizes the Colorado Springs ball, the father is the significant individual in a young girl's life: He is everything.


FORCED TO MARRY

Forced to Marry was filmed, produced, and directed by Ruhi Hamid and narrated and presented by Saira Khan, begins with the dire statistics that each year thousands of girls from Britain are taken abroad and are forced to marry, many of them in Pakistan. In fact, Khan notes that more British people are forced into marriage in Pakistan than in any other country. In the documentary, Khan follows staff members Albert David, Neelam Farooq (both Pakistanis), and Theepan Salvaratnam (British Vice Consul) of a unit set up in Pakistan by the British Foreign Office which finds and rescues British girls in Pakistan who have been forced into marriages, in hopes of finding out why young British Pakistanis are being forced to marry.


JESUS CAMP

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Charismatic Christian summer camp, where children spend their summers being taught that they have "prophetic gifts" and can "take back America for Christ". According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and attempts to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community".

Jesus Camp debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 79th Academy Awards, the film was met with controversy that led to the closure of the camp.


THE MODEL AND THE MULLA

Qandeel Baloch was referred to as Pakistan’s ‘Kim Kardashian’. The story of her murder by her brother began with suggestive selfies with a prominent Muslim cleric.


The Islamic State

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it's not just the group's military victories that have garnered attention — it's also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State's expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.


UNDERCOVER MOSQUE

Undercover Mosque is a documentary programme which was first broadcast on 15 January 2007 in the UK. The documentary presents video footage gathered from 12 months of secret investigation into mosques throughout Britain. The documentary caused a furore in Britain and the world press due to the extremist content of the released footage. West Midlands Police investigated whether criminal offences had been committed by those teaching or preaching at the Mosques and other establishments.


MOTHER THERESA: HELL'S ANGEL

Hell’s Angel is a 1994 Channel 4 television documentary about Mother Teresa hosted by Christopher Hitchens, directed by Jenny Morgan, and produced by journalist Tariq Ali. The media’s credulous reporting on Mother Teresa started with a 1969 BBC documentary by Malcolm Muggeridge called Something Beautiful for God. It reported on Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Kolkata, India. Some parts of the documentary were successfully filmed in dark interior spaces and Muggeridge claimed that the ability to see details in the film was due to Mother Teresa’s “divine light.” However, the camera operator at the time, Ken McMillan, is interviewed and says the real explanation was that a new, higher-sensitivity film from Kodak was being used.

In 1991, Robin Fox, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet visited the Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and described the medical care the patients received as "haphazard". He observed that sisters and volunteers, some of whom had no medical knowledge, had to make decisions about patient care, because of the lack of doctors in the hospice. Fox specifically held Teresa responsible for conditions in this home, and observed that her order did not distinguish between curable and incurable patients, so that people who could otherwise survive would be at risk of dying from infections and lack of treatment.


MURDER IN GOD'S NAME

A documentary filmed in Pakistan that looks at the devastating impact of blasphemy allegations on the accused, what the use of the laws reveals about growing extremism and what hope there is for reform.


Prisoners of Tradition - Women in Afghanistan

In the 1960s and '70s, Afghanistan was becoming a modern country. Women went to universities and became professionals. All that changed when the Taliban took over and life for women became a throwback to the Middle Ages. In this short film you will meet a young woman who refused an arranged marriage only to be turned in by her own father while pregnant with another man’s child. The boy was born in prison and will likely grow up there, not knowing the inside of a school, the outside of a garden or playground and not able to have any resemblance of a “normal” life.


Afghanistan: No Country for Women

In war-torn Afghanistan it is not the Taliban that poses the greatest threat to women - it is their own families.Thirteen years after the fall of the Taliban, women in Afghanistan continue to suffer oppression and abuse. Research by Global Rights estimates that almost nine out of 10 Afghan women face physical, sexual or psychological violence, or are forced into marriage. In the majority of cases the abuse is committed by the people they love and trust the most - their families.

While shelters are trying to provide protection and legal help to some, many women return to abusive homes because there is no alternative. Unable to escape their circumstances, some are turning to drastic measures like self-immolation to end their suffering.


Afghanistan: The Girls of the Taliban

Kunduz in northern Afghanistan is the country's fifth largest city and home to more than 300,000 people. It was once a Taliban stronghold where women were deprived of their basic rights and education for girls was prohibited. Today, particularly in towns and cities, women can go outside without their husbands or fathers, they can work, and girls can attend school and even university. But with a new wave of privately run madrasas - or religious schools - being opened across the country, there is a growing feeling among women's rights groups that these freedoms are again under threat. There are now 1,300 unregistered madrasas in Afghanistan, where children are given only religious teaching. This is increasing fears among those involved in mainstream education.

"It's fine to go to madrasa to learn about sharia,
the Quran and Islam. But beyond that, they keep girls in total darkness like the blind. They keep them illiterate."
  - Zargul Azimi, teacher

Arguably the most controversial of these madrasas is Ashraf-ul Madares in Kunduz, founded by two local senior clerics, where 6,000 girls study full time. The girls attend the madrasa solely to study the Quran and the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. They are taught by male teachers, who they are forbidden from meeting face-to-face, and full hijab must be worn.

In The Girls of the Taliban, our cameras gain unprecedented access to film inside this madrasa, to meet with the girls and their families and to question the men behind it. (Source: Al Jazeera)


SAUDI ARABIA UNCOVERED

Human rights in Saudi Arabia, birthplace and heartland of Islam, are based on Islamic law, or the Sharia, under the rule of the Saudi Royal Family. It has been widely accepted that the application of these rights, more specifically women’s rights, is emblematic of Islamic dogma. It must be underlined, however, that the highly contentious theocratic ideology of Wahhabism, the monarchy’s official interpretation of Islam, plays an instrumental role in the formulation of many of these rights.

A shocking documentary uncovers the brutality of life in Saudi Arabia, showing people hanged from cranes and a woman being beheaded in the street. Called Saudi Arabia Uncovered, the film raises yet more questions over the UK government's continued "special relationship" with the Saudi monarchy, laying bare the regime's atrocious human rights record.

"Saudi Arabia is the world’s most gender-segregated nation, but amid changes now under way, multiple generations of women are debating how to be truly modern and truly Saudi. The litany of “only nation in the world” rules in Saudi Arabia is familiar by now, partly because it provides such provocative news fodder for disapproving outsiders: The only nation in the world that prohibits women from driving cars. The only nation that requires every adult female citizen to live under the supervision of a legally recognized male guardian, her father or husband or some other family member, who must grant formal permission before she can obtain a passport, complete certain legal matters, or travel abroad. The last nation, other than Vatican City, to grant women the vote, and women who lived more than walking distance from the sign-up sites needed men to chauffeur them there." (Text by Cynthia Gorney)


Women in Saudi Arabia - The Secret Revolution

The two filmmakers Gabriele Riedle and Carmen Butta spent several weeks in the desert kingdom and met some extraordinary women. Shrewd, diplomatic and persistent, their aim is to change the future for all women in their country. They can’t leave the house without being clothed from head to toe or drive a car, and they need the permission of a male guardian before they can either work or travel. But behind the veil, their anger is growing.

A new generation of women in Saudi Arabia is slowly bringing change to the strictly pious kingdom. More and more women in Saudi Arabia are taking up professions with a new self-confidence. Rasha Hefzi, for example, lives in Jeddah, where she was elected to the city council in December 2015. It was the country’s first ever election where women could both vote and stand as candidates themselves. At her first city council meeting, her conservative male colleagues refused to sit in the same room with her and tried to banish her behind a wall. But Rasha stood her ground. “They think they are protecting women by excluding us, keeping us away from their world, cocooning us and subordinating us to a male guardian, but this is not protection - this is a siege.”