plan b: Naturally beautiful – cosmetics rethought

Cream, deodorant, lipstick: hardly anything comes closer to us. This is one of the reasons why consumers increasingly value natural ingredients, less packaging and fair production conditions.

Our cosmetics often contain controversial mineral oils or aluminium salts. They are packaged in disposable plastic. Good reasons to look for alternatives. For example, a deodorant that is 100 per cent natural and without waste. Good for consumers and the environment.

Fewer and fewer consumers want to put just anything on their skin. Instead, less chemicals and plastic in the bathroom. Marina Zubrod, who founded Matica in 2019, is also aware of this. That’s Croatian for queen bee. The name says it all, because the basis of all Matica products is beeswax. “I had major skin problems myself a few years ago, that’s when I started looking into the ingredients in my skincare products and wasn’t exactly “amused”.” The start was brilliant. Within the first six months, the company went through the roof so much that Marina Zubrod’s husband Jan quit his job and joined her company full-time. Marina provides the ideas, Jan tries to put them into practice in their own small laboratory. Their latest idea: a 100 per cent natural roll-on deodorant that still works and comes in refillable packaging. Can it work?

Good viruses, bad viruses

In the current Corona pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is killing a great many people and limiting life around the globe. But viruses also have good sides that we can use.

According to the common definition, viruses do not count as living beings. Nevertheless, they have a great influence on evolution and are even a part of us humans. Some virus building blocks have anchored themselves in our genome and reproduce with us.

They help us to survive. Viruses built into the human genome – so-called endogenous retroviruses – contribute to the formation of the placenta, for example.

Other viruses attack bacteria, preventing them from spreading and thus creating space for further life. This is also the case in the depths of the sea. There, viruses ensure the ecological balance. For example, they curb the growth of algae by attacking them. Or they infect disease-causing bacteria that target marine animals. So soon, viruses could be used instead of antibiotics in fish farming.

At the Bernhard Nocht Institute in Hamburg, viruses are examined, catalogued and archived. Bird flu, Zika, Ebola – a total of several thousand viruses have been completely sequenced, the actual number is probably many times higher. The Ebola virus is one of the most dangerous viruses worldwide, with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent.  However, the head of virology, Stephan Günther, sees the danger for humans rather in more harmless pathogens: “Actually, one has to say that the more successful viruses are influenza, Spanish flu or now Covid – the well-transmissible viruses.” Because of their much lower mortality rate, they spread much further and thus end up killing more people than those viruses that, when infected, kill almost every infected person.

But viruses can also help heal us: Near Rome, 40 scientists are developing a vaccine against SARS-Cov-2. The researchers are using the shell of a virus they found in the faeces of gorillas as a transport capsule for the vaccine. In this way, they transform a pathogen into an effective drug. Vaccinations against black skin cancer, for example, are also already being carried out – based on viruses that attack cancer cells. The documentary “Good Viruses, Bad Viruses” shows that viruses are much more than disease-causing pathogens. They determine our existence and we can make use of their properties.

Northern Germany by night

Wie verändert sich Norddeutschland, wenn das Leben zur Ruhe kommt und sich die Dunkelheit über das Land legt? Der Film „Norddeutschland bei Nacht“ zeigt uns was passiert, während die meisten von uns schlafen.

Mit dem Hubschrauber und besonders lichtempfindlichen Spezialkameras an Bord fliegen Autor Marcus Fischötter und sein Team über blinkende Windparks, Krabbenfischer im Mondschein und Bauern, die im Scheinwerferlicht ihrer Mähdrescher Felder pflügen. Hinweg über die Häfen von Rostock, Kiel, Hamburg und vorbei an Ölplattform, Raffinerie und hell leuchtender Industrie. Überall ist nächtliches Leben. Der Norden bei Nacht ist ein schillerndes Lichtermeer.

Nacht in der Schweiz

In our 3-part journey through a night in Switzerland from dusk to dawn, we take viewers on helicopter and drone flights across the country to visit people who are still working then. Spectacular aerial shots lend the country a mysterious beauty. Images emerge that we have never seen before. And different people who are active at night tell their stories: We are present at night ski tours, piste preparations and dog sled races in winter, accompany border guards, bird ringers, film shoots, heavy transports and street artists in summer and autumn. A high-quality series with interesting stories and great pictures.

On 27.12.2020 on SRF:
Episode 1 – Wintry Switzerland from 20:05 to 21:00
Episode 2 – Summer Switzerland from 21:00 to 21:55
Episode 3 – Autumnal Switzerland from 21:55 to 22:50

The Druids – mysterious priests of the Celts

For a long time, only what ancient authors from Greece and Rome reported about the religious dignitaries of the Celts, the Druids, was known. Fascinating archaeological finds from recent years offer new insights into the cultic practices of the Iron Age. They allow us to draw conclusions about the importance of the druids in Celtic society. With their rituals involving mistletoe, oak woods, magic potions and human sacrifice, they still exert a great attraction on many people today. But what about this image is historically verifiable? What is pure projection? Who were the Druids really? What role did they play in Celtic society and how much truth is there in the image of the wise bearded man in a light-coloured robe with a sickle in his hand cutting mistletoe? Archaeological sites and finds in France, Germany and England reveal a new picture and even allow the assumption that not only men were druids.

Fairy Tales for the World – Hans Christian Andersen

Generations of children have grown up with his stories. All over the world, Hans Christian Andersen is known and loved as a fairy tale author. On 2 April, his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Book Day.

In doing so, he wrote for children and adults: “I tell the children while I remember that father and mother often listen, and they must be given something for the mind.” He did. His tales, unlike the Grimms’ fairy tales, are often deeply sad and without happy endings. The mermaid who transforms herself into a human being for her prince does not get him in the end. The stalwart tin soldier, after a mad odyssey, ends up back in his sheltered home, but unfortunately also in the oven in the end. And The Girl with the Matchsticks, who freezes to death on a cold winter’s night, reads like a bitter social critique. The fairy tales often reflect Andersen’s own experiences.

For the Danish fairy-tale poet did not have an easy life. He grew up in poor circumstances in the small town of Odense. To escape the misery, he set off for Copenhagen at the age of just 14. Here he seeks his fortune and wants to become famous. After numerous disappointments and the search for his destiny, he becomes a successful writer. Of course, he only writes the fairy tales out of financial necessity. From being a lucrative source of income, they become his most important literary works.

The documentary tells of the eventful life of the Danish national poet and delves into the exciting world of his fairy tales.

Sick from the heat? How the climate is changing our health

Climate change is the big issue of our time. It is omnipresent, present in the media and part of our everyday lives, because it poses a high risk to the current and future health of the population. According to forecasts, the average temperature in Germany alone will rise by 1.0 to 1.3°C by 2050 and by 3.7°C by 2100. The frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase in Central Europe. If nothing is done, five more annual heat waves are expected in northern Germany by the end of the century, and as many as 30 in southern Germany. This has consequences for us: because climate change alters our entire ecosystem; and that affects our health. Rising temperatures, for example, promote the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito and other vectors of infectious diseases that were previously unknown here. They also change the biology of allergenic pollen, lengthening the duration of pollen flights and increasing the amount of pollen, which increases asthma and allergic reactions. Higher temperatures can lead to algal blooms by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in lakes and the Baltic Sea, which can cause skin irritation. In addition, warming of the Baltic Sea is expected to increase the risk of Vibrio infections. – In the meantime, it is no longer just schoolchildren worldwide who are protesting for effective measures to protect the climate. People are concerned: because it is no longer just about changing our environment, it is directly about our health.

But: To what extent does the environment make us sick and what developments must we expect in the future? – The 45-minute documentary “Is our climate making us sick?” asks questions and provides answers. It shows what effects climate change is already having on human health, what problems and risks we are confronted with in central Germany. But the documentary also wants to show opportunities and solutions to problems; ways to stop climate change and adaptation strategies to the consequences of the changed climate. We talk to scientists and researchers; to people who work every day to better adapt themselves and ourselves to the changed environmental conditions.

Trump, my American family and me

Ingo Zamperoni on the road in a torn country

Ingo Zamperoni knows the USA like few others, not only because he spent formative years here as a student and later reported on Americans as a US correspondent. The presenter of the ARD Tagesthemen is married to Jiff, an American, and has a large family in the States. And they are just as divided about conservative President Donald Trump as the whole country.  Father-in-law Paul elected the controversial Republican to the White House. Zamperoni’s wife Jiff is as appalled by this as her mother Lynn.  Shortly before the presidential election, Ingo Zamperoni wants to find out why not only his family-in-law but the whole country is so torn apart. Zamperoni embarks on a family-political search for clues. He wants to understand what excites his father-in-law Paul about the blustering president? How does he manage to see past the many lies, inconsistencies and lapses? And how does his mother-in-law’s second husband, who is black, deal with racism in Trump’s America? And perhaps even Zamperoni’s wife and mother-in-law, the Democrats in the family, will have to concede certain successes of his policies after four years of Trump? And: how will the relatives vote in November?

Through his personal approach, the celebrity anchor brings us closer to the world of American thought in a unique way. An attempt at explanation that makes you think.

Adventure Harvest

When a harvester takes six tonnes of beans from the field per hour, when a complete 32-hectare wheat field is mown within three hours, or when a planting machine alone puts up to one million iceberg lettuce plants into the ground per day – then it is high season in northern German fields.

Behind these gigantic dimensions are farmers who have to struggle every year with cold snaps, record heat, too much or too little rain. And as if that wasn’t enough, in 2020 there was also Corona. Thousands of harvest workers could not enter the country, fields could not be cultivated and asparagus could not be harvested. Would farmers in northern Germany be able to harvest the usual quantities this year, guarantee supplies, all at stable prices? Or would Corona mean ruin? 2020 poses great challenges for the farmers.

Vanessa Kossen and Arne Jessen accompanied large and important producers for a season and got to know people who grow vegetables, fruit and grain with passion, a willingness to take risks and a love of the product. Things that we can buy as a matter of course in the supermarkets every day.

Funded by nordmedia – Film- und Mediengesellschaft Niedersachsen/Bremen mbH.

The Treasure in the Desert Sand – Turkmenistan’s Ancient Heritage

Turkmenistan was long considered the poorest region of the Soviet Union. It is probably one of the most unknown and closed countries in the world. Today, oil and natural gas have made the country in western Central Asia rich.  For the first time in 10 years, a film team was able to visit impressive excavation sites unhindered and accompany international research teams as they worked on sites that had been “forbidden” for a long time.

4000 years ago, a centre of power of the ancient world was located in Turkmenistan. Although flourishing at the same time as the advanced civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the ‘Margiana’ empire was completely forgotten. Only recently did archaeologists discover palace buildings and magnificent burial treasures in the middle of the Karakum desert in the former capital Gonur Depe.

Spectacular aerial photographs show the dimensions of the “lost” metropolises in a hostile environment. An international team of researchers is also uncovering monumental fortifications in neighbouring Ulug Depe. The ruined cities of Merw and Köneügentsch are declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Suddenly, Central Asia comes into the focus of science and the media. Why have powerful empires risen and fallen in Turkmenistan since the Bronze Age? DNA analyses prove a high mobility of the population, long-distance contacts reached as far as India, the Urals and the Mediterranean. The Silk Road between China and Europe became the world’s most important trade route for millennia and made Turkmenistan an important hotspot in history.