Sep 23, 2013
SIEGE IN THE SAHARA airs Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
PUTIN’S ROAD TO SOCHI airs Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
GIDEON’S ARMY airs Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

CBC News Network’s THE PASSIONATE EYE presents three new groundbreaking documentaries to start the 2013-2014 season. SIEGE IN THE SAHARA is a dramatic reconstruction of the terrorist attack on a gas plant in Algeria that involved two Canadian jihadists and left 40 western workers dead. Compelling interviews with survivors raise important questions about why so many people died in the attack and provide key details about the role of a Canadian hostage-taker. PUTIN’S ROAD TO SOCHI exposes why the Sochi Olympics have become the most expensive Games ever. With extraordinary access, the film investigates the corruption, sky-rocketing budgets and environmental costs of staging the Winter Olympics in a sub-tropical resort. GIDEON’S ARMY, a Sundance Award-winner, profiles three dedicated, overworked and underpaid public defenders in the Deep South who fight to keep their clients out of jail in a system that’s stacked against them.

Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC News Network. Repeats Saturday, Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET and Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. ET.

SIEGE IN THE SAHARA details the four-day hostage taking that transfixed the world in January 2013, ending when Algerian Special Forces stormed the site and killed or captured all of the Al Qaeda operatives, including two Canadians. The documentary goes behind the news headlines to reveal in terrifying detail how these dramatic events unfolded. British and American survivors describe their encounters with the terrorists while dramatic reconstructions bring to life the gun battles and daring tales of escape and bravery. Personal photos, telephone recordings and emails help re-create the rapidly unfolding events.

In the film, British survivor Stephen McFaul recounts how 22-year-old Canadian Xristos Katsiroubas acted as an interpreter, speaking directly to his captives about Al Qaeda demands. And he describes in chilling detail Katsiroubas’ attempt to detonate a homemade explosive device in an SUV filled with hostages.

Some of the important questions raised in the film include: How did a convoy of dozens of terrorists manage to travel undetected across hundreds of kilometers of desert and gain control of one of Algeria’s most valuable gas facilities? Who was ultimately responsible for the safety of its workers? And did the Algerian government act appropriately when it refused to negotiate with the hostage-takers and sent in its army without notifying foreign governments?

Directed by Bruce Goodison, an award-winning documentary and drama director whose films include Our War, Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill and the Emmy-nominated FLIGHT 93: The Flight That Fought Back’, and produced by Nutopia.

Sunday, Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC News Network. Repeats Saturday, Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. ET

As costs for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia spiral in excess of 50 billion dollars, PUTIN’S ROAD TO SOCHI goes behind the scenes to investigate why the first Winter Olympics to be held in a sub-tropical resort have become the most expensive Olympics ever. With extraordinary access to top government officials and wealthy Russian businessmen, the documentary follows the preparations from the early stages, exposing alleged corruption, the sky-rocketing budget and the big winners and losers.

The city of Sochi, or “Russia’s Riviera,” is a summer resort for Russia’s rich and beautiful. “We are building a great sports festival for the entire world,” says Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov who acts as tour guide, showing off the progress made in preparation for the Games.

PUTIN’S ROAD TO SOCHI questions the entire Sochi nomination and reveals the environmental and human costs of constructing a faux “winter” for the upcoming Games. When the IOC decision was made, there was not one single venue fit for Olympic purposes of any kind in Sochi. “Vladimir Putin personally met with almost all of the IOC representatives,” says Leonid Tyagachev, former president of the Russian Olympic Committee. “The amounts of Euros and dollars tossed around were practically unlimited.”

Over 200 Olympic facilities will be built, as well as the infrastructure needed to support it. As we watch the Olympic site take shape, the stories of corruption and bribery are revealed. But the mayor remains undeterred. “Our city is a park,” he says. “It’s meant for leisure not corruption. So all this talk about corruption hurts me.”

PUTIN’S ROAD TO SOCHI is directed by Alexander Gentelev and produced by Simone Baumann.

Sunday, Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBC News Network

Sundance Award-winner GIDEON’S ARMY follows three public defenders, Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the southern U.S. dedicated to defending those who otherwise would not receive representation. Backed by mentor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center, these public defenders struggle with long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year.

Williams is a Gainesville, Georgia lawyer whose 20-year-old client has been accused of armed robbery and faces a minimum of ten years to a maximum of life in prison. Alexander is preparing to go to trial on behalf of her client, a young man also charged with armed robbery in Georgia. And Hardwick, a Mississippi attorney and single mother, struggles with keeping her job as a public defender while managing her six‐figure student loan debt.

Many public defender offices across the southern U.S. have an incredibly high turnover rate. The pace is exhausting, and the legal wrangling intense, but these young public defenders persevere, knowing the stakes are high—and their clients’ lives will be deeply affected by what they do, or fail to do.

GIDEON’S ARMY is directed and produced by Dawn Porter, a former lawyer and now an award-winning filmmaker with Trilogy Films Production in association with Motto Pictures.

Dawn Porter is available for interviews.

For more information on THE PASSIONATE EYE, visit our website at cbc.ca/passionateeye, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/cbcdocs.

To view past episodes and other CBC programming, visit CBC Player, download the CBC app for your mobile devices, and download CBC podcasts.

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About CBC/Radio-Canada
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About CBC’s In-House Publicity Team
CBC’s team of in-house publicists deliver a comprehensive publicity service for all CBC programming and events. For a complete list of publicity contacts and for more information including series synopses, press releases, hi-res images, video clips and bios, please visit the new CBC Media Centre at cbc.ca/mediacentre. Follow CBC’s publicity team on Twitter @CBC_Publicity.

For further information, or to request interviews, contact:
Corey Black, News and Current Affairs publicist, CBC
416.205.8710 (office)/647.221.4133 (mobile)