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Mainstream - Press Release - CBC and CBC Newsworld Documentaries January 2008

Press Release:

Is America Ready For A Black President? And other documentaries on CBC and CBC Newsworld January 2008

Barack Obama has become a political sensation, a rock star of sorts attracting throngs of supporters in his campaign to become the next President of the United States. He promises to unite America with his campaign focussing on change, but can he win the black vote?

While Obama has gained a number of white supporters, some African-Americans, including civil rights activist Al Sharpton, argue that Obama takes a cautious stance on racial issues to appeal to white voters, and may not be able to carry the black vote.

Airing on CBC NEWS: THE PASSIONATE EYE, Sunday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on CBC Newsworld, Is America Ready for a Black President? examines whether Barack Obama can rise above America's racial divisions and appeal to enough white and black voters to win the Democratic nomination. In this timely documentary, BBC reporter Hilary Andersson discovers strong support for Obama in the wealthy white suburbs of Chicago, but when she travels to South Carolina (where the Democratic primary takes place Jan. 26), she learns the black community is not 100% behind him.

Viewers will also hear from political psychologist Drew Westen who describes Obama as "every white person's fantasy... about what they'd like a black man to be," explaining that Obama is "thoughtful, articulate and doesn't fit into any of the stereotypes of dark- skinned black males seen on television."

The latter half of this documentary special will feature a discussion about the role race is playing in the election, hosted by CBC News anchor Andrew Nichols.

THE PASSIONATE EYE presents a series of Sundance Film Festival documentaries in honour of this year's festival, which launches Thursday, Jan. 17. In this year's Sundance Film Festival, CBC Newsworld has a Canadian film in competition - Up the Yangtze. Set against the backdrop of China's mighty Yangtze River and the controversial Three Gorges Dam project, it explores life inside modern China through the experiences of two young people who work on a Yangtze River cruise ship.

Up the Yangtze is directed by Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang and co-produced by Eye Steel Films in Montreal and the National Film Board of Canada in association with CBC Newsworld & Radio-Canada. The documentary will premiere on CBC Newsworld on Sunday, March 30 on THE PASSIONATE EYE.

Born Into Brothels - Sundance & Academy award winner airs on THE PASSIONATE EYE Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Described as "moving, charming and sad" (New York Times), Born Into Brothels profiles the most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red-light district--not the prostitutes, but their children. It illustrates how these children's lives are transformed when they start taking photographs of their life in the stark and impoverished brothels. Photography becomes an emotional outlet, and for some, an escape.

Born Into Brothels was produced and directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. It won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2005, as well as the Audience Choice Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire - winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. It airs commercial-free on Monday, Jan. 21 on THE PASSIONATE EYE at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire tells the provocative story of Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, whom the United Nations assigned the insurmountable task of ensuring that peace was maintained in Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide. General Dallaire's command of this mission led to his own personal life tragedies as he dealt with the fallout of the experience.

Produced and directed by renowned Canadian filmmaker Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures in association with the CBC & THE PASSIONATE EYE, Shake Hands with the Devil is based in part on General Dallaire's best-selling book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda and was filmed during General Dallaire's poignant return to the Rwandan killing fields in April 2004 - the 10th anniversary of the genocide.

The Prince of Pot: The U.S. vs. Marc Emery airs on CBC NEWS: THE LENS, Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Cannabis activist Marc Emery, a.k.a "The Prince of Pot," faces years in prison if he's extradited to face trial in the United States. His extradition hearing begins on Monday, Jan. 21 in Vancouver.

No Canadian has ever gone to jail for selling seeds and, in 35 years, only two people have been charged - the last got a $200 fine. Yet Emery could be sentenced to a life term if found guilty in a U.S. courtroom.  He is currently trying to negotiate a complicated deal to end his legal battle with U.S. and Canadian authorities. 

The Prince of Pot: The U.S. vs. Marc Emery follows Emery through the summer and fall as he plots his defence, attends court hearings and tries to clear the names of his two friends who now face the same fate as him.

The Prince of Pot: The U.S. vs. Marc Emery is directed by Nick Wilson and produced by Anne Pick, Real to Reel Productions (Toronto). It was commissioned by CBC Newsworld.

Why do fierce Rogue Waves strike in seemingly calm seas? Rogue Waves airs on WILD DOCS!, Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Rogue waves have caused some of the world's worst naval disasters. These destructive forces are not to be confused with tsunamis or tidal waves, and are not caused by earthquakes or landslides. They are massive, towering walls of water that rise from within the sea and offer no warning to those at their mercy and have baffled scientists for centuries. 

Rogue Waves is a one-hour documentary that combines the dramatic tales of rogue wave disasters over the course of history, with scientific investigation and groundbreaking technology to help us better understand their nature. Through the use of wave tanks and satellite images, Rogue Waves gives viewers insight into the origins of this powerful, unstoppable force and the means scientists are using to better forecast them before disaster strikes.

So Much So Fast - a Sundance Festival hit in 2006 and winner of the Prix Italia, airs Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on THE PASSIONATE EYE on CBC Newsworld. 

What would you do if you were 29 and found you may only have a few years to live?

So Much So Fast chronicles the remarkable events set in motion when Stephen Heywood discovered he had the paralyzing Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). When asked what he would do differently in the five years since his diagnosis, Heywood replied, "Have more sex on film."

Filmed over five years, So Much So Fast tracks one family's ferocious response to an orphan disease that plagues their loved one: the kind of disease drug companies ignore because there's not enough profit in curing it. With no medical background, Stephen's brother Jamie sets up a guerrilla-science research group and in two years grows it from three people in a basement to a multi-million dollar ALS facility, the largest anywhere.  Finding a drug in time to save his brother becomes Jamie's all-consuming obsession.

Stephen has a remarkable attitude towards his debilitating diagnosis: "You can't live every day like it's your last." Instead, he gets married, has a son and rebuilds two houses.  He and his wife Wendy's laser-like observations of the world and their predicament go to the heart of the fragility of being alive.

So Much So Fast makes tangible the bonds between parents and children, husbands and wives, and siblings who are also best friends - bonds that withstand unimaginable pressure. The film is produced and directed by Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan.

Avalanche: The White Death airs on THE PASSIONATE EYE, Monday, Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

According to the Canadian Avalanche Centre, this past year Canada has experienced the deadliest beginning to the avalanche season on record. As of January 2008, there have been 10 fatalities since the start of the avalanche season.

Avalanche: The White Death tells the stories of some of those lucky enough to escape this feared mountain phenomenon. Hear first-hand accounts from survivors of avalanches around the world. The film takes viewers to Nepal, Austria, Utah and Alaska to reveal the catastrophe and horror of being caught in the path of such a force of nature.

Although this awesome natural phenomenon can rarely be stopped, scientists are learning new ways of predicting and safely triggering avalanches in a controlled manner.  In addition to this, mountain awareness is beginning to be taught to winter sports enthusiasts. 

24 Days in Brooks airs on THE LENS, Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

A bitter strike at a massive Alberta meatpacking plant helps three African workers find out what is means to be Canadian.

Lakeside Packers is one of the world's largest slaughterhouses. Here, Sa-Eva Katusevanako spends his working hours repetitively picking bits of bone and fat out of meat. Trained as a diplomat in his native Congo, he is one of thousands of immigrants and refugees who have come to tiny Brooks, Alberta to work at the plant.

Centering on the 24 days of the first-ever strike at Lakeside, 24 Days in Brooks is a nuanced portrait of people working together and adapting to change. They are people like Peter Jany Kwai, who escaped war in Sudan, wears an African shirt and a cowboy hat, and affirms his Canadian identity as well as his determination to fight for his rights. Or Edil Hassan, a devout Muslim born in Somalia, who counts her hours of organizing and picketing among of her proudest moments.

Canada's urban centres have had decades to adapt to multiculturalism, but it arrived suddenly in Brooks. Director Dana Inkster's 24 Days in Brooks shows people from widely different backgrounds can work together for respect, dignity, and change - even though getting there is not easy.

24 Days in Brooks was produced by Bonnie Thompson (National Film Board of Canada - Northwest Centre) and is a winner of the Reel Diversity Competition, an NFB initiative in partnership with CBC Newsworld.

Human Voltage: Struck By Lightning, airs Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WILD DOCS! on CBC Newsworld.

Travelling faster than a speeding bullet and burning five times hotter than the surface of the sun, lightning can strike humans dead and unexpectedly. Explore the science behind the deadly and mysterious occurrence in Human Voltage: Struck By Lightning.

The film follows the stories of three lightning strike victims - one a recent victim and two others plagued with unusual long-term consequences.

Tim Samaras, a storm chaser uses a one-ton camera to take viewers into the heart of a lightning storm to capture a whole new picture of lightning.  Human Voltage: Struck By Lightning also explores new discoveries in lightning science and innovative brain imaging technology to find out what really happens when lightning strikes the human body.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - in competition at Sundance in 2005- airs Sunday, Feb. 3 on THE PASSIONATE EYE at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, winner of the best documentary writing award from the Writers Guild of America for writer/director Alex Gibney, tells the story of the notorious scandal behind the crash of the energy company. The documentary takes on the daunting topic of shredded documents, private equity funds and false accounting and turns it into something eminently compelling.

Based on the book The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, the documentary focuses on the human and inhumane aspects of the company's collapse.



Is America Ready for a Black President?

Sunday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on



Born Into Brothels

Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on THE PASSIONATE EYE


Shake Hands with the Devil: The

Journey of Romeo Dallaire

Monday, Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on THE PASSIONATE EYE


The Prince of Pot: The U.S. vs. Marc Emery

Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on THE LENS

Rogue Waves

Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WILD DOCS!

So Much So Fast

Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on



Avalanche: The White Death

Monday, Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on


24 Days in Brooks

Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on


Human Voltage: Struck By Lightning

Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WILD DOCS!

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Sunday, Feb. 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on



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