ichannel is your destination for award-winning Canadian and international documentaries. Explore the frontiers of science and the outer limits of love and sexuality. Journey from the criminal underworld to the pinnacle of political power. Come face to face with the famous – and the infamous.
Wednesday December 11
There are 300 million people in the United States – and almost as many guns. The right to bear arms was embedded in the nation’s founding documents, and to this day Americans have a deep, complex and often troubling relationship with firearms. This documentary takes a penetrating look at the gun and its place in the American psyche, as seen through the eyes of ordinary people whose lives have been changed, for better or worse, by their encounters with guns – among them a former gang member, a policeman shot in the line of duty, and a suburban dad sharing a love of target shooting with his teenage daughters. Narrated by Peter Coyote, the hour-long film asks why people in the U.S. are so passionate about gun ownership, and poses unsettling questions about the true cost of America’s romance with such a deadly weapon.
ILLICIT: THE DARK TRADE
Thursday December 12
The knock-off Prada bag that you bought from a street vendor on your last trip to New York may seem innocuous enough – but it’s the tip of an iceberg: a shadowy underground economy that spans the globe, built on the illegal traffic in counterfeit goods, weapons, drugs, dirty cash – and human beings. According to some estimates, illicit trade globally is a $5-trillion business, accounting for as much as 10 percent of the world economy. And it’s been growing exponentially since the fall of the Communism and the rise of the Internet. This hour-long investigative documentary examines the astonishing power and reach of the illicit trade network, tracing connections that lead from warehouses of counterfeit designer goods in Hong Kong to mafia-controlled strongholds in the heart of Naples, Italy, and – in one particularly shocking passage – reveals how a phony medical shipment from rural China led to dozens of fatalities half a world away in Panama.
MOMENT OF DEATH
Friday December 13
Death: it’s the last thing you’ll ever do – and you’ll never get to tell anyone else what it’s like. As medical research reveals more and more about the process of dying, physicians face new and difficult questions regarding the boundary between life and death. What is the precise moment of death? Is it your last breath, or your last thought? Is it when your heart stops beating, or when you stop being you? This intriguing National Geographic documentary looks at how the scientific understanding of death has evolved, and shows some of the ways in which modern medicine can manipulate the moment of death to prolong life. Drawing on insights from doctors, bioethicists and authors such as Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers), the hour-long film probes the medical, ethical and philosophical questions associated with our definition of brain death, compares and contrasts various ways of dying, from electrocution to the guillotine (“instantaneous and painless”), and considers an unusual but persuasive explanation for the strange phenomenon of near-death experiences.
SCIENCE OF EVIL
Wednesday December 18
What is evil? Is it the product of damaged and abnormal minds? Or does the latent capacity for evil exist within each of us? Can science help to illuminate the nature of evil, or is it a phenomenon only philosophers and religious thinkers can comprehend? This National Geographic documentary takes a probing look at evil through the eyes of men and women who are struggling to understand where it comes from and how – or whether – it can be overcome. Among them: psychologist Philip Zimbardo, whose notorious Stanford prison experiment in 1971 revealed how situational forces can make ordinary people capable of extraordinary cruelty – a finding that took on new relevance more than 30 years later when the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib came to light; Christian minister Roy Ratcliff, who scandalized many of his Wisconsin congregation when he befriended and eventually baptized imprisoned serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer; Ivy League neuroscientists Jonathan Cohen and Joshua Greene, who are studying the human brain in an effort to determine where our sense of right and wrong comes from; and United Nations aid worker Aya Schneerson, whose experiences in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shown her just how easily our potential for evil can be unleashed in the face of poverty and war.
SCIENCE OF MEN
Thursday December 19
What is it that makes a man? In the womb, it’s the hormone testosterone that signals the body to build the characteristics that define the male of the species. To many people, testosterone is synonymous with rage and violence. But has testosterone gotten a bad rap? That’s one of the provocative questions posed by this documentary. Through studies on men of all ages, and on males of other species, from chimpanzees to fish, scientists are piecing together a clearer picture of how testosterone acts upon the body and mind – and how circumstances may affect a man’s ability to produce testosterone. Do more powerful and successful men have more testosterone? Does testosterone produce aggression, competitiveness and the drive for dominance – or could it be the other way around?
Friday December 20
On the front line of medical science’s hunt for killer viruses, a shocking discovery is made. Viruses, once thought to be a menace to humankind, may in fact be its ultimate creators. As this eye-opening National Geographic documentary reveals, researchers are discovering that broken shards and chunks of our DNA, once thought to be “junk,” are, in fact, remnants of ancient viruses. These findings suggest that viruses may have played a critical role in human evolution. How can an entity programmed for destruction help genetic diversity to flourish? And could viruses actually be setting the stage for the emergence of a new human species?