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Zembla: Dry Eyed

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GP Michael Brouwer wears glasses, but he would prefer to do without, which is why he has his eyes lasered. After his operation he is in so much pain that he doesn’t know how to go on with his life. It feels as if someone is continuously poking in his eyes with a knife. It turns out that Brouwer has developed nerve pain, a rare but debilitating complication, about which he was not forewarned.

Gardens of Wonder

In the most extraordinary landscape parks art and nature merge. Ernst Veen, old museum director of the “Nieuwe Kerk” (New Church) and the Hermitage in Amsterdam, makes his dream come true with the six-part television series Gardens of Wonder. In a quest around the world Veen visits impressive sculpture gardens full with spectacular art objects of internationally renowned artists, like Anish Kapoor, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Damien Hirst, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson.

Infernal Pain

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Infernal Pain is an intimate documentary about a man whose life is completely turned upside down by chronic pain and desperately searches for pain relief. His quest takes him to a renowned pain specialist who is trying to get the pain under control with neurostimulation.

Chasing a Million

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Can you make a fortune by swapping one thing for another? Albert and Stefan believe it can be done. They start their experiment with a free rabbit from a second-hand goods website. What follows is an unusual and highly unpredictable adventure. Within three years – and against all odds – they swap to a luxurious appartment on a ski-slope in Southern Germany.

In Procedure

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A Syrian father flees to the Netherlands, to save his young daughter who is seriously ill. The long wait during the asylum procedure delays the daughters’ hope for recovery and this makes him desperately doubt his decision to flee Syria.

Backlight: Still Berning

Bernie Sanders lost the primaries to nominate a US presidential candidate for the Democratic Party to Hillary Clinton. But it was a glorious loss. And it has become a beginning, not an end. The end of the Bernie Sanders campaign marks the start of a political movement. What are the next steps for this movement and what role will it play in future elections? What is its staying power? And how can a new political generation bring democracy back into the hands of the people and make it truly representative?

Miss Kiet’s Children

Kiet Engels is the kind of teacher you’d wish for every schoolchild. She is strict but never harsh. She is loving but never soft. Her patience is endless.

Miss Kiet’s pupils have only just arrived in the Netherlands. Many of them are refugees. Everything is new for them and confusing. 

Mies goes to Hollywood

‘Mies goes to Hollywood’ tells the story of Mies (11) who knows one thing for sure: she will become a famous actress. Mies is fortunate to have a successful director as her father; the relocation of her family from Amsterdam to Hollywood is the chance for Mies to pursue that dream. And she grabs it with both hands: she indulges in her new, sunny, Californian life, with big Hollywood mansions and swimming pools. With the help of a manager, coaches, dance classes and auditions she does everything she can to succeed. But she must also learn the language, do a lot of homework, make new friends and go to the orthodontist. Will Mies be able to realize her dream of becoming an actress?

My Matthäus

‘My Matthäus’ is a film about impassioned amateur performers singing Bach’s Matthäus Passion. Their intimate stories about separation, suffering and consolation bring the Biblical themes back to human measures. The choirboy with a cracking voice, the man whos’ life is centering on getting older and saying goodbye, and the woman who found comfort in singing after a great personal loss. All individuals have their own connection to the Matthäus Passion. Their moving stories combined with the music as its décor make it hard to ever listen to the Matthäus in the same way again.

Zembla: Dangerous Play

Since 2009, American soccer trainer Amy Griffin has kept a record of players who played on artificial turf filled in with rubber granules and got cancer. She fears there may be a link between the disease and this material made of old car tyres. Today there are 230 players on her list.

Music on the run

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Abandoned by the world, a clear male voice comes from the ‘Jungle of Calais’. He sings, full of melancholy: “I am here, but my soul is at the other side of the ocean.” There isn’t a better way to describe the hopeless state of mind of thousands of refugees in the most well known refugee camp Calais in France. Their hope for a better future turns into fear, despair and apathy. What’s left is music. Out of protest, solidarity or sadness. The camera of renowned filmmaker Frans Bromet observes and registers the refugees and their music up until the moment the camp is closed down. Singing brings back dignity and humanity to people when almost everything is lost.

Backlight: Justice for all

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Access to justice: for four billion out of the just over seven billion people on earth this is too expensive, too complicated, blocked by corruption, or simply not available. Lawyers working for the Dutch government devote themselves to the digital innovation of the legal industry. Surprisingly enough, Kenya is a trendsetter in this respect. Under the inspiring guidance of Supreme Court Judge Willy Mutunga, and with the aid of text messaging, smartphones and Twitter, a countrywide network of apps and legal volunteers is built. Injustice is combatted with cell phones instead of law degrees.

Living at the end of the world: Floortje in Nepal

Living at the end of the world is a documentary-style series about people living by choice in remote places in what seems to be the end of the world. In each episode the experienced traveller and reporter Floortje Dessing makes the often long and difficult journey to reach these people to see how they are living and to find out why they have chosen to live under these often difficult circumstances.

A Haunting History

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After studying in England, the young and ambitious lawyer Anuol, returns to his homeland South Sudan. Haunted by his own violent past and committed to fighting against human rights violations, he believes that the law will be his only true guide to bring sustainable peace to the country. But his western education clashes with the minds of his fellow countrymen. While Anuol strongly believes in the healing power of justice by convictions, others think it best to lay the past to rest. Desperately trying to convince his countrymen that there is no reconciliation without justice, Anuol finds himself on the verge of a breakdown.

Backlight: Invasion of the Drones

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They fly in swarms, deliver packages and can be as small as insects. Drones are much more than the weapons used by the US Army against terrorists. We see them fly more often and they pop up everywhere in our lives. In the USA, over one million drones were found as toys underneath the Christmas trees.

Argos TV: A Sea of Pictures

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In 2015, almost 4000 boat refugees drown during their crossing to Europe. We only know the name of one of them: Aylan Kurdi. On September 2, the photograph of a toddler washed up on the beach in Bodrum went viral on social media. One day later it headlined newspapers worldwide. Media call the photograph iconic and politicians have used the image of the drowned infant for their own grandstanding. Supporters and opponents alike have tried to embrace Aylan as a symbol for a more generous refugee policy. Six months later, Medialogica wonders: what is the significance of such a picture in the refugee debate?

Backlight: Offline is the New Luxury

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To be online all the time and everywhere. It sounds great, but it has its drawbacks. As digital networks are closing in, there are fewer places to be really on your own. Being offline is becoming a luxury. Where can you be offline? For those who, from time to time, wish to escape smartphone and Wi-Fi signals, VPRO introduces the international White Spots App http://white-spots.net/ (only downloadable in the Netherlands).

Backlight: Next Stop Istanbul

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With neighbouring Syria in ruins and stricken by a civil war, Turkey keeps its borders closed in exchange for billions of euros from the European Union. Many Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans have managed to cross the porous borders and are now in Istanbul, the gateway to Europe. Will they stay there or is crossing to Europe too irresistible?

Forget me not

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In the documentary Forget me not we are introduced to a special primary school. The pupils of this school are children of rejected asylum seekers. The School principal and the teachers do all they can to give them the best possible education. Yet each morning they worry that one of their pupils may have been forced to leave the country.

Zembla: Dutch Roses from Ethiopia

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One of the world’s largest rose producers is located in Ethiopia, the Dutch company Sher. Every day, Sher produces between 3 and 4 million roses for the European market. The roses carry the Fairtrade label, an international certificate for fair and sustainable products. Zembla travels to Africa and investigates how ‘fairly’ the roses are produced.

Mission Beirut

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The Dutch embassy in Lebanon, under the leadership of Hester Somsen, has the difficult mission to encourage the stability in a country where ISIS is rattling at the gates, where the gouvernment is disfunctional and where the huge stream of refugees from neighbouring country Syria undermines the country and introduces problems of radicalisation.

The Girl of 672k

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The Girl of 672k is a coming of age film about the imaginative  Annegien (15), whose creative talents draw ample attention in the virtual landscape of YouTube and Instagram. Her personal and artistic photographs on her Instagram account Fetching_tigerss reach over 672,000 followers, something most Youtubers can only dream of.

Backlight: The Breakthrough in Renewable Energy

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You won’t read about it in the papers, but a silent worldwide revolution is taking place: renewable energy is becoming cheaper than energy from fossil fuels. More and more, opting for wind and solar energy is no longer an ethical choice but an economic one. This will speed up the transfer to renewable energy.

Backlight: Cyberjihad

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Jihadists are fighting a war on social media. The propaganda they spread is getting ever more professional. Which virtual weapons will ISIS deploy to radicalise young people in the West? Why do young Europeans fall for ‘the medieval reality show’ of ISIS?