How was I supposed to know it was there? True, I have been a paying customer of Direct TV for over seven years and I can assume, now, today, that it was always there. It was just waiting for me to look for it. I had never heard of it before, no one has ever spoken to me about it. I have never ever read about it. How could such a wonderful thing sit inside my TV without my notice?
What am I blathering on about? Well, I am talking about Link TV, the worldwide satellite TV station, that makes and then lives up to the claim of "Television without Borders." Due to a recent back injury, I have found myself on the couch, remote in hand, on a much more regular basis than can possibly be good for anyone, in either mind nor matter. And there, on channel 375, the meat in the sandwich between the BYU station and the NASA station, resides a virtual pirates chest of documentaries from all points of the earth.
Let me give you a few examples of some of the films I viewed in just the last week.
"ALTER EGOS"...2004 film by Laurence Green, about the making of the Academy Award winning short "Ryan". Chronicles the long-lost animated film maker Ryan Larkin. Up close and personal with Mr. Larkin who went from an Oscar nominee for best short (Walking) in 1969 to a drunken panhandler. Really interesting, cutting piece of film.
"NAF-A STREET KID"...2006 film by Moshe Alafi. A revealing story of a homeless boy's life on streets. From the age of 14, Naf wanders the winding streets of Jerusalem, his rap music his only dream of climbing out of the abyss of crime, drugs and street fighting.
"EVERYTHING'S FINE" (Toro Si Te)...A film by Daisy Lamothe. Seydou KonatÃ© is a doctor in Nongon, a small village in Southern Mali, without electricity or telephones, isolated by two rivers with no bridges, and a 10-hour drive on a dirt road from the capital of Bamako. Working out of the Community Health Care Center, with limited staff and technical facilities, he is the only doctor for more than 40,000 inhabitants.
"Everything's Fine" portrays KonatÃ©'s everyday routine, meeting with patients in his office, treating a variety of injuries and ailments in the clinic, lecturing people on the use of condoms to prevent AIDS, warning against the dangers of using water from contaminated wells, insisting on regular vaccinations for young children, dealing with complications of pregnancy, and even comparing professional notes with a traditional healer who comes in for a diagnosis.
The 37-year-old doctor, who declares that he is proud to be practicing the "noble art of medicine," works at a fixed salary and lives most of the year apart from his family in Bamako. He is an affable personality with an engaging sense of humor who relates easily to his patients, but he will also angrily get in someone's face when they persist in perpetuating unsanitary conditions that endanger the lives of the entire community, such as a market food vendor who persists in cooking with contaminated well water. (First Run Icarus Films). A absolutely amazing piece of film.
"GEISHA GIRL"...Director unknown to me. After growing up in a small town in the north of Japan, 15-year-old Yukina decides to leave school and move to the ancient city of Kyoto to follow one of Japan's most traditional professions. Stunningly filmed and with exclusive access, Yukina's journey gives a unique insight into the sacrifice and dedication needed to enter the closed but privileged world of the geisha. Totally enthralling.
"SISTER HELEN"...A film by Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisa. Sister Helen, a tough, 69-year-old Benedictine nun, runs the Travis Center, a clean and sober halfway house for recovering addicts and ex-convicts in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, New York. Mott Haven is the poorest congressional district in the nation, where extreme poverty, unemployment, drug abuse and crime have a distinct daily presence. The number of social service agencies set up to help the drug and alcohol-dependent in this community continues to be far too few to meet its rising demand.
She lives with 21 men of mixed race and economic backgrounds who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or both. She runs a tough place. The rules include: required attendance at group meetings, random and humiliating urine samples, strict curfews, no lying, and any other thing Sister Helen wants when she wants it. She loves life and is often funny, but she is always on guard, trying to catch mistakes before they happen. She takes little chaff from the residents, frequently threatening to boot them out.
Sister Helen's tragic past holds the key to her present life and mission. Haunted by her own decades-long struggle with alcoholism and a string of tragic personal losses, including the violent murder of her 15 year-old son and the alcohol and drug-related deaths of her husband and second son, Sister Helen overcame her own alcoholism and established the center in 1989. (Filmakers Library, Women's Studies)
That's just a taste of what was available and only speaks of the station's documentary offerings. There are many other incredible facets to this amazing channel. The original program and Peabody Award winner, "Mosaic" features selections from daily TV news programs produced by national broadcasters throughout the Middle East. The news reports are presented unedited and translated, when necessary, into English. See what countries like Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian National Authority,Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and other countries are reporting as the real news. It's a totally different perspective.
There is "World Music" that features artists and music videos from around the world. Or give "Cinemondo" a whirl, described by Link as, "Premiering 11 entertaining and eclectic foreign films from some of the worldâ€™s most talented directors, Link TVs new world cinema series CINEMONDO offers a charming collection of films that have never before been broadcast in America.".....And much much more.
I have just started the ride and have enjoyed every moment so far. Here's the bad news, Link is basically only available full time on Direct TV or The Dish Network. When checking the website there is some limited cable showings in major cities but just for a few hours a day.
Check it out at www.linktv.org. If you don't have satellite, you might want to get it...A last note, the channel is "subscriber supported" so I guess I better go make a pledge before this is printed, lol
LEISURE - TV
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
Link TV....Television without Borders lives up to its claim.
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
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