Television

BBC launches season asking 'Why Democracy?' globally

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MUMBAI: The Why Democracy? season is a multimedia event – exploring the state of democracy in the world today – with the BBC at its heart.

From next month, the season will run globally on TV, radio and online, on over 40 broadcasters, in over 200 countries and territories – a potential audience of 300 million people.

In the UK, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC World, BBC Parliament, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service will all run programming dedicated to the idea of democracy.

Central to the season are ten documentaries, made by filmmakers from around the world, taking a wide-ranging and in-depth look at the nature of democracy. Subjects include US torture in Afghanistan, the election of a class monitor in a Chinese primary school, Che Guevara and the Danish cartoons controversy.

Why Democracy? has teamed up with Metro Newspapers worldwide, and The Observer in the UK, to ask national leaders, celebrities and everyday people to answer ten questions about democracy. Their answers will appear online, in the press and in a series of short films. The same questions will be part of a global opinion poll.

And people all over the world can join in the discussion on the web. A global film premiere on MySpace.com will launch the online debate. whydemocracy.net will host discussion forums, chat rooms, educational resources and interviews with key figures who have had a direct hand in shaping democracy.

The ten films in the season include:

Please Vote For Me: Weijun Chen's comic but profound film charts the election of the class monitor in a Chinese school. At first all goes well, but soon the manipulation and dirty tricks start, posing the question of whether democracy could ever exist without them.

Looking For The Revolution: Here Rodrigo Vazquez travels to Bolivia to see whether the idea of a revolution started by Che Guevara 40 years ago is still alive today. Evo Morales seems to be trying to keep revolution on the agenda, but others wonder whether it can ever actually happen.

Taxi To The Dark Side: Dilawar, a young Afghani taxi driver, was arrested and tortured to death by United States forces in Bagram. Oscar-nominated director Alex Gibney provides a forensic account of how such abuses became possible, and finds a trail leading to the door of the White House.

Bloody Cartoons: Life and livelihood were at stake when a small Danish newspaper chose to print a selection of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Karsten Kjaer looks at the events that followed and travels the world to question the protesters and explore their motivations. Could the Muhammad cartoons have affected the future of free speech?

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