Everything about The Nature of Things, eh?

Link: Secrets From The Ice Proves Of Things Still Thriving

From James Bawden:

Link: Secrets From The Ice Proves Of Things Still Thriving
I well remember a conversation not so long ago when a head CBC programmer mused about canceling The Nature Of Things after its 50th season on air.

Well, that programmer has long departed while NOT is enjoying one of its best ever seasons ever. And if you don’t believe me tune in Sunday night at 8 for Secrets From The Ice. Continue reading. 


Link: Into The Fire Burns With Intensity

From James Bawden:

Link: Into The Fire Burns With Intensity
“I’d started the research and then the B.C. wildfires raged. There had been Fort McMurray –an entire city of 90,000 ravaged –the human tragedies were huge. I also wanted to hook into the people who spend their lives studying fires. And there are a lot of them out there. The fires are getting bigger. It’s important to understand the science. I was told each rise in temperature of just 1 degree means a 12 fold increase in lightning.” Continue reading.


The Nature of Things unveils Lost Secrets of the Pyramids

The world’s fascination with how ancient people lives continues unabated. I’ve followed the stories of mummies and Egypt since I was young and have never lost that interest. So I was particularly excited to see The Nature of Things would be devoting an hour to digging deep into the latest finds in “Lost Secrets of the Pyramid.”

Airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC, David Suzuki travels to Egypt where the desert continues to offer tantalizing clues as to what life at the time of Khufu was like. The Pharoah, who ruled during the fourth dynasty of the Old Kingdom period, commanded his people construct the Great Pyramid. It took 25 years to build and was made of over 2 million stones. When finished, the massive monument to Khufu was a shimmering limestone beacon that could be seen from miles away. But how was it made? New advancements in technology and some key finds have given clues as to how.

“The pyramids are the last of the ancient wonders that are still accessible,” says James Hyslop, president of Alibi Entertainment. “The pyramids are real, you can see them, and over 4,000 years of man and nature have failed to blunt their dominance in mythology and culture. The more that we discover about the pyramid, it increases the magnitude and the marvel, scope and scale of what is essentially a death chamber for a king.” Alibi Entertainment (The Baker Sisters, Titanic: The New Evidence), along with Windfall Films and Handel Productions are presenting the Canadian-UK production written, directed and produced by Gwyn Williams.

Suzuki, who filmed for five days on the Giza plateau, consults with experts, scientists and archaeologists Mark Lehner and Mohamed Abd El-Maguid in Cairo to uncover how the pyramid was constructed and the massive community that sprang up around it. New evidence—presented via CGI imagery, 3D computer models and drones—recreates an intricate barracks system used to house workers while a support group kept them fed. Suzuki meets with Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, who uncovers interesting information recounted on the walls of the home owned by Khufu’s high priest, Imery.

Some of the most stunning footage captured in the episode is the discovery of a boat meant to transfer Khufu into the next world. Its simple construction out of wood and rope confirmed boats were used on the Nile at the time and hinted at how the massive stone blocks used to create the Great Pyramid were transported to the build site.

“When the archaeologists and Egyptologists had determined that the boat was held together by rope, the challenge we thought would be really compelling … would be to see if we could recreate or rebuild a boat that was strong enough and seaworthy enough to carry a block of limestone to the site,” Hyslop says. “Truthfully, when we dropped it into the water, everybody was concerned if it was going to float, let alone when we put a three-ton block on it.”

The Nature of Things’ “Lost Secrets of the Pyramid” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC; taken by Gwyn Williams.




CBC’s inspiring Sickboy celebrates laughing in the face of deadly disease

“If all of us are affected by illness in some way, then why can’t we just talk about it?” That’s the question put forth by Jeremie Saunders, who aims to get people doing just that in “Sickboy.”

Airing as part of CBC Docs POV—the rebranding of Firsthand—Dream Street Pictures’ “Sickboy” follows 29-year-old Jeremie (he’s in the centre of the picture above) as he lives life on borrowed time. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and told he wouldn’t live past 25, Jeremie literally laughs in the face of disease and seeks to discuss it with friends, family and the world via the Sickboy podcast that aims to alter the way people view serious illnesses like cancer, depression, PTSD and epilepsy.

Written and directed by Andrew MacCormack, “Sickboy” begins on Jeremie’s 29th birthday, as he reflects on the fact that—according to what doctors told his parents when he was a baby—he should already be dead. But, rather than let the fact cystic fibrosis—mucous buildup in the lungs causing scarring in the organs that will eventually kill him—the Halifax native prefers to celebrate every day he has with optimism, discussion and, most importantly to him, laughter. See, Jeremie believes laughing at cystic fibrosis keeps it at bay and takes away its power over him.

Then it’s off to meet Jeremie’s two friends, Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivray, in the studio recording Sickboy podcast, where the trio invite others on to talk about being diagnosed and living with disease or sickness. But, as Taylor points out, the point of the podcast isn’t to speak to the illness one has, but the individual experience with the illness. For podcast guest Carole, that means describing waking up from an epilleptic seizure half out of an elevator with the door bumping up against her. For Jeremie, that means fully embracing YOLO—you only live once—to the max.

It’s not all fun and laughs, however. MacCormack captures serious, sobering moments too: Jeremie opens what looks like bags of groceries to reveal the dozens of bottles of medication he takes to keep cystic fibrosis at bay, the hacking coughing sequences are heartwrenching, and the first frank talk about CF with his wife, Bryde. Some of the most touching sequences are between Brian and his mother, who open up about her cancer diagnosis, and how the deaths of two friends of the podcast shatter the trio.

“Sickboy” is educational, entertaining and, most importantly, inspiring to watch; I’ve already subscribed to the podcast and look forward to the conversations Jeremie, Brian, Taylor and their guests have.

“Sickboy” airs as part of CBC Docs POV this Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBC. Listen to the Sickboy podcast.




The Nature of Things returns with stunning “The Wild Canadian Year”

It’s no secret that I love documentaries. No matter how jam-packed my days and nights are, I can always find time for another doc. The best is not only educational but beautifully filmed, impeccably scored and wholly entertaining. That’s certainly the case for “The Wild Canadian Year,” the five-part documentary kicking off the newest season of The Nature of Things on CBC.

Moving to Sundays at 8 p.m. this fall, “The Wild Canadian Year” is the perfect way to start the long-running series’ season. Filmed by award-winning documentary filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner of River Road Films, “The Wild Canadian Year” turns cameras on this country’s wildlife during the four seasons (the fifth episode is a making of). It all begins Sunday with spring, as Arctic fox pups take their first steps and black bear cubs learn to climb trees after the long cold days of winter while female caribou make the dangerous trek to reach their calving grounds.

With 4K ultra-high definition providing the visuals and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra the soundtrack, “The Wild Canadian Year” truly is a spectacle. I don’t have 4K in my home, but watching a screener of Episode 1, I can only imagine how incredible this project looks. My laptop’s retina screen captured amazing detail—droplets of water as part of a thunderous waterfall, the nostril flare of a seal, the feathers on a hummingbird—so the better the screen the more breathtaking this will appear.

A spectacular 75 stories were recorded in Canada’s provinces and territories for the series, beginning Sunday with a caribou herd in northern Quebec that treks far north while the area’s lakes and rivers are still frozen. The animals follow each other, creating a beaten path that expends far less energy than breaking new ground. That energy store is needed at a moment’s notice: the pack is constantly hunted by hungry wolves.

Fauna isn’t the only thing to be focused on in “The Wild Canadian Year.” The thundering Hay River is explored next, as thick ice plunges over a waterfall creating into the vicious tumult below. Then it’s to the boreal forest of the east where a truly fascinating thing is documented. Cameras show the rebirth of a tree frog, frozen solid during the winter months thanks and revived during the snow melt. The camera work is so detailed you can see cataracts of ice over each eyeball and its first breath of the new year.

“The Wild Canadian Year” is the stunning result of nature and technology combining for stellar storytelling set to a magnificent soundtrack. Don’t miss it.

The Nature of Things returns Sunday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. on CBC with “The Wild Canadian Year.”

Images courtesy of CBC.