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Battling the Yakuza
Organized crime syndicates are deeply entrenched in Japanese history. Known as the Jakuza, they were once seen as gangsters with strict code of honor, helping the police to fight the criminal underworld.
The Yakuza in Japan has links that extend as far back as 400 years to Edo era. But their days of protecting the weak against the strong are long gone.
Today, the Yakuza is a criminal network with nearly 80,000 members operating in 22 crime syndicates, and raking in billions of dollars a year. And Japan’s law enforcement wants to wipe them out once and for all.
With their links to drug and prostitution rings, corporate crimes and deadly shootings, Japanese officials want choke the Yakuza’s existence by starving them financially.
Watch the full documentary now - 25 min
Another chance to see the BAFTA award winning presenter traveling to northern California to visit America’s notorious San Quentin State Prison.
Built in 1852, San Quentin is one of America’s oldest prisons and suffers from chronic overcrowding. Although famous for its death row the prison’s main task is to house a transient population of 3,000 murderers, sexual predators and small-time criminals.
Louis spends two weeks with these inmates and quickly discovers that they inhabit a strange world within a world with its own rules and its own brutal code of conduct.
He meets amongst others David Silva who is serving 521 years and 11 life sentences and is locked down for 23 hours a day. Silva’s crimes as he describes them ‘would never be forgotten’ and he talks of how he faces up to the prospect of never leaving prison.
Louis meets Deborah and Rob a trans-gender couple who live like husband and wife and how Deborah feels that after 20 years of continual offending, San Quentin now feels like home.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 1 hour)
Ten Commandments of The Mafia
In 2007, Italian police make an astonishing discovery during a raid on a Mafia boss’ villa: a list of the Mafia’s most sacred laws.
It’s an incredible find: a code of conduct for the Mob. Now, for the first time, former Mobsters speak out about the rules that govern their criminal world; and reveal what happened when gangland began to question the so-called Ten Commandments of the Mafia.
The document makes clear that people with police or informers in their family cannot become members of the Mob. And although mobsters’ wives must be respected, they should not expect much support during childbirth: the rules state that “always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife’s about to give birth”.
The Decalogue was discovered along with a large number of other coded documents in a house near Palermo where Mr Lo Piccolo was apprehended after spending more than two decades on the run from police. Investigators say that the documents – including the Ten Commandments – will give them an insight into how the Mafia operates.
The papers also reveal details of companies with Mafia connections and information about the hierarchy within the organization.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist)
The Death Squads
The torture and slaughter of Iraqi civilians is reaching unprecedented heights with estimates of up to 655,000 dead. Night after night death squads rampage through Iraq’s main cities. In Baghdad, up to a hundred bodies a day are dumped on the streets. Often they’ve been tortured with electric drills. Yet those doing the killing have little to do with al Qaeda or Sunni insurgents. The majority of the killings are carried out by Shia death squads who want to turn Iraq into a Shia state aligned to Iran.
This shocking film investigates the links between the death squads and high-ranking Shia politicians. It reveals how the Shia militia that these politicians control have systematically infiltrated and taken over police units and even entire government ministeries. It investigates how these units are closely linked to the death squads, indeed they often are the death squads. And the killers act with impunity – there’s little investigation into their activities.
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Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War
This documentary takes you inside to an actual neo-Nazi Skinhead organization for a extended look at the methods and mentality that fuel the White Power youth movement in America. Focusing on the Alabama-based Aryan National Front and its leader, Bill Riccio, this special features behind-the-scenes footage of group members in their rural commune, at a series of White Power rallies, at a cross-burning Skinhead/KKK “Unification Rally,” and on the brink of extinction following the arrest of Riccio.
Watch the full documentary now
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Produced for the PBS series American Experience, Stanley Nelson’s Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples’ Temple, written by his frequent collaborator Marcia Smith, examines the infamous religious cult formed by Jim Jones and the events that led to the group’s horrifying mass suicide in 1978. The film traces Jones’ history from his unhappy childhood in rural Indiana.
Witnesses describe a strange, charismatic young man who nursed a seemingly sincere desire for social justice, but also reputedly murdered small animals as a child. Jones’ desire to befriend people across color and class lines alienated his family and neighbors. Eventually, he moved to Indianapolis, where, as a young Pentecostal minister, he started the city’s first integrated church.
Eventually, Jones moved his church to California to escape the racism he perceived in Indiana. In Redwood Valley, his church took on a new life, and he began aggressively recruiting new members. At first, members were required to tithe a percentage of their worth, but eventually, they were expected to relinquish all of their “worldly goods” to the Temple. In 1974, Jones moved to San Francisco, where he acquired some political clout before his high profile caught up with him.
Just before a damaging exposé was published, he moved his people to what was meant to be a “paradise” outside the racism and oppression of America, in Guyana. Nelson interviews eyewitnesses, including many former members of the Temple, and members of Congressman Leo Ryan’s staff who managed to escape when the congressman’s investigatory visit ended in bloodshed. The film had its world premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
This documentary is available for preview only. Buy the DVD at Amazon.com.