A weekly showcase of one-hour documentary films from across the Al Jazeera Network.
Rim Banna: The voice of Palestine | Al Jazeera World
This is the story of a much-loved Palestinian singer-songwriter whose life encompasses creativity, artistic success, political activism and personal tragedy.
Rim Banna was born into a creative family in Nazareth in 1966. Her mother was the Palestinian poet Zouhaira Sabbagh and she was raised listening to famous artists like Fairuz. At 16, she was deeply affected by the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres, something that would later heavily influence her music. She studied at a conservatory in Moscow and her own compositions often put Palestinian poems, including her mother’s, to music.
Banna began her career recording Palestinian children’s songs, but her powerful and emotional music ultimately reached an international audience. In 2003, she sang on the Lullabies from the Axis of Evil album, through which female singers from the Middle East, Norway, North Korea, Cuba and Afghanistan sent an anti-war message to a world embroiled in the Iraq War.
Banna’s music is poetic and emotional; her political message uncompromising. She often performed in colourful embroidered gowns and her songs focused on Palestinian suffering, especially in the West Bank.
She was a genuine artistic talent, but her life was tragically cut short. In 2009, Banna was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a nine-year battle with a terminal illness, she died on March 24, 2018. Thousands attended her funeral in Nazareth where she was born 51 years before.
A Place of Refuge: Malmo and Nickelsdorf | Al Jazeera World
The Swedish city of Malmo, positioned at the eastern end of the Oresund Bridge with Denmark, and the Austrian town of Nickelsdorf, located near the borders of Hungary and Slovakia, have been on the route for refugees fleeing conflict and hardship for years.
In this film, we follow the stories of people who have left their native countries, each for different reasons, to build a new life in Western Europe.
Imad Tamimi teaches Swedish as a foreign language at an institute in Malmo. He left Nablus for Sweden nearly 10 years ago, and although his application for asylum was initially denied, he was determined to settle there. His big break came in 2018 when he covered for an absent language teacher and was hired full-time, enabling him to get Swedish residency.
By contrast, Moataz Kanaan, a Palestinian raised in Libya, is now homeless in Malmo. He fled Libya's revolution in a small raft from Benghazi, was rescued and sent to Sardinia, and then headed north to Scandinavia, only to have his asylum application rejected.
Meanwhile in Nickelsdorf, a town with fewer than 2,000 people, Ismael Saleh works as a barman for a local Austrian. Saleh was a geology student in Syria who escaped to Turkey in 2014 before travelling to Western Europe.
A Hard Road from Home: Journalists and Actors | Al Jazeera World
No two journeys of migration are the same. In this film, we follow four people who left their native countries, each for different reasons, to build new lives in Spain.
Mae Azango is a journalist who fled Liberia in 2006 but eventually returned home six years later. A teenager in the Liberian Civil War of the 1990s, she was eight months pregnant when her father was beaten to death. Since returning, she has written in vehement opposition to female genital mutilation. While editors initially ignored her work, her persistence has now attracted several international awards.
In 2016, journalist Milthon Robles fled his native Honduras where dozens of reporters have been killed covering the widespread gang violence. “They kidnapped me and tried to kill me several times,” he says, “specifically for my work as an investigative journalist.” He and his wife sought refuge in Spain, where he has received support from a global network that helps writers-in-exile.
David Laurent is an actor from Cameroon who has lived in Spain for the past six years. He arrived after a perilous dinghy journey from Morocco that he still finds hard to talk about. Today in Barcelona, David works with Theatre Without Papers, performing original plays with an African influence.
Hamid Karim is an established Algerian actor who has lived in Spain for 30 years. He loves his work and shares his passion for drama with a new generation – but is frustrated by being constantly typecast as a terrorist.
Beyond their individual journeys, all four have a common desire to give something back to their communities, by mentoring young people and trying to inspire others along the way.
South Africa: The Imam Who Fought Apartheid | Al Jazeera World
There are many heroes and heroines of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, but among the celebrated names of Mandela, Sisulu, Tutu and Biko is one less familiar - Abdullah Haron.
This Muslim leader from Cape Town led a quiet but significant defiance against racist government policies in the 1960s. He was especially politicised by the infamous massacre of 69 Black African protesters at Sharpeville in 1960.
His anti-apartheid activities took him around the world and he established close ties with renowned anti-apartheid figure Canon John Collins, the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London.
His work in defiance of apartheid also put him in great danger. He was detained without charge and tortured when he returned to Cape Town. He died while in police custody in 1969 under still-unexplained circumstances; claims by police that he "fell down stairs" - a stock explanation at the time for deaths of political prisoners in police detention - are today countered with overwhelming evidence of his death at the hands of security police.
In this film, Haron's family and others relay the story of the man who became known as "the imam who fought apartheid".
A Place of Refuge: Rome and Amsterdam | Al Jazeera World
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled conflict, poverty and human rights abuses at home, arriving on the shores of the Mediterranean and Western Europe. Despite the difficulties they face, many have built successful new lives.
Now in Italy, Olumide Bobola fled Nigeria over fears for his safety in 2016. He crossed the Sahara, surviving for three days on nothing but glucose drops, and after a perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing, arrived in Sicily. Today he is a singer in Rome, performing a repertoire of Italian songs. He was "adopted" by established traditional Italian musician, Stefano Saletti, and the two now share musical influences and the same creative musical journey.
"I call Italy my house," says Bobola, "but Nigeria is my home."
Nosakhare Ekhator, also from Nigeria, fell into the hands of people traffickers in Libya where he was held in a room with 120 others. One in five of those detainees perished. Now also in Rome, the young clothing designer has learned Italian and staged his first fashion show in the shadow of the famous Colosseum.
In the Netherlands, singer Samira Dainan was born in Amsterdam to a Moroccan father and a Dutch mother. After her father's sudden death, she chose to take his remains back to Morocco for a large family funeral. She now believes that sharing grief in her home country gave her the support she needed to carry on living in the Netherlands.
Journalist Linda Bilal grew up in Aleppo, Syria where she reported extensively on the Syrian conflict. She arrived in the Netherlands in 2015 and now writes for news outlets and is a regular Amnesty International magazine columnist.
The challenge for each of them has been how to integrate into a new home, while at the same time staying in touch with their roots, culture and religion.
The Database: Collecting the world's financial data | Al Jazeera World
What do you do if your bank account suddenly gets closed and you and your business can no longer function - and you have no idea why?
You discover it is because you are on a database that you did not even know existed, saying that you have links with "terrorism" and therefore few banks will deal with you.
This happened to two organisations in London which were listed on a database used by the banking system to combat money laundering and other financial crimes.
They both resorted to legal action, their cases were settled out of court and they were paid damages - but they still suffered disruption and reputational damage.
This film examines these databases - how they gather information, how it is used and what human impact they can have.