Tag Archives: David Suzuki

The Power of Play world premiere on January 20 as part of The Nature of Things

From a media release:

Did you ever see an octopus play? How about a kangaroo frolic with a deer? A hamster riddled with social anxiety? Researchers are finding some astounding evidence that all living things – from fish to humans – not only like to play, but they need it for survival. The new episode of The Nature of Things – The Power of Play, explores why this is especially crucial in children, as more young Canadians spend less time outdoors and more time indoors focused on screens.

The Power of Play is a one-hour documentary that explores the science behind play and reveals how researchers are linking play deprivation to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The documentary will have its world broadcast premiere on CBC’s THE NATURE OF THINGS on Sunday, January 20 at 8 P.M. (8:30 NT) and will also be available to stream on CBC Gem from 5 p.m. ET on Friday, January 18.

The documentary takes viewers to research labs, zoos, and aquariums around the world to see how animals play, who they play with, and what happens when they are prevented from playing. McMaster University’s Jonathan Pruitt found out that a species of female social spiders that “play” sexual intercourse live longer. Sergio Pellis, a behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge explains how he came to the conclusion that play deprivation causes depression in lab rats. It’s something American psychiatrist Stuart Brown suspected when he studied violent offenders in the United States. Pellis and Brown are among a growing number of experts who are convinced that unstructured play is vital to our mental health and well being.

Other experts, including Vancouver’s Mariana Brussoni and Norway’s Ellen Sandseter are leading a movement to return to risky play which involves some level of danger. A visit to an outdoor childcare centre in Norway shows the resilient, rosy-cheeked children benefiting from playing outside all day in a space with no fences and almost no limits.

The Power of Play was written and directed by Halifax’s Christine MacLean, created and produced by Erin Oakes, and executive produced by Edward Peill from Halifax-based Tell Tale Productions Inc. It was produced in association with the CBC / Radio-Canada with support from the Canada Media Fund, The Nova Scotia Film & TV Production Incentive Fund, and Federal Tax Credits.

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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.

 

 

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The Nature of Things explores the lives of “Pompeii’s People”

I’ve been fascinated with the story of Pompeii from a young age. A town full of people and animals who were overrun by the ash from an erupting volcano? It set my imaginative mind reeling. It still does, so I was jazzed to learn it was the focus of The Nature of Things‘ season return on Thursday.

“Pompeii’s People” follows host David Suzuki—who first visited the site 43 years ago on his honeymoon—as he is given unprecedented access to the Roman town, exploring the importance of the location to the Empire and the lives of its people buried under volcanic ash in 79 AD after Mount Vesuvius erupted.

Technology plays a huge part in the project, as aerial photography,  dramatic recreations, CGI and other scientific applications peel back the layers of volcanic matter to reveal a stunning, and surprisingly relatable way of life. Handel Productions and Twofour Group do an incredible job not just recreating the story behind the demise of the 12,000 residents located in the coastal town near Naples, but focusing on the well-off and working class folks walking the cobbles. No stone is unexplored, as footage includes an analysis of roadways and a warren of one-way streets and homes are digitally reconstructed to show warmly painted walls, frescoes and skylights in ceilings. Suzuki is welcomed into the former home of a fish sauce merchant, who adorned his property with mosaics of his product, showing a knack for advertising more than 1,500 years before Mad Men.

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Next up on Suzuki’s walk is the forum, where public areas offered citizens a place to converse, play games, buy goods from the open-air market or worship at the Temple of Jupiter.

The most interesting part of Thursday’s return for me was the recreation of Pompeii’s people. I think everyone has seen pictures of the plaster casts of the dog, woman and child, and man, all frozen in time and contorted after being buried in ash. Now computers are digitally removing the plaster and x-rays reveal the bones to understand what Pompeians looked like, what they ate and how they lived. It’s particularly stunning to see how the vaguely human form of a dead soldier is transformed by technology into a young man.

Also analyzed: the rearing of animals and livestock, what garbage says about what Pompeians ate and the role of sex in their society. Informative, educational and entertaining, “Pompeii’s People” is well worth checking out.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

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The Nature of Things celebrates David Suzuki’s 80th birthday

I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I spoke to David Suzuki. Back in 2010, we chatted about Force of Nature, Sturla Gunnarson’s documentary about the things that shaped Suzuki’s career. Force of Nature marked the longtime Nature of Things host’s 75th birthday; now here we are ringing in Suzuki’s 80th on March 24 with another peek behind the curtain at his life.

Co-written and directed by Daniel and Donna Zuckerbrot of Reel Times Images, “Suzuki @ 80″—airing Thursday during The Nature of Things—not only spotlights the man and his exploits but talks to those who know him intimately.

Rather than re-trace old ground covered in Force of Nature—Suzuki’s childhood, education and lab work—”Suzuki @ 80″ spends the bulk of its time aiming the lens at his family, including daughters Sarika, Severn, Tamiko, Laura, son Troy and wife Tara, who discuss how he inspired them and also poke fun at the man also known as “Suzuk.” There’s a sweet story about how Suzuki spotted Tara in a packed university hall, were married soon after and are celebrating 42 years together. You can’t help but smile watching Suzuki gamely following his pint-sized grandkids along the B.C. shoreline, picking up shells and inspecting small, scuttling crabs. He’s like the cool uncle (or grandfather) you can’t wait to visit because he’s smart, funny and cool.

But the man who has morphed from scientist to geneticist, TV host, author and environmentalist isn’t perfect. One old colleague discusses Suzuki’s strong personality, and his daughter bemoans the fact a 2/3-full coffee cup set down for a moment will be scooped up and cleaned.

It’s ironic that, at one point during the broadcast, Suzuki states memories are his most treasured possession. As viewers, we have decades of them thanks to Suzuki and The Nature of Things.

The Nature of Things airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Help celebrate Suzuki’s birthday by tweeting well-wishes with the tag #SuzukiAt80 on Twitter.

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Link: Wasted: A Must-See NOT Documentary

From Jim Bawden:

Wasted: A Must-See NOT Documentary
Wasted is a top Nature Of Things documentary that puts a face on the compelling subject of alcohol addiction. You can catch it Thursday night at 8 on CBC-TV. Got that?

The hour begins with film maker Maureen Palmer’s profile of her partner Mike Pond who was a psychotherapist helping people with addiction in Penticton, British Columbia. And then he succumbed to alcoholism himself –living smack dab in wine country didn’t help needless to say. Continue reading.

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