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Society & Culture

On Docs

Updated 15 days ago

Society & Culture
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Join Colin Ellis for this podcast on documentaries and the stories they tell. He'll introduce you to filmmakers who give us fascinating takes on people, perspectives and what it means to be human.

Read more

Join Colin Ellis for this podcast on documentaries and the stories they tell. He'll introduce you to filmmakers who give us fascinating takes on people, perspectives and what it means to be human.

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iTunes Ratings

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Average Ratings
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Cover image of On Docs

On Docs

Latest release on Nov 13, 2020

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Join Colin Ellis for this podcast on documentaries and the stories they tell. He'll introduce you to filmmakers who give us fascinating takes on people, perspectives and what it means to be human.

Rank #1: Ep. 3 - Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

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The team behind Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark is back with a new film that explores the ways human activity has fundamentally changed the planet. Colin sat down with filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky, and Nicholas de Pencier to discuss the massive impact we've had on the Earth. Guests: Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky, and Nicholas de Pencier. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Mercury Films Inc. in association with TVO/Anthropocene Films Inc./mongrelmedia.com

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 01 2018

23mins

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Rank #2: Ep. 4 - Who let the dogs out - and who really owns a song?

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Ben Sisto spent eight years in search of the original writer of the 1999 hit, "Who Let to the Dogs Out?" His quest is the subject of a new documentary. Host Colin Ellis spoke with Sisto about making the doc, and the answers he found.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 11 2019

27mins

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Rank #3: Ep. 7 - Escaping war to land at summer camp

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On Docs host Colin Ellis speaks to Michael Sladden, owner and director of Camp Pathfinder, about he decided to invite war-zone refugees to the camp and what it was like to have the project featured in a documentary.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 02 2019

32mins

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Rank #4: Ep. 1 - Think you know what propaganda is? Think again

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Everyone thinks they can recognize propaganda - and that they're immune to its influence. Filmmaker Larry Weinstein's latest documentary, Propaganda: The Art of Selling Lies, will make you reconsider.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 05 2019

29mins

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Rank #5: Ep. 2 - How can someone talk to a white supremacist?

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Filmmaker Deeyah Khan sat down with members of the white power movement in the United States to gain a better understanding of what motivates them to hate. She spoke with Colin about how she gained their confidence - and whether they have the capacity to change. Guest Deeyah Khan. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Fuuse Films

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Oct 25 2018

30mins

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Rank #6: Ep. 5 - Take Light

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What happens when a city can't keep the lights on? Filmmaker Shasha Nakhai tells Colin how the power grid affects life in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, where half the residents have no reliable access to electricity. Guest: Shasha Nakhai. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Storyline Entertainment/takelightfilm.com

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 15 2018

27mins

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Rank #7: Ep. 4 - The Fruit Machine

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Colin joins director Sarah Fodey and Canadian Armed Forces veteran Patti Gray for a special screening and discussion of The Fruit Machine, a TVO original documentary that explores Canada's campaign from the 1950s until the 1980s to purge LGBTQ people from the public service.
Guests: Sarah Fodey and Patti Grey. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: A TVO Original documentary produced by SandBay Entertainment

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Nov 08 2018

22mins

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Rank #8: Ep. 6 - Heartbound

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Colin speaks to anthropologist Sine Plambech and filmmaker Janus Metz, who spent 10 years documenting migration marriages in Denmark between Thai women supporting families back home and Danish men looking for companionship. Are migration marriages about love, or are they a convenient arrangement? Can they be both?
Guests: Sine Plambech and Janus Metz. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Magic Hour Films and Metz Film in co-production with Upfront Films, BALDR Film, Vilda Bomben Film and Film i Väst.

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Nov 22 2018

26mins

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Rank #9: Ep. 7 - First Contact

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You probably know someone you would call racist, but have you ever called them out? What would happen if you did? Vanessa Loewen and Stephanie Scott, the producers of First Contact, found out when they took six Canadians to Indigenous communities across the country.
Guest: Vanessa Loewen and Stephanie Scott. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: First Contact Canada Inc.

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Nov 29 2018

30mins

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Rank #10: Ep. 1 - Indigenous perspective on justice for Colten Boushie

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Colten Boushie was a 22-year-old Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation. Gerald Stanley is the white Saskatchewan farmer who shot and killed him when Boushie and a group of friends trespassed on his property one August afternoon in 2016.

That afternoon, and the second-degree murder trial that followed it, polarized the province. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard chronicled the family's story and situates it within a larger one - colonial violence, intergenerational trauma, and intergenerational resistance.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 21 2019

26mins

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Rank #11: Ep. 9 - The Invisible Heart

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Social-impact bonds - which see private investors fund government pilot programs - are a fast-growing trend internationally. When filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza first heard about them, in 2014, she was excited about the investment tool that aimed to marry capitalism with social change. Four years and a documentary film later, her thinking has changed. In this episode of On Docs, she sits down with Colin Ellis to explain why.

Guests: Nadine Pequeneza. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Courtesy of HitPlay Productions in association with TVO; Vince Guaraldi Trio/Fantasy Records/youtube.com.

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Dec 13 2018

30mins

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Rank #12: Ep. 8 - Min Sook Lee at The Reel Asian Film Festival

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Colin joins acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Min Sook Lee for a special screening of her 2005 film, Hogtown: The Politics of Policing, and a conversation about the overlapping roles of activism and documentary filmmaking.
Guest: Min Sook Lee. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Caitlin Plummer, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.
Credit: Min Sook Lee/National Film Board of Canada, Min Sook Lee/City State Productions Ltd., Min Sook Lee/TVO/Rogers Communications.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 06 2018

27mins

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Rank #13: Ep. 5 - If we knew then what we know now

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Michael Jackson. Bill Clinton. Lorena Bobbitt. If you lived through the '90s, chances are you know these names and know the stories behind them. But do you really? Host Colin Ellis and producers Matthew O'Mara and Chantal Braganza discuss Leaving Neverland and Lorena, two series that revisit two of the biggest scandals of the decade.

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Jun 18 2019

38mins

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Rank #14: Ep. 2 - Ai Weiwei on why the refugee crisis is borderless

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After releasing Human Flow, his 2017 documentary on the refugee crisis, artist and activist Ai Weiwei was left with 900 hours of footage - what he calls "the rest." This film wasn't just cutting-floor material. It shows the human face of what happens when war forces people to flee their homes, uprooting their families, lives, and futures. The Rest is Weiwei's second close-up at a growing crisis that he says implicates everyone across the globe: from refugees themselves, to the policymakers making it difficult for them to cross borders, to viewers just like us.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 28 2019

21mins

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Rank #15: Bonus Episode - And the Oscar for Best Documentary Goes To

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Awards season is here! Colin and producers Matt and Chantal discuss the five films up for best documentary feature at the 2019 Academy Awards: Free Solo, R.B.G., Minding the Gap, Of Fathers and Sons, and Hale County This Morning, This Evening. The trio talks about what made these docs compelling, where they fell short, and which one they think will take home Oscar gold.

Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Nikki Ashworth and Jonathan Halliwell, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.

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Feb 14 2019

27mins

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Rank #16: Ep. 10 - A Whale of a Tale: Life after The Cove

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In 2009, a documentary pointed the globe's attention to Taiji, a tiny town in coastal Japan where dolphin and whale hunting forms a major part of the fishing industry. The Cove went on to win an Oscar and inspire a new generation of anti-whaling activism. But what if the story around Japan's whaling culture isn't so black and white? Nearly a decade later, filmmaker Megumi Sasaki returned to Japan to explore the country's historical and cultural relationship with whaling and to document the effects The Cove has had on Taiji and its people.

Guests: Megumi Sasaki. Host: Colin Ellis, Producer: Chantal Braganza, Technical Producer: Matthew O'Mara, Production Coordinator: Jonathan Halliwell, Nikki Ashworth, Podcast Manager: Hannah Sung.

Credit: Courtesy of Fine Line Media

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Jan 17 2019

30mins

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Rank #17: Ep. 9 - Confronting the horrors of Iran's Evin Prison

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In this bonus episode of On Docs, actor and filmmaker Maryam Zaree joins host Colin Ellis to discuss her documentary, Born in Evin. The daughter of political dissidents, Zaree was born inside Iran's notorious prison. She and her mother fled to Germany as refugees when she was a child. The film, which follows her quest to find answers about her early years, was screened at the 17th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Toronto.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 06 2020

26mins

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Rank #18: Ep. 7 - Who gets to profit from Indigenous art?

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Host Colin Ellis speaks with Jamie Kastner, the director of There Are No Fakes, a TVO Original Documentary, about the legacy of famed Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau.

Credit: Cave 7 Productions

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Dec 17 2019

37mins

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Rank #19: Ep. 6 - In a war on drugs, who really loses?

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Host Colin Ellis speaks with Shawney Cohen and Rachel Browne about Rat Park, their new Vice Studios documentary about the global addiction crisis. Through the experiences of the United States, the Philippines, and Portugal, they examine the spectrum of federal drug policy, from a tough-on-crime approach to complete decriminalization.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 10 2019

34mins

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Rank #20: Ep. 2 - In war reporting, Robert Fisk always chooses a side

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Yung Chang's documentaries have looked at China's modernization, exotic fruit cultivators, and more. Now, in This Is Not a Movie, he turns his sights on Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper. Fisk has covered some of the region's most harrowing conflicts in his more-than-40-year career. Chang spoke to Colin Ellis on making a doc about someone with a controversial reputation, having a subjective point of view in journalism, Fisk's criticism of social media, and more.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 12 2019

37mins

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Ep. 7 - Hidden Figures in Video Game History

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The first video game was created in 1958 as a physics experiment. Now, video games are a multi-billion-dollar industry - a story covered in Netflix's "High Score." Gaming historian Kishonna Gray joins guest host Matthew O'Mara to discuss the little-known figures who pushed gaming forward, and why they've remained anonymous for so long.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 13 2020

28mins

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Ep. 6 - How to Protect a Neighbourhood

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In "There's No Place Like This Place, Anyplace," Lulu Wei tells the story of Honest Ed's - a store that once dominated the intersection of Bathurst and Bloor in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. What happened when the store and its surrounding area were sold off to a condo developer? Wei joins host Colin Ellis to discuss affordable housing, community consultation, and how to protect neighbourhoods.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 06 2020

27mins

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Ep. 5 - Chronicling Ontario's Most Notorious Punk Band

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In Picture My Face: The Story of Teenage Head, Douglas Arrowsmith chronicles one of Ontario's most notorious punk bands. While it's infamous for a riot at Ontario Place, Arrowsmith focuses on a more personal tragedy. He joins host Colin Ellis to discuss the death of Teenage Head's lead singer - and the mental health fallout for his bandmates.

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Oct 30 2020

31mins

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Ep. 4 - Reframing North America's Indigenous History

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Toppled statues, dismantled barricades, and burning buildings. The news cycle is forcing many non-Indigenous Canadians to grapple with the country's colonial history. Michelle Latimer joins host Colin Ellis to discuss reframing the commonly accepted story of Indigenous people in North America, which is the topic of her documentary, Inconvenient Indian.

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Oct 23 2020

22mins

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Ep. 3 - How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaking Up Polling

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What can a pollster learn from your Twitter feed? Colin Ellis speaks with Peter Gombos about his documentary Margin of Error, which explores how social media has become a critical resource for public-opinion polling - and the privacy concerns that entails. Then, Erin Kelly, president and CEO of Advanced Symbolics, argues that her company (and its artificial intelligence called Polly) is nothing to be afraid of.

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Oct 16 2020

45mins

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Ep. 2 – How Social Media Giants Run Your Life

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Who’s really in control when you open Twitter or Facebook? Ryerson professor and tech columnist Ramona Pringle joins host Colin Ellis to discuss Netflix’s The Social Dilemma — and the ways in which social media companies dictate our behaviour. 

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Oct 09 2020

40mins

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Ep. 1 - Is Corporate Social Responsibility a Sham?

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Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbott's 2003 documentary, The Corporation, argued that many corporations met the criteria of a psychopath. Years later, things have only gotten worse. The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel examines how corporations have rebranded as socially responsible - and looks at the grassroots organizations that are fighting back.

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Oct 02 2020

34mins

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Ep 13 - The Life and Architecture of Raymond Moriyama

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While you may not know Raymond Moriyama's name, there's a good chance you've been in one of his buildings. The Ontario Science Centre, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Canadian War Museum are just a few places that he's made his mark on as both architect and visionary. Scott Calbeck's documentary 'Magical Imperfection' looks at Moriyama's life through several events that defined who he is and inspired what he'd create.

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Aug 12 2020

26mins

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Bonus episode - When a movie is so bad it's good

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Alex West from The Faculty of Horror podcast returns to On Docs to discuss Best Worst Movie, a 2009 documentary about the low-budget film Troll 2. The comedy/horror movie has become a cult classic since its release in 1990, delighting audiences at midnight madness screenings with its poor acting, terrible dialogue and shoddy special effects.

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Jul 07 2020

18mins

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Ep. 12 - #onpoli and The Art of the Possible

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For the season finale of On Docs, we bring you TVO's first-ever podcast crossover! John Michael McGrath and Steve Paikin, hosts of the #onpoli podcast, join Colin Ellis to discuss The Art of the Possible, a groundbreaking NFB documentary from 1978. With unprecedented access to Premier Bill Davis and his Progressive Conservative government of the day, director Peter Raymont provided a behind-the-scenes look at how Ontario politics operated.

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Jun 30 2020

34mins

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Ep. 11 - The Satanic Temple's fight for religious freedom

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Alex West, author and co-host of The Faculty of Horror podcast, joins host Colin Ellis to discuss Hail Satan?, a documentary by filmmaker Penny Lane. The 2019 film looks at members of the Satanic Temple and its grassroots campaign to defend the separation of church and state. They also discuss misconceptions about Satanists, the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, and the role the devil plays in horror films.

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Jun 30 2020

29mins

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Ep. 10 - The importance of Ava DuVernay's 13th

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Colin Ellis speaks with Nam Kiwanuka, host of The Agenda in the Summer, about Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th. The 2016 film looks at the rise of mass incarceration in the U.S., from its roots in slavery through the Jim Crow era and beyond. They discuss how racism is still an uncomfortable subject for many to talk about, how racist portrayals of Black people in the media inform the way they're treated by the justice system, and why this problem isn't unique to the United States.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 23 2020

42mins

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Ep. 9 - Taking the temperature of health docs

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Host Colin Ellis welcomes health law researcher Timothy Caulfield to talk about the popularity of food and health documentaries and why people should approach them with a dose of scientific skepticism. Caulfield is the author of "The Science of Celebrity ... Or Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?"

Credit for clip from The Game Changers: ReFuel Productions/youtube.com

Credit for clip from What the Health: A.U.M Film & Media/youtube.com

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Jun 23 2020

33mins

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Ep. 8 - Blowing the whistle at Marineland

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Filmmaker Nathalie Bibeau talks with host Colin Ellis about her new doc, The Walrus and the Whistleblower, which features a former animal trainer who spoke up about alleged abuse at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont. She describes Phil Demers's uniquely close relationship with Smooshi, a captive walrus who had imprinted on him, his dream of being reunited with her, and his fight against the theme park, which is suing him for $1.5 million. The Walrus and the Whistleblower is streaming on CBC Gem.

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Jun 16 2020

31mins

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Ep. 7 - Why C3 is not your parents' church

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Filmmaker Ali Weinstein explains to host Colin Ellis how the C3 Global Church has found the secret formula to converting millennials into churchgoers: coffee, concerts, and community. Her documentary, #Blessed, follows pastor Sam Picken to examine C3's belief system, the politics around the church, and what happens when its initial promise of inclusion falls away. #Blessed is streaming at the Hot Docs Online Festival until June 14 and will air on CBC DOCS POV at 8 p.m. on July 18, 2020.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 09 2020

33mins

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Ep. 6 - Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell: A retrospective

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Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell joins host Colin Ellis to talk about his 1969 short film You Are On Indian Land. The documentary, made by the Indian Film Crew, an all-Indigenous unit at the NFB, documents a 1969 protest at Akwesasne. This episode delves into Mitchell's career in film and politics, the film's screening at Alcatraz prison, and why he was credited as the film's director in 2017.

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Jun 02 2020

28mins

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Ep. 5 - The long-term consequences of a wrongful arrest

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The 2010 G20 protest in Toronto was the site of the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, many of them unlawful. This is where director Martin Himel begins his documentary "The Arrest," which explores what happens to people in Ontario when they're wrongfully arrested and the fight that ensues when they try to clear their names. Clips from "The Arrest" are courtesy of Vigilance Productions Inc.

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May 26 2020

33mins

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Ep. 4 - Bruce Beach's plan to save the world

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Bruce Beach has a plan to save the world. Located in Horning's Mills, Ont., about 1.5 hours northwest of Toronto, Beach owns the largest privately-owned nuclear fallout shelter in the world. Director Paul Kell followed him for eight years while producing The Dawnsayer. His documentary looks into Bruce's complicated legacy, eccentricity and inventions, and success and failure.

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May 19 2020

28mins

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Ep. 3 - Is cell-based meat the future of food?

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Filmmaker Liz Marshall joins host Colin Ellis to discuss her latest documentary, "Meat the Future" which looks at some of the innovators behind cell-based meat. It's a process where animal tissue is used to make meat products without the need to slaughter animals or harm the environment. Does cell-based meat point the way towards a more sustainable future?

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May 12 2020

28mins

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Ep. 2 - Coppers: An arresting look at retired cops

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Host Colin Ellis speaks with filmmaker Alan Zweig, whose TVO Original documentary Coppers takes an unflinching look at the lives of retired police officers. They discuss how Zweig's former work as a cabbie informed his approach to his subjects and how police officers often suffer in silence.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 05 2020

23mins

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