Being in lockdown, along with more than a third of the world, in order to try and curb the spread of COVID-19, can be tedious and stressful. If you are looking for ways to pass the time and take your mind off the pandemic, here are some of our most uplifting documentaries.
In her animal sanctuary in New South Wales, Australia, Donna Stepan, known as the “Wombat Whisperer”, saves injured and orphaned wombats.
“They’ll be on the critically endangered list within 20 years. No doubt in my mind,” she warns.
She wants the world to be aware of sarcoptic mange – a fatal and contagious parasitic disease that she says could wipe out wombat populations.
She is working on a new way to treat it, by giving the animals a pill and building “burrow hospitals”.
In this film, The Wombat Whisperer, we investigate the fight to save one of Australia’s most loved native animals.
Koka is a respected figure in Cairo’s pigeon fighting world. His life revolves around preparing for the contests, in which entire neighbourhoods clash to hunt and capture each other’s pigeons.
Away from the duels, he spends his time caring for the hundreds of pigeons he rears in a ramshackle wooden tower he has built on his roof.
Like numerous other breeders, Koka treasures the pigeons for their loyalty, discipline and the deep pride they bring him.
But his pigeon fighting days may be numbered. Coming from a conservative community, the 29-year-old is under immense pressure to quit his passion, get married and settle down.
Fearing that his next contest could be his last, Koka challenges one of Cairo’s best pigeon fighting neighbourhoods.
This film, Pigeon Battles of Cairo, follows Koka as he fights to cement his reputation as a great pigeon handler – at the risk of losing his parting battle.
In southern Thailand, the fishing village of Koh Panyee was once dependent on the Andaman Sea for food and income but today, the island is a tourist destination famous for fresh fish and pearls – and its floating football pitch.
Inspired by the World Cup in 1986, a group of young football fans decided to form a football club and build a pitch on water since there was barely land to play on – a decision that helped lift the island’s communities out of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.
In this short film, children of Koh Panyee tell the story of how the original founders first built the floating pitch and how it changed their lives.
The Complexo do Alemao favela in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro sprawls over the hills west of the main airport. Here, and in other favelas, is where most of Brazil’s murders – more than any country in the world – happen.
Despite her environment, Tuany Nascimento started dancing ballet at the age of five. Now at 26, she is teaching a new generation of girls in the neighbourhood.
This short film, Rio’s Favela Ballerinas, looks at the lives of these girls and how several times a week, they meet to practise their graceful dance at a sports court in the favela, a neighbourhood that police will only visit wearing bulletproof vests and toting assault rifles.
Grandmothers like Park Go-ee and her classmate Park Kyung-soon were denied an education in their younger years due to strict cultural traditions. But now, they are finally fulfilling their dreams of learning to read and write.
Theirs is among a number of rural schools in South Korea struggling to keep their doors open, as falling birth rates and migration to cities mean fewer children in school. It has started enrolling elderly students to keep numbers up.
“The grandmothers keep the school alive. I hope more grandmas join us, but there are not many,” says Park Go-ee.
Other schools are resorting to different methods; on Jeju Island, the town is attracting families by offering cheap rental housing and extra-curricular activities for students, while the rural village of Yaksu turned their school into a daycare centre for the elderly.
In this film, Schooling Korea’s Grandmas, we meet those helping to save South Korea’s dying schools.