Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),


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What documentaries would you recommend to your fellow TEDsters?

This conversation was suggested to me by Maureen Dilger. In another conversation some of us have discussed some of the books we would recommend to other members of TED. So far this has produced a plethora of book titles. Here we can do the same but with documentaries.

So what documentaries would you recommend to your fellow TEDsters?

I'd say a must-see is Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' (it's a little old now, but still a beautiful presentation of science). I'll think of a few others which I'll add in a thread later.

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    Jun 30 2011: I have watched some documentaries lately that I really enjoyed. Some of them with better quality than others, but all of them being very rewarding. I think I just group them together and let you decide which you would like to watch for yourself.

    The following three documentary series are really fantastic, and I would higly recommend them to anyone interested in science and history.

    Chemistry: A volatile history
    Space Race
    How Earth Made Us

    A few documentaries on religion and philosophy

    A history of God
    The God Who Wasn’t There
    Why I Am No Longer a Christian
    Confucius: Words of Wisdom
    Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil
    Derren Brown - Miracles for Sale
    Missionaries of hate
    The Root of All Evil? - The God Delusion (1 of 2)
    The Root of All Evil? - The Virus of Faith (2 of 2)
    Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think
    Documentary about Atheism – Those who do not belief in god

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      Jun 30 2011: I am currently watching "space race". So far so good!
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        Jun 30 2011: Good choice, it is very inspiring! A reminder that great progress only is achieved through determination and struggle.
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          Jul 1 2011: It's brought back some good memories from childhood when I was spaced-obsessed. I remember how excited about Yuri Gagarin I was and how my uncle insisted that I prefer Neil Armstrong instead (obviously I was not too bothered about the Cold war as a child).
  • J Ali

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    Jul 4 2011: Planet Earth (2006) - BBC.
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    Jul 4 2011: Hi Matthieu,

    Thanks for curating the creation of a TED list of favorite documentaries.


    On the side of pure beauty, enchantment, wonder and inspiration the film Microcosmos..un narrated close ups of bees, butterflies, snails, and all kinds ofother little creatures whose lives we know nothing about. The absence of narration is a powerful device in this film because what you see will make you go slack jawed. In a repeated scene of different bees in different flowers I began to question whether the bee gathered the pollen or the flower deposited the pollen. Wonderful one to watch with children.

    Capitalism A Love Affair

    Michael Moore's hard hitting, no flinching look at the grip the plutonomy has on our legislature..on the world.

    World Water Wars: Blue Gold

    An eye opening heart wrenching look at the outrageous consequences on IMF and World Bank policies on some of the poorest nations in the world

    .Blind Spot

    Takes a look at some hard realties about our present non sustainability explaining what peak oil production is and how it has affacted our lives..the costs of all goods and services for the past 30 years and on peak food production. Stunning. Almost paralysing. But still, a must see


    I think no one can watch all of this..I had to turn away so many times. It spares us nothing in looking at the hard truths behind food production. If this film doesn't line up your values and actions on the same line..nothing will.Matthieu, I would also encourage all TEDsters to become Amazon reviewers and/or to create and post Amazon Listmania lists. It's a great "public service"
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      Jul 4 2011: Thanks Lindsay, I intend to watch each one of these. I think you mentioned 'World Water Wars: Blue Gold' in another conversation.
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        Jul 4 2011: Yes mind whole list is just mind blowing. I have been an activist /advocate all my life which means to be effective I have had to keep my radar screen pretty closely honed to the issues I am working have complete command to know whta needs reposnding to etc

        The down side of that is I didn't really have a balanced or well informed picture on other issues..especially global issues. It's only when you put it all together at the global level that the dots all connect. And of course they connect differently for me at 65 than they will for you because your life has spanned a different slice of history than mine.

        I will look forward to hearing how you connect with my list

        .I also look forward,especially, to your thoughts on Microcosmos since you are a David Attenborough fan ( who doesn't love David Attenborough) but the magic in Microcosmos is the absence of leaves us with a very personal, very intimate encounter with what we are seeing, left within ourselves to see and understand.I have seen that documentary technique used to great effect elsewhere..for example Winged Migration ( which I should have put on my list).,
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      Jul 5 2011: Thanks for reminding me of Microcosm. I should have put that my list. Lindsay you should checkout "Baraka." It has a similar style just instead of insects it explores Humans and there world.
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    Jun 30 2011: I add this:

    The Secret You
    Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy acts as a human guinea pig to find out something that can be impossible to explain, what makes us, us?
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    Jun 30 2011: no end in sight
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      Jun 30 2011: Thanks, it was very interesting!

      Here is a link to it
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        Jun 30 2011: deeply depressing though.
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          Jun 30 2011: Yes, I feel very helpless watching all the material comming out of this war. I think this documentary focused on the most important aspect of war, the policy making. It is something that rarely get much attention or understanding through the day to day reporting in news media. Still it is the effectivity of a policy that determines if it is justifieable or not. I think it is time to realize that when entering a conflict zone, you are not only responsible for the killings and crimes your own troops commit, but also of those caused by increased violence, crime, insurgency, etc., that is caused by the breakdown of economic and social security.

          I am happy I can feel helpless at a distance though, can't imagine the despair of those actually living there.
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    Jun 30 2011: I refuse to participate in the horrible postmodern fin-de-la-décennie habit of making lists ("World's 100 most important people", "Beyonce's Top 20 dresses", "The 9857 most wanted terrorists", "99 Green Gadgets you can't do without", "99 Green Gadgets you can do without", "364 of the most beautiful girls I dated so far this year", "364 of the most beautiful girls I dated so far this year And who were wearing Beyonce's Top 20 dresses", etc.).

    List are evil, especially when you begin to list lists!

    But since I already sinned against my own objection, here:

    1. "Terror's Advocate"
    :: IMDB summary: "A documentary on Jacques Vergès, the controversial lawyer and former Free French Forces guerrilla who has defending unpopular figures such as Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy."

    2. The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

    3. All documentaries from Werner Herzog - they're always "special". Not always brilliant, but they always provoke a discussion. Check his autobiographhy and his film on that crazy genius Kinski.

    4. The Documentary Whose Name I Can't Remember: anyone?
    :: Let me describe what I saw: a German early hippie couple who had settled in Africa, somewhere in the 60ies. Their daughter was raised "in the wild", and she played with untamed elephants. This tiny little girl, 7 years old or so, playing with these huge dangerous beasts. Too bizarre and beautiful. Perhaps I just dreamt it up. No, I'm sure I saw it on TV. I ***will** offer money or Beyonce's Top 20 Dresses to the person who knows the title.

    5. The endless video's of the Earth seen from Space. Not a documentary, but a simple document. The planet speaks for itself. They used to show these video's at night on German TV, when I was a boy. They've changed my life. I used to wake myself up, get out of bed, and sneak in front of the TV to watch this. Music good too.

    Say No To Lists!
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    Jun 30 2011: Great conversations Matthieu, thank you

    I frequently check
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    Jun 30 2011: Yay! Thanks for doing this Matthieu. I can't wait to see everyone's favorites. I have many as I'm fascinated with behind the scenes type stories.

    The last three I watched had a similar theme about the innovation that comes from marrying science with art. One was a look at oragami, called Between the Folds. The other 2 were The Pixar Story and Welcome to Macintosh.
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    Jun 30 2011: Matthieu, Lester Brown’s Plan B book series. In his latest interview, he said that the tipping point that will make everyone feel the impact of climate change is rising food prices.

    I also like watching documentaires about the magnificence of our universe and the great discoveries of science. I think these are also important in inspiring more people to see the big picture and help us strengthen our humanism.
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      Jun 30 2011: Yes, me too. I have the whole Life Collection by David Attenborough and I always try to keep up with the good science shows on the BBC.
  • Jul 5 2011: Here are three of my favorites. :)

    "Solitary Confinement" - An interesting documentary for any of you psychology people, such as myself!

    "Moment of Death" - Very insightful documentary about what happens when someone dies and what exactly happens, biologically, when death occurs. I know we don't all wake up wanting to think about death the whole day, but it's very intriguing and taught me a lot.

    "Freakonomics" - Outstanding documentary. A must-read... (I only read the book, but I'd imagine the movie is just as good.)
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    Jul 4 2011: For artists, scientists, mathemeticians another favorite is

    Between The Folds

    It shows the far reaches of origami but also explores how scientists, structural engineers, and mathemeticians have gained insight to comlex problems through the ancient art of origami.

    A real brain stretcher and great fun. ( also see current TED Converstaion on Origami..that very brilliuant young man hosting that conversation might be able to guide us more deeply into what this documentary introduces us to)

    Matthieu and all..thanks for all these really great suggestions..I am going to favorite this conversation so I can refer to the growing list here and work my way through it..all look very worthy and so many new to me
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      Jul 5 2011: Lindsay, I'm a fan of Between the Folds. I watched this right before I watched The Pixar Story which was interesting as they both had a similar theme of crashing science and art. It makes me step back and be inspired about how we can crash more disciplines together to stretch ideas, solve problems, or simply gain a new perspective on things.

      Btw- how do you "favorite" conversations. I can't figure it out.
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        Jul 5 2011: Don't think you can sadly. But it'll show up automatically in "My conversations".
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          Jul 6 2011: Well, at least I know I'm not crazy. I've been hunting around trying to figure it out. Thanks Matthieu (do you ever sleep?)
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        Jul 6 2011: Yes I do, I'm just in a different time zone from everyone else.
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    Jul 4 2011: I would recommend "Century of the Self" for anyone who wants to explore the word of PR in which we live and about some of it's key architects.

    Also, although not quite a documentary (kinda more like an essay in movie form) I have to say "F for Fake." It's Orson Wells final film which tell the tall tale of the brilliant art forger Elmyr de Hory in the most tangental way possible
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    Jun 30 2011: DMT the spirit molecule