Web Culture

Dying on Mars, the Drone Wars, and More Must-See 3-Minute Documentaries

Tim Brookes 02-04-2015

Our short, 21st century attention spans mean short-form content excels well online. This explains the popularity of Twitter and Buzzfeed, but also why AdWeek considers three minutes to be the optimum YouTube video length.

The Guardian is one of Britain’s most respected news organisations. Their YouTube channel arguably takes a leaf from the Vice school of online video production, marrying hard hitting journalism with a compact format that’s perfect for dipping into even when you’re meant to be working.

If you like free documentaries, you’re in the right place.

If I Die On Mars

In 2012 a private startup called Mars One decided it was time to start colonising the red planet, and laid down ambitious plans to make the dreams of many a reality — for a few lucky individuals at least. The only catch is that the journey to colonise Mars will be a one-way one, and anyone leaving for the planet wouldn’t be coming back.

This short documentary takes a look at three individuals who have made it through to the final shortlist, why they want to leave and what made them apply in the first place.

The Price of Gold

Filmed in 2013, this short film examines Ghana’s gold rush and the massive knock-on effects it has had on the environment, the country’s stability and those who have most to lose. As more gold is found in the ground, more Chinese workers have arrived in Ghana hoping to profit from the rush — but this has lead to the explosion in illegal, unchecked excavation.

Las Vegas: Dining At The Heart Attack Grill

There’s a lot of problems with Las Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill, but not everyone sees it that way. It might be the way the burgers are named after life-saving heart operations (including the quadruple bypass). It might be the way that kitchen and wait staff are dressed as doctors and nurses, or the fact that diners are dressed in hospital gowns.

But mostly it’s the way that a country already in the midst of an obesity epidemic has taken to mocking the issue, which I found most repulsive.

Qatar World Cup: Migrants Working for No Pay

The Guardian is far from the first news outlet to suggest that the 2022 Qatar World Cup is frought with problems. After initial suggestions of a fixed vote (which FIFA decided wasn’t the case), one of the world’s richest countries is now flatly refusing to respect workers rights.

The fact remains that world’s most prestigious trophy will be contested within stadiums built by some of the poorest migrant workers in the world, many of whom will never see the first game kick off.

The English Defence League Uncovered

Warning: This video includes strong language, racist terminology and a lot of aggression.

The result of a four-month investigation by The Guardian in 2013, one reporter spent January-April shadowing the English Defence League, a fledgling organization wasn’t even a year old at the time of the investigation.

The group claims it is a non-violent, and ties to fascist organisations are frequently downplayed, but the scenes on the streets in the film above suggests otherwise.

Drone Wars: Gamers Recruited To Kill

The disconnection between shooting an enemy in a video game and doing so in real life is quite a large one, but what happens when those lines become blurred? The US Military has been approaching gamers and convincing them to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for a number of years now.

Despite the initial surge of enthusiasm, many of these gamers have gone on to question their lack of vulnerability and what this means in the theatre of war.

Syrian Migrants Film Their Perilous Voyage

Since the Syrian war began in 2011, thousands of migrants have fled the country and made the dangerous journey from the middle-east to Europe for a better life. The journey is fraught with danger, many of which were highlighted in this film which was captured first-hand by those making the journey.

Of the 540 migrants loaded onto the boat, over 200 drowned including two of the five featured in this film.

More From The Guardian

You can find more video content from The Guardian on their YouTube channel, which includes plenty of documentaries, animations and the opinion pieces in the form of “Comment is free” videos. If you enjoy videos like this be sure to check out edgy counter-culture magazine Vice, Vice News for their take on news and current affairs and Motherboard for everything science-related.

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Related topics: Documentary, Stuff to Watch, YouTube.

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