Tag Archives: David Suzuki

Preview: The Nature of Things goes “Inside the Great Vaccine Race” for Season 61 return

Happy Season 61, The Nature of Things! The series, hosted by David Suzuki has always been timely in its nature, covering top-of-mind topics in an interesting, down-to-earth way that even I can understand.

Returning Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC, The Nature of Things is never more relevant, tackling COVID-19 with “Inside the Great Vaccine Race.” As the title suggests, this is an exhaustive peek at the people who worked tirelessly to help develop a vaccine for COVID-19 and continue to do so.

The episode begins with Dr. Alyson Kelvin (above), a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatoon, who left her family in Halifax for five months to work on a vaccine. While most people, in the early days of the vaccine, expressed curiosity at what was going on in Wuhan, China, Dr. Kelvin knew that—within months—the disease could be worldwide.

“Despite the sacrifices that I made to come here, I would have felt useless being at home,” she says.

Meanwhile, in China, it takes less than two days for the virus to be mapped and identified as related to SARS. And, able to spread without obvious symptoms by the carrier, it can move undetected around the world.

The Nature of Things also visits Cambridge University, Germany’s BioNTech lab and China’s CanSino Biologics as part of its storytelling, outlining what was being done in each location as the sprint to creating vaccines increased.

Made by Infield Fly Productions (who had their own challenges filming a documentary during a pandemic) in association with the CBC, “Inside the Great Vaccine Race” is tough to watch simply because it’s showing a worldwide event we’re still in the midst of. Those that have lost family members or friends to COVID-19 are going to have a particularly difficult experience. And it’s an excellent education into how science can provide a relatively quick solution to a worldwide catastrophe.

“Inside the Great Vaccine Race” kicks off Season 61 of The Nature of Things, Friday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Transplant, Schitt’s Creek and Beans win at 2021 Canadian Screen Awards Gala

Transplant and its lead actor, Hamza Haq, Schitt’s Creek and its lead actress, Catherine O’Hara, Kim’s Convenience‘s Paul Sun-Hyung Kim and Beans captured trophies during the Canadian Screen Awards gala.

Thursday’s online gala was narrated by actors Stephan James and Karine Vanasse. The Margaret Collier Award was given to David Shore, the Lifetime Achievement Award to David Suzuki, the Earle Grey Award to Tina Keeper, the Radius Award to Dan Levy and Academy Icon Award to the late Alex Trebek.

Wild Kratts tooks home the Shaw Rocket Fund Kid’s Choice Award while Wynonna Earp‘s Melanie Scrofano received the Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award, both of which were voted on by fans.

Here are the winners in Thursday’s television and film categories:

Best Lead Actor, Drama Series
Hamza Haq, Transplant

Best Lead Actress, Drama Series
Crystle Lightning, Trickster

Best Drama Series
Transplant

Best Feature-Length Documentary
Wandering: A Rohingya Story

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Greyeyes, Blood Quantum

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit

Achievement in Direction
Deepa Mehta, Funny Boy

Best Motion Picture
Beans

Shaw Rocket Fund Kids’ Choice Award
Wild Kratts

Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award
Melanie Scrofano

Best Lead Actor, Comedy
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience

Best Lead Actress, Comedy
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Best Comedy Series
Schitt’s Creek

For the complete list of winners, visit the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television website.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.

 

 Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.

rp-cu-plaster-cast-of-people

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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail