All Joking Aside
Charlene is a young lady with a dream of doing stand-up comedy and making people laugh, but life won't stop getting in the way of her ambitions. From her soul-sucking job, to her heartbreaking estrangement from her family, to that bully who heckles her first amateur night gig, she just can't catch a break and find her voice. But when she discovers that the heckler, Bob, actually used to be a big name on the comedy circuit before his career crashed and burned, she turns to him for mentorship; a request that is quickly shot down by the now grizzled barfly. But Charlene is tenacious and over time the two find something in each other that has been missing in their own lives, a friendship is born, and Charlene learns to find funny in places she never expected.
Set in 1908 and inspired by the true-ish saga of Harry Bensley, 21,000 Pounds is the darkly comedic tale of a man who must walk through every county in England and 65 other countries around the world....while pushing a baby pram and wearing a helmet from a medeival suit of armour...and paying for the whole thing with the postcards. Did we mention that he also needs to find a wife in this time even though he's never allowed to identify himself?
A HEARTBEAT AWAY
A 1-hour television documentary
(DEVELOPMENT FUNDING RECEIVED FROM SHAW/HOTDOCS FUND)
A Heartbeat Away takes a look at an astonishing new advance in transplant technology which has the potential to change everything about how we perceive our hearts. In the Western world, heart disease is now responsible for more than 8 million deaths every year, but a lack of suitable donors has capped the annual number of worldwide transplants at only around 3,500. Spurred by these statistics, Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier and Dr. Billy Cohn at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) in Houston have developed a new technology to produce an artificial heart called the Heartmate II, which could fundamentally change not only the transplant world, but have a profound impact on human longevity. This new artificial heart, which is currently concluding the first phase of human trials in the USA, contains a pair of high-powered turbines that continuously push blood through the body. This continuous flow model brings with it a very significant and very strange side effect - it eliminates a measurable pulse. The beating heart, the rhythm which has for millennia bound us to the core of our life force, disappears. The THI team is poised to receive governmental approval for a second phase of human trials, and five people will receive Heartmate II implants and begin to measure their heart activity in revolutions and not beats. Our camera will be present to watch the process, look into the science, and follow the journey of some of these pioneer patients.
Today we accept the science that tells us that our brains are the seat of our intellect and emotion, yet in all languages we continue to use phrases like “suffering from a broken heart” or having a “heart to heart” with someone, an indication of just how deeply ingrained this perception is. From exploring the basic science of the heart to finding our how this part of ourselves has been regarded throughout the ages in cultures around the world, our program will also challenge us to think about the future in a new light. We still claim the heart as the seat of love and compassion, but with today’s rapid pace of technological change do we now need to explore the question: what does it mean to live without a flesh-and-blood heart?