Vanguard is a no-limits documentary series whose award-winning correspondents put themselves in extraordinary situations to immerse viewers in global issues that have a large social significance. Each documentary takes viewers on in-depth real life adventures in pursuit of some of the world’s most important stories.
Vanguard has received some of the media industry’s highest honors for journalism, including the 69th Annual Peabody Award, given for excellence in electronic media, and the 2010 Television Academy Honor, which recognizes achievements in programming that present issues of concern to society in a compelling, emotional and insightful way.
Vanguard has also been awarded the 2009 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and the 2009 Livingston Award and was nominated four times for a news and documentary Emmy® and also for a sports Emmy®.
For full breakdown of episodes and grouping suggestions, please download the booklet under publicity materials.
Nigerian Oil Gangs, 1 x 30’ SD
Mariana van Zeller travels to Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta, investigating the reasons behind the growing number of kidnappings and attacks in Africa’s largest oil producer and the US’s fifth largest energy supplier.
Russian Neo-Nazis, 1 x 30’ SD
Correspondent Christof Putzel investigates the growing neo-Nazi movement in Russia, as skinheads brutally attack immigrants in the streets and spread their message by posting videos of the violent beatings online.
Elixir Of The Toxic Frog, 1 x 30’ SD
Mariana van Zeller heads to the Brazilian Amazon to search for the fabled Kambo frog, one of many organisms that could hold secrets for modern medicine. But are other potential cures being lost before they can be discovered?
Prison Power Play, 1 x 60’ SD
California State Prison at Corcoran is a maximum security facility that houses some of the most violent inmates in the country. Laura Ling reports on the complex power plays taking place behind bars as various prison gangs vie for power.
Saving Madagascar, 1 x 30’ SD
Adam Yamaguchi travels to the island of Madagascar, where generations-old agricultural practices are putting the nation’s unique environment at great risk.
Notes From The Road, 1 x 30’ SD
Vanguard correspondents share some hair-raising as well as hilarious travel stories.
Meth, Money And Sex, 1 x 30’ SD
Methamphetamine is a bad drug. Most people know this. The Current Vanguard team looks at how the forces of globalization-technology, international networks and transportation have transformed this once obscure pharmaceutical into a global epi¬demic.
Blood Roses And Deadly Diamonds, 1 x 30’ SD
What’s the true price of love? Current Vanguard Journalists head to Colombia and Sierra Leone to explore the unromantic stories behind two symbols of love.
4 Days In Kenya, 1 x 30’ SD
More than a month after elections and the announcement that incumbent president Mwai Kibaki had been elected, The Re-public Of Kenya faces struggles with displacement, protests and violence that has been described as ‘tribal warfare’. Current Correspondant Adrian Baschuk travels to Kenya to investigate the ongoing dilemma.
Smugglers’ Paradise, 1 x 30’ SD
The Triple Frontier in South America has been called a key fundraising centre for criminal and terror groups, Adam Yamaguchi travels to the notorious region.
City On Steroids, 1 x 30’ SD
China is building megacities at a pace and scale the world has never seen before. It’s part of the central government’s plan to bring some of China’s economic boom to its impoverished interior province where three out of four Chinese live. Correspon¬dent Adam Yamahuchi takes a whirlwind tour of Chongqing - from a cramped boarding house where migrant workers live to a starter apartment aimed at China’s new class of yuppies; from ancient, crumbling tea houses to gleaming new car factories.
America’s Secret War With Iran, 1 x 30’ SD
Correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to the Iraq-Iran border to investigate claims that the United States is supporting mili¬tant groups that are attacking Iran. In the rugged Qandil mountains, she meets up with anti-Iranian guerrillas who have been launching deadly raids against the Islamic Republic. A good percentage of the fighters are women, and Mariana accompanies a small group of them through what many believe has become the front line of America’s unspoken war.
The Great American Detour, 1 x 60’ SD
Vanguard producer Lauren Cerre zigzags from Los Angeles to New York on bus, stopping to talk to young Americans about na¬tional issues affecting them in the lead up to the election.
Modern Day Pirates, 1 x 30’ SD
Correspondent Kaj Larsen comes face to face with pirates on the dangerous seas of southeast Asia. These violent thieves hijack ships along vital international trade routes, threatening both sailors and the global economy.
I Heart Global Warming, 1 x 30’ SD
Greenland faces an uncertain future as its greatest defining feature melts away. But instead of fearing climate change, locals are embracing the warm weather and new economic opportunities, from a burgeoning tourism trade to glacial water beer. Correspondent Adam Yamaguchi explores the contradictions of a landscape in transition, and what effects it could have on the rest of the world.
Maxed Out, 1 x 30’ SD
The 18-34 year-old demographic is one that grew up on great wealth and is now facing what could be the first real financial jolt they’ve ever seen. Sixty-five percent of college seniors plan to live with their parents after they graduate. From a college student who has no savings, to a recent graduate trying to move out of his parents’ house, to young people who are trying to stay afloat living on their own, all taking a look at the personal side of the economic crisis.
Chinatown, Africa, 1 x 30’ SD
Vanguard correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to Angola to investigate China’s rapidly growing presence in Africa. An influx of Chinese investments and workers has breathed new life into Angola’s economy, as the two countries work together to build roads, hospitals, schools and even karaoke bars. But is this new business relationship in the best interest of the Angolan people?
Getting Out Of Prison, 1 x 60’ SD
Correspondent Laura Ling follows several young inmates out of prison and into the often losing battle to keep from going back in. With a record two million Americans behind bars, hundreds of thousands of inmates are released on parole every year, and most of them end up going back to prison. Laura takes us through the entire system, from the moment of release, to the first days out of freedom, to the struggle parolees have to resist going back to the lifestyles that originally put them behind bars.
Japan: Robot Nation, 1 x 30’ SD
Correspondent Adam Yamaguchi discovers cutting edge technology may be the answer to Japan’s demographic crisis. As the population shrinks due to low birth rates and tough immigration policies, the Japanese are looking to robots as household com¬panions and vital members of the workforce.
Guns In America, 1 x 60’ SD
The debate on gun control rages on in the U.S. Kaj Larsen investigates the issues of guns and crime in America, from the gun nirvana of Knob Creek, Kentucky to one of the most dangerous cities in the country, Camden, New Jersey.
The Most Controversial Jail In The World, 1 x 30’ SD
While the families of 9/11 victims want the Guantanamo Bay detention camps to remain open, President-elect Barack Obama and many other critics believe the military prison is a failure of the American government. After working for a year and a half to arrange media access to the camp, Adrian Baschuk reports from the controversial detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hot, SexXy Young, 1 x 30' SD
Vanguard producer Cerissa Tanner takes us to the streets of Oakland, CA where teen prostitution is on the rise as drug dealers shift from selling dope to selling young women.
Battle Of Saipan, 1 x 30’ SD
Once the ultimate globalization success story, the island of Saipan now faces one of the fastest economic collapses in history. After suffering a harsh history of military struggles as well as a temporary economic boom after becoming a U.S. common¬wealth, the island now stands devastated. Factories remain empty, rotting shopping centers litter the country, and former factory workers turn to the sex industry for survival. Adam Yamaguchi visits Saipan to document the rise and fall of a tiny piece of America.
Mexican Drug Wars, 1 x 60’ SD
Laura Ling investigates the battle for control of drug smuggling routes in Mexico as corruption and violence rattle local citizens.
The Beach Of Death, 1 x 30’ SD
Fleeing from years of civil unrest, Somali refugees risk their lives, traveling through shark and pirate-infested waters to find relative peace in Yemen. In a follow up to their Emmy-nominated documentary from Somalia in 2006, Kaj Larsen and Christof Putzel return to the Horn of Africa to investigate one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Lost Vegas, 1 x 30’ SD
Correspondent Laura Ling travels to Las Vegas, a great American boomtown, as the housing bubble bursts.
Outsourcing Unemployment, 1 x 30’ SD
Adam Yamaguchi travels to China, where tens of millions have lost their jobs due to the US outsourcing its manufacturing jobs.
Thank You, Recession, 1 x 30’ SD
Producers Lauren Cerre and Tracey Chang set out to learn from the people of Argentina, a country that went through its own economic crisis in 2001.
The OxyContin Express, 1 x 60’ HD
Peabody Award-winning exposé of the prescription drug epidemic and its effects on pill addicts, their families and the po¬lice officers struggling to keep up with the deadly game of supply and demand. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller follows America’s largest pill pipeline from its epicenter in Broward County, Florida to the Appalachian Mountains, where “pillbillies” buy, sell and use narcotics trafficked in from the Sunshine State.
Cuba: Waiting For A Revolution, 1 x 30’ SD
Vanguard Correspondent Adrian Baschuk travels to the last remaining Communist state in the western hemisphere to see how hard life really is there and investigates whether or not there exists any possibility of regime change.
Forest Of Ecstasy, 1 x 30’ SD
International drug syndicates have exhausted the Vietnamese supply of safrole oil, the raw ingredient in the club drug Ecstasy. But the mountains of Cambodia are overflowing with the oil, and a single litre can produce up to $200,000 worth of pills. Cor¬respondent Adam Yamaguchi joins a squad of armed forest rangers on a search and destroy mission to take out the hidden labs and stop the black market operation in its tracks.
Notes From A War On Terror, 1 x 30’ SD
Mariana van Zeller travels to Sri Lanka to see how the Tamil Tigers, one of the world’s most lethal and influential terrorist organizations, were finally defeated.
Porn 2.0, 1 x 30’ SD
Christof Putzel takes a behind the scenes look at the porn industry, examining its history and impact on the ever-changing face of new media.
Prison Contraband, 1 x 60’ SD
Contributor Janet Choi goes inside a California state prison to investigate contraband smuggled inside the cells, and how cell¬phones are the new security threat.
High Tech Warfare/ Remote Control Warfare, 1 x 30’ SD
Robots are the future of warfare: on the ground, in the sky and behind enemy lines. Soldiers manoeuver mechanical scouts and gun-toting rovers with video game controllers, while unmanned planes can drop bombs over Afghanistan with their pilots safe behind the controls in Nevada. But is technology making war too easy?
Cocaine Mafia, 1 x 30’ SD
Europeans consume 146 tons of cocaine every year--but where does it come from? Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel travels to southern Italy to investigate how Europe’s growing appetite for coke is funding the growth of West African drug and prostitution rings, while fueling a bloody turf war with Italy’s largest mafia organization, the Camorra.
Captive In North Korea, 1 x 30’ HD
Journalist Laura Ling provides harrowing details of how she and producer Euna Lee were apprehended and held in North Korea while on assignment covering human trafficking in Asia. Personal accounts, letters and never-before-seen footage from Ling, Lee and producer Mitch Koss reveal the team’s experiences at the center of a widely publicized international standoff.
Missionaries Of Hate, 1 x 60’ HD
Correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to Uganda, where many question whether the growing influence of American religious groups has led to a movement to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. As an anti-gay movement spreads across the continent, gay Africans and their families face an increasingly uncertain future of isolation, imprisonment or even execution.
Rape On The Reservation, 1 x 60’ HD
According to national statistics, one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where the culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse has driven female residents to lives of quiet desperation. Many of those women have begun to fear for their lives, after the battered, naked body of a high school student was discovered in an abandoned house on the reservation. In this intimate documentary, rape survivors, past sex offenders and an overwhelmed police force offer a glimpse of the disturbing social attitudes and escalating violence threatening the Rosebud community.
World’s Toilet Crisis, 1 x 60’ HD
Correspondent Adam Yamaguchi investigates one of the world’s biggest public health crises: the 2.6 billion people living with¬out toilets. Modern plumbing has not caught up to the exploding population in India, where the Yamuna River runs black with sewage and bubbles with methane gas as citizens openly defecate along the riverbank. In Indonesia, a “toilet evangelist” spreads the good word about sanitation to both consumers and entrepreneurs, hoping to create a market for affordable com¬modes in developing countries. Without sanitary methods for disposing of waste, approximately 40% of the global population is subjected to an ongoing pandemic of intestinal afflictions that kill two million people a year.
Soccer’s Lost Boys, 1 x 60’ HD
Young West African soccer players dream of going pro--but those dreams quickly become nightmares as they fall prey to the growing number of unlicensed agents, illegitimate soccer academies and shady middlemen looking to exploit them. Cor¬respondent Mariana van Zeller investigates this “new slave trade,” as some 20,000 African soccer hopefuls find themselves stranded in Europe with no way home. Some of these trafficked players are forced underground, playing in black market games in last-ditch efforts to get noticed by agents and managers. Thousands more athletes never make it as far as the shores of Europe, stuck in African port towns with little hope and even fewer options.
Soldiers In Prison, 1 x 60’ HD
It’s estimated that as many as a third of the more than two million returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan have been di¬agnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While effects of PTSD are still being studied, some authorities question whether the disorder can be linked to a sudden rise in violent crimes. Correspondent Kaj Larsen investigates several of these cases, including a former Army medic in Arizona awaiting trial for allegedly murdering his girlfriend. In Oregon, an Iraq War veteran who stood trial for murder discusses his successful insanity plea based on his PTSD. And in Colorado, a high concentration of military bases leaves local police to combat bar fights and more extreme violence--since the start of the Iraq War, 17 Army soldiers from Fort Carson have been charged with murder or attempted murder. Can innovative “veterans’ only” courts stop the violence before it escalates?
American Jihadi, 1 x 60’ HD
Omar Hammami grew up in Alabama, attending church on Sundays and earning a reputation as a bright and popular student. Today he lives in Somalia under the name Abu Monsoor Al-Amriki, and he’s a member of an Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group. Correspondent Christof Putzel retraces Omar’s path to terrorism, from his hometown to Toronto, where he married a Somali-Canadian woman who introduced him to the local Somali community. From there, Omar moved with his wife to Egypt, and eventually severed ties with his family before disappearing into Somalia. There he has become a powerful force for Al-Qaeda propaganda, creating inflammatory online videos aimed at disaffected Muslim youth in the West.
Mexico’s Death Train, 1 x 30’ HD
Crossing the border between Mexico and the United States is only the final step in the treacherous journey that more than a million illegal immigrants attempt each year. Every day hundreds of desperate Central Americans climb atop “El Train de la Muerte,” a freight train that offers a free--but potentially deadly--ride through Mexico. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller vis¬its a shelter for those who’ve been maimed in falls from the train, and follows a group of young female El Salvadorans willing to risk everything they have to make it to America, where they hope to find jobs and send money back home to their families.
Life And Death On The Border, 1 x 60’ HD
Correspondent Christof Putzel travels to the U.S./Mexico border to investigate one of the most contentious issues in America today: immigration. Meeting with “coyotes,” the hired smugglers who offer to take illegals across the border for a fee, Putzel learns the methods immigrants use to evade border patrol and the dangers they face on the journey. Arrest and deportation are inherent risks, but the lack of water and scorching temperatures of the desert crossing are far more deadly. Those who do make it safely across the border face tightening immigration laws and an increasingly hostile public. Putzel ultimately crosses the border with a migrant and coyote.
Marijuana Wars, Part 1, 1 x 60’ HD
California has become one of the leading producers of marijuana in the world--most of it produced by Mexican drug traffick¬ing organizations. And the proceeds from marijuana have become a cash cow for traffickers, generating greater profits than cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin combined. Executive producer and correspondent Adam Yamaguchi embeds with a task force working to take down Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating in the U.S.
Marijuana Wars, Part 2, 1 x 60’ HD
Executive producer and correspondent Adam Yamaguchi joins an elite task force as they survey and eradicate multi-million dollar marijuana fields run by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Cameras follow undercover operatives as they launch an operation to stop marijuana production by taking down the low-level planters, drug transporters and even the drug financiers themselves. The agents explain how the tentacles of Mexican drug cartels are reaching the east coast of the U.S., creating operation and distribution hubs--and bringing the war much closer to home.
Gateway To Heroin, 1 x 60’ HD
Boston is now home to the nation’s highest rate of opiate (heroin, oxycodone) addiction and overdose. Vanguard correspondent Mariana van Zeller investigates the story behind the dra¬matic spike in drug abuse over the course of the last decade. Her reporting “Hillbilly Heroin” has now uncovered a disturbing new trend: an alarming escalation among addicts from pre¬scription drugs to heroin, a cheaper and more potent alternative to OxyContin that’s all too readily available on the streets of New England.
Sex, Lies & Cigarettes, 1 x 60’ HD
The Smoking Baby. The 2-year-old is more than just a YouTube sensation. He’s also become the unwitting poster child for a 21st century showdown. Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel travels to Indonesia -- the land of smoking toddlers and cigarette sponsored every¬thing -- where the stage is set for a David vs. Goliath battle as a small, underfunded group of concerned citizens battle Big Tobacco and a government drunk on profits and denial. “Sex, Lies & Cigarettes” charts Big Tobacco’s attempt to expand its reach into Indonesia, which by all accounts has become the “Wild West” of cigarette marketing and promotion.
Sushi To The Slaughter, 1 x 60’ HD
From Siberia to the Amazon, you can now get your sushi fix in some of the most remote regions of the world. What was once one nation’s cuisine has, in a matter of 20 years, gone global. But the world’s insatiable appetite for sushi comes at a cost. Vanguard corre¬spondent, Adam Yamaguchi, a ravenous sushi consumer since childhood, travels across the country and then across oceans as he explores the threat to his favorite delicacy. Due to its popularity, and thus overfishing, the creature credited with sourcing more sushi than any other, finds itself on the brink of extinction. Adam visits the famous Tsukiji fish market in his ancestral homeland of Japan, where the world’s best fish is bought and sold to the vendors from around the world. He also visits the nether regions of the country where leading edge research is underway in an effort to stave off impending doom: the disappearance of the Bluefin Tuna.
City Of God, Guns & Gangs, 1 x 60’ HD
For decades, Rio de Janeiro’s sprawling favelas (slums) have been under the control of heavily armed drug gangs. But now, the government of Brazil wants to take them back, and reform one of the world’s most unequal and violent cities. The plan is part of a bold new initiative to give Brazil’s most picturesque city a facelift before the world turns its eyes on the country for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller finds out that the traditional rulers of Rio’s favelas are not ceding control without a fight. The government of Brazil has promised to continue its campaign, and provide a blue¬print for one of the most pressing and perplexing questions in our increasingly urban world: how to transform, develop and integrate sprawling, often crime-ridden slums.
Tiger Farms, 1 x 60’ HD
The wild tiger is among the world’s most endangered species, pushed to the brink of extinc¬tion in large part by poachers who are killing the animals for profit. The illicit tiger parts trade is worth billions of dollars and nowhere is it more active than in China, the world’s leading consumer of illegal wildlife. Nearly two decades ago, the Chinese government in¬stituted a series of conservation efforts ostensibly aimed at saving the tiger from what ap¬peared to be its imminent demise, but correspondent Adam Yamaguchi goes undercover and exposes flagrant and widespread violation of China’s tiger trade laws. At the heart of Yama¬guchi’s investigation are China’s many tiger parks, touted as safe-haven preserves. In truth, as evidenced by the material that “Vanguard” gathers, these parks may be anything but.
This (Illegal) American Life, 1 x 60’ HD
There are 12 million people living unlawfully in the United States. In this episode of “Van¬guard,” correspondent Mariana van Zeller explores the lives of two of them: a senior at UCLA named Ilse who crossed the border from Mexico in the trunk of a car at age 3 and a strawber¬ry picker named Filemon who lives in an Oxnard flophouse with 19 other people so that he can send money back to his family in Oaxaca. In their stories, van Zeller finds testament to both the power of the American Dream and the absolute failure of American border policies.
Recovery High, 1 x 60’ HD
Northshore Recovery High is a school outside Boston that is dedicated solely to students dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. This is the story of a year in the life of that school, as told through the eyes of three students and the guiding force behind the school, Principal Michelle Lipinski.
Arming The Mexican Cartels, 1 x 60’ HD
In “Arming The Mexican Cartels,” Christof Putzel and the Renaud Brothers report from Juarez, Mexico, commonly known as the Murder Capital of the World. American guns are flooding across the border into Mexico, arming deadly cartel drug wars which continue to spiral out of control. Embedded with Mexican Police, Army Special Forces and Juarez CSI teams, Christof takes viewers on a journey where few dare to go, following a trail of blood, drugs and guns that inevitably leads back to the United States.
Islamaphobia, 1 x 60’ HD
From New York to London, “Vanguard” correspondent Adam Yamaguchi examines the rising tide of Islamophobia on both sides of the Atlantic. Following 9/11, the fear of future attacks paired with the growing number of Muslims across Europe and America has given birth to an aggressive new network of anti-Muslim alarmists.
Under The Knife Abroad, 1 x 60’ HD
In “Under the Knife Abroad,” Adam Yamaguchi travels to India, Mexico and Barbados to investigate one industry flourishing in these tough economic times: medical tourism. Ameri¬cans are increasingly being forced to seek medical care overseas, often life or death proce¬dures, because they can’t afford it here at home. Is healthcare America’s next industry to be outsourced to foreign lands?
The War On Weed, 1 x 60’ HD
In “The War on Weed,” Christof Putzel travels coast to coast to investigate the bizarre range of marijuana laws and enforcement in America. In California, legalized medical marijuana has led to something of a free for all and the Feds are cracking down. In Colorado, medical marijuana is protected by the state constitution and millionaire entrepreneurs have set up shop. In New York City, African-American men are arrested by the tens of thousands for low-level pot possession.
Two Americans, 1 x 60’ HD
Vanguard’s “Two Americas” takes a ground-level survey of the growing economic disparity in America, profiling a month in the lives of two families in very different income brackets.
The 99 Percent, 1 x 60’ HD
In “The 99 Percent,” Christof Putzel moves into Zuccotti Park to explore the Occupy Wall Street movement from the inside. Produced by Brent and Craig Renaud.
Cage Fighting In The USA, 1 x 60’ HD
Mariana van Zeller explores the fastest growing sport in America - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). MMA is now a billion-dollar industry, watched by millions on national TV. But increasingly, amateurs are stepping onto the mat and drawing blood. Mariana meets male and female cage fighters to understand why they love this violent sport. And she spends time in a church run by “The Fight Pastor,” who ministers a flock of young men who fight for Jesus.