Guardian Docs: Places You Didn’t Know About
By Argo

Be taken to global locations for stories a long way from home, and watch as you’re taken for a journey in different cultures where people are navigating very specific challenges and taking on their own stories. Inspiring and important contemporary documentaries told from the perspectives of those engaged in a battle for identity.

Where the River Runs Red

In the isolated west of Tasmania an ominous red river divides the small mining town of Queenstown. A result of copper run-off from a closed mine, it is an ever-present reminder of the town’s history of environmental and industrial disaster. Where the River Runs Red explores a community in an economically crippled area caught between the past and a future that is less reliant on a mining economy.

Killing Gävle

In the small city of Gävle, northern Sweden, there is an annual fight between local custodians and mischievous pagans for the spirit of Christmas. Each year since 1966, business owners have paid for a 13-metre (40ft) effigy of a goat to be made of straw and displayed in the central square from the first day of Advent. In 37 of those years, the goat has been burned down or damaged by shadowy outsiders, sometimes within a few hours of going up. In this film, residents from both sides of the goat conflict explain their hopes and motivations as Advent ticks down to Christmas.

The Fight

People with disabilities are among the most discriminated against in Bolivia. Fed up of being ignored, a group of them marched across the Andes to the seat of the Government in La Paz, asking to speak with President Evo Morales. They are met with riot police, barricades, tear gas and water cannons. Headed by a group of determined leaders such as; Rose Mery, Marcelo, Feliza and Miguel, the protestors set camp in the streets, a block from the main Plaza where the Government palace is located. For the first time in Bolivia’s history, the police erected 3m high barricades, station tanks and hundreds of riot police to stop the protestors in wheelchairs from entering the plaza.

The Valley Rebels

Cédric Herrou is a farmer who supports and houses African refugees in the alpine village of Breil-Sur-Roya in southern France. Some regard him as a heroic good samaritan, but others – including the French border police and state prosecutor – denounce him as the leader of a band of smugglers, bringing migrants from Italy into France while flouting official border controls. As Cedric moves from one prosecution to another, why do he and his fellow activists feel compelled to defy the authorities?

Little Pyongyang

A tale of one North Korean’s struggle to leave behind the homeland, this stylised documentary unveils the depths of loss and longing, and the desire for legacy amongst a community of North Korean defectors who have escaped their homeland to live in the leafy London suburb of New Malden. With exclusive access to one of the world’s largest communities of North Korean defectors, the film focuses on Joong-wha Choi, a former soldier in the DPRK who today lives with his wife and kids and works in a warehouse on the A3 motorway. But, despite enjoying the new found comforts of his British life, and being emancipated from the pressures of the North Korean state, his dilemma lies in a desire to return to the land that betrayed him yet is undoubtedly his true home. At a time when the world is wrapped up in the exchanges of pomp and bravado between two theatrical but powerful world leaders, the documentary recognises the North Korean defectors on Britain’s doorstep, and follows Joong-wha as he considers his mission to seek change for North Korea.

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