Pick of the Week: Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die (Sunday 9:30pm)
This film topped my list of the best documentaries for 2011 and the award-givers agree - it has recently received best documentary awards from BAFTA and the RTS. It’s a profoundly moving account of Peter Smedley, a 71-year old British man suffering from motor neurone disease and his assisted suicide death with Dignitas in Switzerland. We are guided through this process by comic fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, is grappling with his own personal thoughts of mortality. Perhaps it will prompt renewed debate on euthanasia policies here? The Sydney Morning Herald named the film “Show of the Week” with a 5-star review describing it as “utterly captivating, compelling and magnificent television”. Don’t be turned off by the subject – it’s a beautifully made film that will stay with you for a long time.
Derren Brown Investigates (Mondays 8:30pm, SBS ONE). Derren Brown is a psychological illusionist who manipulates audiences using techniques like hypnosis and reveals intimate information through what looks a lot like mind reading. However, Derren is a sceptic and admits it is all a trick – a mix of misdirection and cold reading a willing audience. Joe Power claims to be the real deal – he says he can receive messages from the dead including John Lennon. In Monday's episode the two men attempted to match wits and skills - if you missed it you must catch up on SBS On Demand. Next week, Derren takes on a ghost hunter and later a man who has built a loyal following by claiming he can teach psychic abilities such as seeing without using your eyes. Creepy!
Cutting Edge: The New Great Game (Wednesday 9:30pm SBS ONE) This Canadian doco looks at the oil trade between the US and the Middle East and the geopolitical strife caused by the US’s attempts to protect their political and economic interests in the region.
As It Happened: Brother Number One (Friday 9:30pm SBS ONE) This is a New Zealand film airing after a successful film festival run internationally. It tells the moving story of a man retracing what happened to his brother in Cambodia in the 1970s, who set off on the hippy trail and ended up imprisoned and murdered by the Khmer Rouge.
Are We Still Evolving? (Sunday 8:30pm SBS ONE) By now we all have a good idea of human evolution and how we got to where we are. But where are we going? This intriguing program looks at our evolutionary trends – does survival of the fittest still apply or has medicine changed that? And is science now chiefly responsible for changes in human physiology?
About this writer
Physicist and author Brian Greene, brings us a mind-blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality.
Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.
A fresh perspective on the birth of civilisation in the Near and Middle East and its dynamic influence on the West.