WE WANT YOU TO LIVE

WE WANT YOU TO LIVE – LIBERIA'S FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA is a documentary about the devastation the Ebola outbreak has brought upon Liberia. How do people experience an epidemic that was out of control for months, that destroyed the country’s health system and left fear and mistrust in cities and villages? The documentary tells the story of Stanley Juah, a father of four who brought Ebola to his village and who is now held accountable for the deaths of fourteen people. Stanley’s last hope rests with a Reverend who tries to seek forgiveness for him.

"This incredible film is a testament to the bravery, strength and resilience of those who helped to fight the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. International Medical Corps' response was made possible thanks to the support of donors, supporters and even journalists from around the world, yet 90% of those at the forefront of our efforts were not just Liberian, but from the same county where we set up the ETUs. These Liberians were saving the lives of their families, colleagues, friends and neighbors. This film tells their story and for that we are grateful to all of those involved".

Quote by Sean Casey, regional director for the West Africa Ebola Response for the International Medical Corps.

The Bloody Truth

This film tells the story of the unknown pre-history of the AIDS virus, long before people started to die in the US and Europe. Following a team of scientists we uncover a forgotten medical archive in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that tells of an epidemic a full two decades before anyone knew about the novel killer. From high-tech labs in the US to African medics who have their boots on the ground, we trace HIV back to its origin in the jungles of Cameroon. In the decades around the turn of the 20th century, colonialism fundamentally changed the lives of millions of people in central Africa; it created an environment that allowed HIV to leave its original host, the chimpanzee, and start to spread in humans. 

The Bloody Truth was an international co-production between Smithsonian Channel and ZDF / arte. Here is some interesting background on the production process.

The website for The Bloody Truth was nominated for a Webby Award.

India

No Girls for the Boys

Parts of India have a hugely skewed sex-ratio - due to sex-selective abortion, far more boys have been born than girls over the last thirty years. What are the consequences for Indian society? The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has awarded me a grant to investigate this phenomenon. In a series of articles for CNN,  Spiegel Online and The Atlantic, as well as films, I am trying to lay out, that violence against women in India takes many forms and the problem won't go away anytime soon. 

Mumbai Madness

Traffic in a 21st Century Megacity

This webdoc investigates how the 20 million plus inhabitants of Mumbai deal with the everday traffic mayhem in their city. I have used photography and video to tell the stories of commuters, taxi& rickshaw wallahs, traffic policemen and slum dwellers, who live besides the railway tracks. A German version can be found here.

This webdoc was a finalist in the 2013 Online Journalism Awards (category 'Features Large').

Myanmar

Die Freiheit leben

Sechzig Jahre herrschten in Myanmar, dem ehemaligen Burma, die Generäle. Freie Wahlen, Menschenrechte, Demokratie – keiner glaubte mehr daran. Dann kam am 7. November 2010 die erste freie Parlamentswahl seit über zwanzig Jahren und mit ihr ein ebenso unerwarteter wie beispielloser Reformprozess. Wie gehen die jungen Leute mit ihrer neuen Freiheit um?

Ein Film von Carl Gierstorfer und Carsten Stormer

Blood and Treasure

It may be the biggest mystery in human history: why, after some 160 000 years of pretty dull existence, human culture began to take off? Our tools and weapons became ever more sophisticated, we began to engage in long-distance trade and art.

Was Kubrick right? Or can more earthly factors explain the enigma of the neolithic transition? This article for The Economist magazine details the work of my former lab boss, the one-and-only Professor Mark Thomas at UCL.

Bonobos in Crossfire

A feature for the science journal Nature on the elusive bonobo ape and how a dedicated researcher tries to save their habitat.

Darling, es ist Zeit zu gehen!

Applying evolutionary rationale to human behavior is full of pitfalls. Trying to describe, in evolutionary terms, how and why humans chose their respective partner is even trickier.

Monique Borgerhoff-Mulder, an anthropologist at UC Davis and 2012 fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, gave it a try (article in German).

Wildlife in a Changing Climate

A report on how climate change will impact the survival of mountain gorillas. Around 800 of them live in high-altitude rain forests of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Mountain gorillas are adapted to this unique habitat where they feed on more than 200 species of plants, many of them endemic to this region. It’s hard to predict how climate change will play out for the gorillas. As this report shows, conserving habitats and confronting environmental degradation not only benefits gorillas. It also is crucial to the socio-economic integrity of entire countries.

Ian Redmond, OBE, was our guide. Ian was a student of Dian Fossey’s, studying gorillas for many years, before devoting his energy to conserving their habitat. Ian chased poachers and coached hollywood actors how to grunt like gorillas for the blockbuster movie “Gorillas in the Mist.” Ian describes himself as a “naturalist.” He truly believes in conservation and goes to great length to raise awareness. Please follow him and his Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).

This film coincided with draws on a UN / FAO report on how climate change will threaten the survival of wildlife species. We also shot some additional footage that was distributed at the climate change conference in Durban.

Here are some (hand-developed!) black and white shots from Rwanda. 

Bangladesh

The Curse of Water

An award-winning feature on how Bangladesh tries to confront its extreme environment, where water is either too much to too scarce.

Life in Bangladesh is determined by the two largest rivers in South Asia, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. To local populations, these two waterways are both lifelines and threats. During the rainy season they often flood large parts of the country – and climate change is exacerbating extreme weather. As part of a pilot project, a village in northern Bangladesh has been made flood-proof. Moreover, a program that uses simple but effective methods ensures that locals’ incomes are guaranteed even during the rainy season (German version here).

Here is an image gallery of (hand-developed!) black and white pictures from Bangladesh's crazy capital, Dhaka. 

How is it like to be a bat?

Can we every know? Or is consciousness inherently subjective? This article portrays the work of a group of scientists who study how bats experience the world and what this tells us about our own perception. 

Catching the Cobra

Their leather is valuable, but their venom is even more highly prized, because it can save lives. India’s cobras and vipers used to be hunted and killed for their skin, but today the poisonous snakes are protected. In fact, their poison has become so valuable in anti-venom production and pharmaceutical research that a backward caste, the Irula people of Southern India, has made a living of catching and milking the venomous four: Cobrs, Krait, Russels Viper and Sawscale Viper. A report for Deutsche Welle TV (German version here).

An Afghan Odyssey

I first met Khalid in Greece in November 2008, wet and cold; a makeshift camp in the port city of Patra. Conditions were appaling: 2000 men, all refugees from Afghanistan, lived in sheds made of cardboard, plywood and plastic. They all wanted to get onto one of those ferries to “mainland” Europe. Away from the brutal police, into the promised lands of Germany, France or Scandinavia. Khalid made it to Norway, where he applied for asylum. After four years on the road, I visited him again in Oslo (German version here).

Meanwhile, Khalid has given up the fight. He asked the Norwegian government to fly him back to Kabul. From there he fled again to Pakistan, where he now lives. Conditions in Europe, haven't changed from when I first visited the island of Lesbos, one of the entry points for Afghan refugees into Europe.