‘The Windermere Children,’ ‘Masterpiece: Beecham House’ and ‘The Queen at War’ Among Titles on DVD and Digital From PBS in June

The Windermere Children, Masterpiece: Beecham House, The Queen at War and several “Nature” and “Nova” programs are among the titles PBS Distribution in June will release on DVD and through digital retailers.

Available now is The Windermere Children, a dramatization based on the true story of 300 children who were saved from the Nazi concentration camps, along with a documentary on the subject. The drama’s cast is led by Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (“Strangers”) and Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”). In the dramatization, child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschamann), art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen) have been given the task of looking after the children once they arrive. By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting and begin to heal. Some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Ultimately alone, the children are haunted by nightmares and hope for news about the families they left behind.

Also available now is the documentary Nature: Remarkable Rabbits. There are more than 100 domestic and wild kinds of rabbits, from swamp rabbits and Flemish giants to snowshoe hares. Yet, these prolific creatures are often overlooked and rarely get the respect they deserve — due, in part, to their adorable appearance and storybook depictions. Learn how hares are more than just a rabbit with long ears and legs, how rabbits have managed to survive in ever-changing landscapes — in downtown Chicago or Canada’s frozen boreal forest — and how they turn the table on their predators. Despite their remarkable ability to reproduce, many wild rabbits are in danger of being eradicated. Viewers join scientists in the field as they work tirelessly to save rabbit species from the brink of extinction and reveal ground-breaking new discoveries.

Also available is Nature: Cuba’s Wild Revolution. As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is teeming with exotic biodiversity and host to spectacular wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. Jumping crocodiles of the Zapata swamp, the world’s tiniest hummingbird, thousands of migrating crabs, giant bat-eating boas that lie in wait for easy prey, coral reefs pulsating with life, and five-foot-long Cuban rock iguanas all call this island home. Decades of a socialist, conservation-minded government, American embargoes, and minimal development have left the island virtually unchanged for 50 years. As international relations ease, what will become of the spectacularly biodiverse wildlife sanctuary in this Caribbean paradise?

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Season one of “Expedition With Steve Backshall” is also available. In this new series, adventurer and naturalist Backshall ventures into undiscovered territory, endures extreme physical challenges, encounters extraordinary wildlife, and teams up with remarkable people. From free-diving in underground river systems descending deep into the caves of the Maya underworld to kayaking Himalayan whitewater and scaling unclimbed Arctic peaks, these expeditions push Backshall and his expert crew to the limit. Some of the locations he explores include Oman’s Dhofar Mountains where he is the first to ascend the desert rock face, a Bornean cave system that has only recently been spotted from a dark shadow on a satellite image, and Greenland where he will attempt to summit an unclimbed mountain in the country’s remotest peaks.

Available June 16 is The Queen at War, examining Queen Elizabeth’s childhood as she endured WWII and how her actions impacted England as a whole. Narrated by Phyllis Logan (“Downton Abbey”), viewers take a look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch in history. The documentary offers a fascinating look at how Princess Elizabeth, just 13 years old when World War II broke out, was set on her life’s path to become a legendary monarch. Together with sister Margaret, the young princesses became symbols of hope for a nation wracked by a horrific war, the terrors of the Blitz and the relocation of over a million children. By 1945, Elizabeth had been transformed from a shy girl into a confident young woman and proved her mettle as a driver and mechanic in the women’s branch of the army. She was also already in love with the handsome naval officer she would one day marry. Told through the reminiscences of friends, including Lady Glenconner, royal biographers Christopher Warwick, Robert Lacey, Jane Dismore and Hugh Vickers, among others, the documentary features rare footage of the Queen’s war years culled from private and public collections.

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Also due June 16 is the documentary Nova: Cuba’s Cancer Hope. In Cuba, as in the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Decades of economic and political isolation have starved the country of medical resources, leading Cuba’s biomedical researchers to get creative and invent their own immunotherapies. Among them are very promising lung cancer vaccines that can help jumpstart the body’s immune response to cancer. Some U.S. patients are even defying their country’s trade embargo to travel to Cuba for treatment. The program explores the fascinating history of Cuban biomedical research and follows the journey of two cancer patients, one from the island and one from the United States, receiving the new vaccines. As they prove effective in some patients, Cuban scientists are teaming up with a leading U.S. cancer institute to develop an even more effective treatment by combining the best of both countries’ research and medical technologies.

Due June 30 is the drama Masterpiece: Beecham House. From filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like BeckhamBlinded by the Light), Beecham House takes place in 19th century India at the start of the British Empire. The six-part miniseries explores the life of the mysterious John Beecham, a former East India Company employee who buys an imposing mansion in Delhi. Starring Tom Bateman (Vanity FairJekyll and Hyde) as John, Lesley Nicol (“Downton Abbey”) as his mother Henrietta Beecham, and Leo Suter (Sanditon) as his brother Daniel, Beecham House follows the twists and turns, and complex relationships of John and those that surrounded and live in the mansion with him.

Coming June 30 is the documentary Nova: The Truth About Fat. For generations, fat has been the enemy, and overweight individuals have been stigmatized and shamed. Society has demonized it as a cumbersome health risk and cast overweight individuals as too gluttonous or lazy to make healthy choices, but scientists are coming to understand that fat is not so simple. In fact, it’s a fascinating and dynamic organ — one that has more to do with biological processes than personal choices. “Nova” asks and answers the questions that surround fat. Do we control our fat or does it control us? Why don’t sumo wrestlers suffer from the health problems that other obese people do? Why has evolution hardwired us to hang onto fat even when it’s unhealthy? What would happen if you had no fat at all? Through real-life stories of hunter-gatherers, supermodels, and a “Biggest Loser” contestant, the program explores the complex functions of fat and the role it plays in controlling hunger, hormones and even reproduction.

Disney+ to Stream ‘Elephant’ Nature Film Narrated by Meghan Markle for Earth Month

In recognition of Earth Month, Disney+ will stream the Disneynature film Elephant, narrated by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, beginning April 3 alongside previously announced Dolphin Reef, with narration by actress Natalie Portman.

Following its theatrical release last year, the Disneynature film Penguins will also make its Disney+ debut April 3.

The Earth Month collection on Disney+ will also contain additional Disneynature titles premiering on the service April 3, including In the Footsteps of Elephant, A Life on the Edge and Diving with Dolphins, which give viewers behind-the-scenes access into the unique filmmaking process of all three films.

The films will join a collection of animal and nature titles highlighted throughout the month including National Geographic’s America’s National Parks, Wild Yellowstone, The Flood, JANE, Before the Floods, Planet of the Birds, Sea of Hope: America’s Underwater Treasures, Kingdom of the White Wolf, Tree Climbing Lions, Hostile Planet and Wild Russia.

Elephant follows African elephant Shani and her spirited son Jomo as their herd make an epic journey hundreds of miles across the vast Kalahari Desert. Led by their great matriarch, Gaia, the family faces brutal heat, dwindling resources and persistent predators, as they follow in their ancestor’s footsteps on a quest to reach a lush, green paradise.

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In recognition of Elephant, Disneynature and the Disney Conservation Fund are supporting Elephants Without Borders, an organization working in Botswana to ensure people and elephants thrive, according to the Disney release.  Elephants Without Borders is working on strategies to protect Botswana’s elephant haven, helping to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, economic development, and solutions that either redirect elephant migration away from people, or provide communities with tools that help to protect themselves and their properties when elephants are nearby.

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Dolphin Reef introduces Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin who can’t quite decide if it’s time to grow up and take on new responsibilities. Dolphin society is tricky, and the coral reef that Echo and his family call home depends on all of its inhabitants to keep it healthy.

‘In the Age of AI,’ ‘Fire in Paradise’ and ‘Nature’s Biggest Beasts’ Among PBS Docs on DVD and Digital in January

In the Age of AI, Frontline: Fire in Paradise, Nature: Nature’s Biggest Beasts, American Masters — Rothko: Pictures Must be Miraculous and Nova: Why Bridges Collapse are among the documentaries on DVD and digital from PBS Distribution this January.

A year after the devastating Camp Fire, who’s to blame and why was it so catastrophic? Fire in Paradise explores this question with accounts from survivors and first responders, telling the inside story of the most destructive fire in California history, its causes and the impact of climate change.

In the Age of AI, due Jan. 14, takes a journey into how this new technology will transform our world — and some of the ways it already has. It’s been called “The New Space Race.” This time it’s China taking on the United States, and the race is to seize control of a technology with the potential to change everything — the way we work; how we play; how our democracy functions; how the world could be realigned. “Frontline” explores some of the ways in which our world is being re-shaped and reimagined by the technology of artificial intelligence, whose development has been compared to the industrial revolution and the discovery of electricity as an epochal event in human history. The film traces the battle between the U.S. and China to harness its power, examining fears about what AI advances mean for the future of work and revealing how AI algorithms are ushering in an age of both great problem-solving potential and of new and troubling threats to privacy and democracy.

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Okavango: River of Dreams, explores the Okavango River in Southern Africa, an unlikely oasis and lush paradise in the middle of a hostile desert that supports and feeds an incredible abundance of wildlife. Unlike most rivers that flow toward the shores of a nearby ocean, it instead runs inland through Botswana, creating a huge river delta before finally disappearing into the Kalahari Desert. An all-star cast of charismatic African wildlife lives and dies in the timeless drama of survival revealed in the program.

Nature’s Biggest Beasts, due Jan. 14, covers the ingenious strategies that nature’s biggest beasts employ to conquer their environments, from the Komodo dragon with a deadly bite to the tallest giraffe to the bird-eating Armored ground cricket. Being massive can have its advantages, but it brings equally immense challenges to survive. Big bodies need more fuel, more space and can attract unwanted attention.

Bears, due Jan. 28, covers animals from the mighty grizzly bear to the endearing spectacled bear (the real-life “Paddington Bear”), from the bamboo-eating panda to the bizarre-looking sloth bear. Among the biggest land mammals on the planet, bears need a lot of resources to survive and must use all of their skills, brawn and brains to get what they need — whether they’re foraging for honeycombs or tasty plants, standing up to their rivals or raising cubs.

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Available now is Why Bridges Collapse, which experts compare what happened to the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, with other deadly bridge collapses, including Minnesota’s I-35W bridge over the Mississippi and the ill-fated Silver Bridge over the Ohio River. Thousands of bridges across the United States and Europe that are listed as structurally deficient. How can new technologies and engineering improvements make bridges across the world safer and more durable than ever before?

Look Who’s Driving, coming Jan. 14, explores autonomous vehicles, which are now being tested on public roads around the world. Dozens of startups have sprung up alongside established auto and tech giants — which are also testing the waters — to form what many hope will be a transformative new industry. But as innovators rush to cash in on what they see as the next high-tech pot of gold, some experts warn there are still daunting challenges to overcome — like how to train computers to make life-and-death decisions as well as humans can. “Nova” peers under the hood of the autonomous vehicle industry to investigate how driverless cars work, how they may change the way we live, and whether we will ever be able to entrust them with our lives.

Rise of the Mammals, due Jan. 21, explores how the course of life on Earth changed radically on a single day 66 million years ago. Blasting our planet, an asteroid caused the extinction of three of every four kinds of living things. The impact ended the Age of Dinosaurs and launched our age, the Age of Mammals. But our understanding of the asteroid’s aftermath has been spotty. Who survived? How quickly did mammals and their habitats spring back? How did our planet recover from this global cataclysm? Now a remarkable find — a trove of exceptionally preserved fossils from the critical first million years after the catastrophe — shines a revelatory light on what followed Earth’s darkest hour. With exclusive access, viewers see the discovery from the first moments of the initial find in 2016. Providing a rare record that combines plants, animals, and precise dates, the discovery paints a vivid portrait of the emergence of a brand-new world.

Dead Sea Scroll Detectives, coming Jan. 21, explores one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time — the Dead Sea Scrolls — was made by a Bedouin shepherd boy in 1947. Since the 2,000-year-old scrolls were first taken from a cave, they’ve intrigued scholars, religious leaders and profiteers alike. These fragile parchment relics include the oldest known versions of the Hebrew Bible and hold vital clues about the birth of Christianity. While some scrolls have survived intact, others have been ravaged by time — burnt, decayed, or torn to pieces — and remain an enigma. Now, scientists are using new technologies to read the unreadable, solve mysteries that have endured for millennia, and even discover million-dollar fakes.

Rothko: Pictures Must be Miraculous is a portrait of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko, whose luminous canvasses now set records at international auctions. Rothko’s signature style helped define Abstract Expressionism, the movement that shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York. Interviews with Rothko’s children, Kate and Christopher, as well as leading curators, art historians and conservators present a comprehensive look at the artist’s life and career, complemented by scenes with Alfred Molina in the role of Rothko. Molina performs segments from Rothko’s writings, and the documentary features clips from the six-time Tony-winning play Red.

Shout! Factory Sets Home Disc Release Date for ‘Turtle Odyssey’ Doc

Indie home entertainment distributor Shout! Factory has set a Dec. 3 release date for Caspar Mazzotti and Paul Phelan’s film Turtle Odyssey: Bunji’s Big Adventure. The 2018 documentary will be available as a 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with regular Blu-ray, and on DVD.

The Australian film, which is narrated by Russell Crowe, features the unique lifecycle of a sea turtle named Bunji and her journey across the ocean. The film follows Bunji from a hatchling into adulthood as she swims thousands of miles, meeting various different creatures and having some wild encounters. She eventually migrates back to the  beach she was born to lay her eggs that are the foundation for the next generation.

Turtle Odyssey, which grossed over $135,000 in the Australian box office, utilizes the new Imax Enhanced technology, which offers an expanded aspect ratio and immersive sound for an enhanced viewing experience.