TV Times - 14 - 20 June 2008

Soviet army poster for Afghanistan war.

This week's Pick is an insight into the effect on Soviet troops of the war with Afghanistan in what has been deemed to be one of the most influential anti-war documentaries ever made.

Other highlights are a political appraisal of the history of the western, an exploration on the effects of Islamic extremist indoctrination on Muslim prisoners, a study of the problems in breaking free from restrictive orthodox Jewish culture and a visual study of sexual hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.

Saturday 14 June - 9 - 10.30pm - BBC4 - How the West Was Lost
Comedian Rich Hall here takes a look at the character arc of the western whilst tying it in with US policy and the internal state of that nation. Clips from classic westerns are interspersed with footage of, for example, the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Osama Bin Laden.

Monday 16 June - 8 - 9pm - Channel 4 - Dispatches - From Jail to Jihad
Dispatches has a solid reputation for tackling controversial issues of religious fundamentalism head-on, as opposed to dancing around the edges of political correctness. In this edition, reporter Amil Khan investigates whether the expansion of Islamic extremism in British prisons has been helping to create new converts to the terrorist cause. He interviews former prisoners who claim that, while behind bars, they were taught that Islam justifies crimes against non-Muslims and learns how they went on to spread their new found radicalism when they returned to a life of crime.

Monday 16 June - 9 - 10pm - BBC4 - The Father, the Son and the Housekeeper
This pithily titled documentary in the Storyville strand very nearly did not come to light. It tells the story of the household of Ireland's most popular priest, Father Michael Cleary; a man who, dubbed the "singing priest", had two bestselling albums and once topped the bill at the Sydney Opera House. Like all Catholic priests, he was required to be celibate. He continued to preach this - but it was revealed that his housekeeper was actually his live-in lover and that her teenage son was his also. Film student Alison Millar had been innocently filming the charismatic cleric and his household for months, and when the story broke in 1993 a week after Cleary's death, Millar panicked and hid the tapes away. Later, however, she decided to go on to make this documentary. Viewed in hindsight, it makes for a telling visual demonstration of sexual hypocrisy in the Catholic Church.

Pick of the Week red n black star
Tuesday 17 June - 10 - 11.10pm - More4 - Afghantsi
Peter Kosminsky's 1988 documentary about embattled Soviet forces in Afghanistan was highly acclaimed at the time and its resonance today is equally apposite. It still has the reputation for being perhaps the most lucid, telling and honest appraisal of both the futility and the tragedy of war. It took the film-maker 18 months to gain access to some Soviet troops but his persistence paid off and he interviews a small outpost of weary troops stationed halfway up a mountainside. The soldiers explain, quietly, calmly and clearly, just how deceived they felt by their government, how they quickly ascertained that the war was unwinnable, and how deeply the violence has affected them.

Wednesday 18 June - 9 - 10pm - BBC4 - Jews - 1/3
Vanessa Engles, who previously made the series "Lefties" for BBC4, here appraises Orthodox Jewish culture in a tightly knit enclave in Stamford Hill in north London in this, the first of three parts. She details its insularity and conservatism; for example, schooling stops at the age of 14 and women are required to wear wigs on top of their real hair, in order to avoid inflaming the menfolk. However, in seeking to question just how and why people manage to break free of this highly restrictive set of cultural shackles, Engles' selection for interview of a twice-divorced convicted drug trafficker has the effect of sensationalising rather than enlightening.

Posted By

Lone Wolf
Jun 13 2008 02:28

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