RT’s documentary channel is celebrating 10 years on air. To honor the occasion, we’ve put together a list of the five most popular documentaries that have garnered millions of views and won viewers’ hearts.
Over the years, RTD has created more than 800 films and 1,000 series episodes, telling stories from every corner of the planet. Its work has won prestigious prizes, including the New York Festivals and Telly Awards.
1) Congo Dandies
In the Republic of Congo, there’s a club of gentlemen who dress to impress. As they make their way through the dusty slums of the capital Brazzaville, these African dandies wear sharp designer suits and handmade shoes. They are members of the La Sape movement. No price tag can stop ‘sapeurs’ from spending money on Armani or Yves Saint Laurent. To pay for their extravagant hobby, the Congolese dandies go to great lengths. Some save for years, while others get into huge debt.
2) Fallen Angels
Men from the US, Europe, Korea and China stream to Angeles City in the Philippines to pay for sex. Left behind in the wake of carnal tourism are fatherless kids of the country’s sex industry. With fair skin, caucasion features, black skin, and Asian features – they stand out in the crowd. Their mothers, some of whom are also the children of sex workers and foreigners, toil in the bars and prostitute themselves to put food on the table. This film tells the stories of the abandoned kids. They send heartfelt messages to their estranged fathers and share their dreams of not succumbing to the same fate as their mothers.
One of these children is Mary Ann. Her mother Jennifer hoped they could move abroad to live with her American boyfriend. As of 2021, Jennifer and Mary Ann are still living in the Philippines.
Agafia Lykova lives alone in the depth of the Siberian taiga. She has never left her encampment. She speaks Old Slavonic and prays a lot. She is the last surviving member of an Old Believers family, who fled religious persecution during Soviet times. The Lykov family was first discovered in 1978 by a group of geologists. It struck them that the Lykovs looked like they belonged in the 17th century. They had shunned modernization and were extremely pious.
Since her father died in 1988, Agafia has stayed mostly by herself. At 77, she still chops wood, carries water from the river, and tends her garden. In 2021, the hermit moved to a new hut that was blessed by the head of the Russian Old Believers Church.
4) Brides by Force
‘Ala kachuu’ or bride kidnapping is a longstanding practice in Kyrgyzstan. Men snatch women in broad daylight and force them into marriage. When a kidnapper brings a ‘bride’ into his family’s home, female relatives try to convince the woman to consent. Often the families of these abducted brides agree to the marriage simply because they consider the kidnapping shameful. However, many victims can’t tolerate it and take their own lives.
Although the practice is illegal and a bride snatcher can face up to 10 years in prison, law enforcement is lax. In April 2021, protests broke out in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, after 27-year-old Aizada Kanatbekova was kidnapped and later found dead alongside her abductor. Following the kidnapping, the police brushed off her mother’s pleas for help. There’s also a widespread belief that forced marriages and bride kidnapping are family matters.
Agbogbloshie is the world’s largest electronics dump, where old iPhones and laptops find their final resting place. Tons of e-waste from Western countries and Asia are delivered to the former wetland near the Ghanaian capital of Accra. Some 80,000 locals work there day and night, collecting scrap metal. They call the place Sodom and Gomorrah: it both feeds and kills them. They survive on between $3 and $5 a day and eat only one meal. The terrible air pollution from burning plastics makes it very dangerous even to be there.
RT Documentary’s crew faced a hostile attitude while filming the movie. “They have this attitude towards foreigners. They believe that all the resources were taken away from Africa and that is why they now have to rummage through trash in order to survive,” says the filmmaker, Vitaly Buzuev.
To celebrate its anniversary, RT Documentary is giving away prizes. Watch out for the videos and posts across RTD social media accounts! To win a prize, tune in to the live broadcast of the best documentaries, look for the ‘key words’ and type them in the comments section below. You can take part on Facebook, RTD.RT.com and YouTube.
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