Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
After a routine partial hip replacement operation leaves the mother of filmmaker and comedian Steve Burrows in a coma with permanent brain damage, what starts as a personal video diary becomes a citizen’s investigation into the state of American health care.
In 2009, Steve Burrows’ mother, Judie, an active and independent retired teacher, fell while riding her bike and was rushed to the hospital for hip surgery.
After months of painful recovery, she fell again. Then, after eight days in the hospital and a second hip surgery, in which she lost approximately half her blood, the 69-year-old fell into a coma and suffered permanent brain damage.
Questioning whether his mother received adequate care in surgery and in the hospital’s “e-ICU” unit in which doctors sometimes monitor patients remotely by camera, Burrows consulted friends and lawyers, eventually deciding with his family to sue for medical malpractice.
For 14 seasons, Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond delighted crowds with his uncanny impersonations of Sean Connery, Regis Philbin, and former President Bill Clinton. Mimicking over 100 celebrities, Hammond found fame on the sketch show, appearing in films and even performing at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
But behind-the-scenes, the comedian was suffering.
Plagued by incapacitating flashbacks, Hammond struggled to cope, eventually turning to substance abuse and self-harm. After 50 years of pain and misdiagnoses, he discovered the root of his ailments: repressed memories from his youth.
Director Michelle Esrick captured Hammond’s story in the film “Cracked Up.”
When NASA launched Apollo 8 on December 21, 1968, the manned spaceflight mission had one objective: “To go around the moon and get back alive,” remembers astronaut Bill Anders in a new short documentary, “Earthrise,” directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. “There was essentially zero interest in images of the Earth from space. It was just one more thing to divert the crew from actually completing the mission.”
Everything changed, however, when the astronauts first glimpsed the blue planet from space. “It looked like the only thing in the entire universe,” Frank Borman, another astronaut on the crew, says in the film. “All this inky black void, and Earth was there with this beautiful blue hue to it—the blue marble.”
Later in the mission, as the spacecraft settled into lunar orbit, Earth appeared to rise over the moon’s stark, colorless horizon. Anders snapped a 70 mm photograph, which was later called Earthrise.
The first color photograph of Earth “captured a perspective of our planet never seen before and led to a collective shift in consciousness—one that saw the Earth as part of an interconnected whole,” Vaughan-Lee told The Atlantic. “I wanted to know the story behind the photograph … to know what it was like for the first human beings to see and experience Earth from space. The photograph holds the astronauts’ experience within it.”
Life on Mars has always been a standard science fiction topic, but season 2 of National Geographic’s “Mars,” which premiered Monday shows how real and attainable that focus has become.
The first season of the docudrama series aired in 2016 and was notable for its blending of fiction and science-based documentary, a format the show has maintained and improved upon.
Season 2 picks up several years into the development of Olympus Town, a colony of astronauts working with the International Mars Science Foundation. Close quarters living and the extreme environment take clear tolls on characters and their relationships, especially as love interests are established and a number of astronauts fall victim to the perils of space.
But for a show titled “Mars,” a significant amount of the footage is of tundras, deserts, and oceans on Earth, as well as on people who are not astronauts, but who are currently working to one day put men and women on our neighboring planet like Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye.
The choice to merge documentary and drama pioneered in “Mars” season 1 continues, polished, in season 2.
Marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, is growing more mainstream. Medical marijuana is now legalized in a majority of states, and 62% of Americans support legalizing it outright — but in the political realm, the plant has long been controversial.
“Weed the People,” which opens in some theaters in October, explores the potential of medical marijuana for childhood cancers and the regulatory hurdles facing parents who want to use cannabis to help their children.
The film, which was executive produced by former talk-show host Ricki Lake, follows five families using cannabis oils to treat pediatric cancers.
Some of the children used cannabis alongside treatments like chemotherapy, while others turned to the drug after conventional treatments had failed.
A new documentary premiering tonight on PBS takes a deep look at how opioid addiction affects the brain.
Created by the team at Boston-based NOVA, “Addiction,” weaves the stories of impacted families alongside the work being done by scientists to understand and treat the nationwide epidemic, which killed more than 63,00 people in 2016.
Sarah Holt, the film’s writer, director, and producer, told Boston.com she hopes the documentary will help to shed light on the stigma associated with addiction as well as help those seeking ways to assist loved ones struggling with dependance on drugs.
“Addiction” premieres tonight on most PBS stations.