The WORLD Beyond Our Own Backyards: Documentaries to Watch in August


As the summer winds to a close, slow down this August with WORLD with films that cast a light on often-overlooked communities and issues here at home and around the globe. Pacific Heartbeat returns with stories from the Pacific Islands that explore fashion, surfing, agriculture and more through the eyes and voices of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women.

This month also marks the second anniversary of the military withdrawal by the U.S. from Afghanistan – watch an encore presentation of Afghanistan: The Wounded Land, four films that provide six decades worth of history of the once prosperous country and sets up why its people, politics and interests remain at odds with one another to this day.

Watch WORLD in August and discover the many sides of the world around us.


Wild Hope
Thursdays beginning August 3 on TV & on the PBS app

Highlighting the intrepid changemakers who are restoring wild places and sparking new hope for the future of the planet, each episode of Wild Hope flips the environmental doom and gloom narrative on its head with stories of bold interventions, unexpected alliances and nature’s resilience.

Ola Hou: Journey to New York Fashion Week | Pacific Heartbeat
August 7 on TV, online & on the PBS app

When Native Hawaiian fashion designer Sharayah Chun-Lai receives an out-of-the blue invitation from the world-renowned Runway 7 to showcase her brand, Ola Hou Designs, at the prestigious New York Fashion Week, she and her supportive family are tossed into a fast-paced world of planning, preparation and runway readiness to bring the spirit of the Big Island to the magic of the Big Apple. 

Island Cowgirls | Pacific Heartbeat
August 14 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Two Hawaiian cowgirls, or paniolo, have dedicated their lives to caring for their family ranches. On the northwest side of Hawai‘i island, as La‘i Bertlemann must make a difficult decision to either stay home in Hawai‘i and continue her family tradition of land stewardship or leave after high school. On the south side, Lani Cran Petrie is at a crossroads as she continues to plan for the future of her ranch while faced with the uncertainty of the state-held lease of the land expiring soon.

Daughters of the Waves | Pacific Heartbeat
August 21 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Although only 20, Vahine Fierro is undaunted by the Teahupoo wave, considered the most dangerous in the world. Vahine surfs as no other Polynesian girl has ever surfed. In Tahitian culture, riding the waves is an ancestral activity from which women had been gradually eliminated, but now surfing is open to women, just in time for the Olympics. Coming from an entire family of surfers, Vahine and her two sisters hope to make a living with their passion and travel the world. 

Hawai'i's Precious Resources | Pacific Heartbeat
August 28 on TV, online & on the PBS app

A collection of three short films asking us to reflect on our relationships with the natural world. KUMU NIU follows a grassroots movement to restore the niu, or coconut, as a staple food crop in Hawai'i; KĀHULI and AFTER THE ENDLING explore how Hawai'i’s native snail species face increasing threats and are rapidly disappearing despite their significant role in its ecosystem and Native Hawaiian culture.


Afghanistan: The Wounded Land – Part 1: Kingdom | Doc World
August 6 on TV, online & PBS app | Available on YouTube 

In the 1960s, King Mohammed Zahir Shah opened up Afghanistan to the world. The city of Kabul looked like a European capital and the country was a destination for hippies in search of drugs and adventures. But Afghanistan was divided between the westernized elite and the majority population that was both traditional and poor. When communists seized power in 1978, a never-ending war began.

Afghanistan: The Wounded Land – Part 2: Jihad | Doc World
August 13 on TV, online & on the PBS app | Available on YouTube

In 1979, the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan; Afghans called for Jihad. The country turned into the epicenter of a struggle between Islam and Communism. The U.S. and the Arab world sent weapons and money to the Afghan resistance and foreign fighters, including a young Osama Bin Laden, joined in. A decade later, the Mujahideen pushed back the occupation, contributing to the Soviet Union's collapse.

Afghanistan: The Wounded Land – Part 3: Taliban | Doc World
August 20 on TV, online & PBS app | Available on YouTube

Although the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan was over, ethnic groups and Mujahideen factions kept fighting. And so, the country entered into a ruthless Civil War. With Pakistan's support and the blessing of the clergy, the Taliban emerged and triumphed, turning Afghanistan into a lab for a new type of Islamic state and the training ground for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Afghanistan: The Wounded Land – Part 4: Trap | Doc World
August 27 on TV, online & PBS app | On YouTube August 18

On September 9, 2001, commander Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated in Afghanistan. 9/11 occurred two days later. This was the first in attacks that Al Qaeda carried out in NY and DC, and the U.S. reacted by bombing and invading Afghanistan. When American troops arrived to secure stability and reconstruction, many Afghans hoped for peace and democracy - their expectations would soon be shattered.


Kid Candidate | America ReFramed
August 3 on TV, online & on the PBS app

A viral joke video catapults Hayden Pedigo – a 24-year-old artist and musician in Amarillo, TX – into the spotlight and prompts him to make a surprise bid for city council. Follow Pedigo’s unorthodox campaign, his goal to upend the status quo and oust corrupt incumbent politicians, while unpacking issues of race, income inequality and gentrification in small-town America.

Wanderlust | Stories from the Stage
August 7 on TV | Available online & on the PBS app

It’s nearly universal - to explore the world and in doing so, learning something about yourself along the way. Julian finds the meaning of home on a road trip to Ohio; Jeffrey delivers a perfect show to a deserted bar in Des Moines, Iowa; and Renata goes ghost hunting in Kentucky and discovers we all have a zany side. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Far East Deep South | America ReFramed
August 10 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Charles Chiu and his family’s search for their roots takes them on an eye-opening journey through the Mississippi Delta, uncovering otherwise unknown stories and the racially complex history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South. This Chinese American family’s unforgettable story offers a poignant and important perspective on race relations, immigration and American identity.

You Can’t Pick Your Family | Stories from the Stage
August 14 on TV | Available online & on the PBS app

Recalling the moments that redefine the meaning of family. Alison is reunited with her distant dad after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis; Rose is left homeless when her father gambles away the family home; and Tae learns about acceptance & love while choosing a musical instrument. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Care | America ReFramed
August 17 on TV, online & on the PBS app

Ninety percent of Americans want to age at home, but many of them have to rely on paid care workers because their families can’t provide the support they need. Witness the many challenges and deep attachments that can be formed between the elderly and the home care workers they depend on and unearth the cracks in a system that is poorly serving both.

It’s All Relative | Stories from the Stage
August 21 on TV | Available online & on the PBS app

Family. Sometimes they choose us, sometimes we choose them. Anoush tries out the party life and finds her family waiting when she crashes; Jerry and his wife become foster parents, and face disaster on day one; and George pranks his overprotective mother with red ink. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Deej | America ReFramed
August 24 on TV, online & on the PBS app

The story of DJ Savarese, a gifted, young writer and advocate for non-speaking autistics. Once a “profoundly disabled” foster kid on a fast track to nowhere, DJ is now a first-year college student who insists on standing up for his peers: people who are dismissed as incompetent because they are neurologically diverse. Will Deej be able to find freedom for himself and others like himself?

Game On! | Stories from the Stage
August 28 on TV | Available online, on Facebook & on the PBS app

You can’t win if you don’t play. And playing can make all the difference. Nora fills in the blanks as the missing pieces person at a jigsaw puzzle company; Olympian ski jumper Nick tells how one leap changed his life forever; and on his first hunting trip, John fears disappointing his dad, an avid hunter. Hosted by Wes Hazard.

Pahokee | America ReFramed
August 31 on TV, online & on the PBS app

In the rural town of Pahokee, four teenagers experience the joys and heartbreaks of their last year in high school. This tightly knit community in the Florida everglades struggles with financial insecurity and pin their hopes for the future on their graduating seniors.

Discuss and engage with us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and TikTok by using the hashtag #WORLD and tagging us @worldchannel. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube for more features including events and interviews.

Enjoy our content? Consider donating to keep important storytelling like this going, and find more on PBS Passport.

Related Content

From Surf and Land to New York Fashion Week: New Films from Pacific Heartbeat

From Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia to Hawai'i, Oceania and beyond, many regions, people and cultures make up the Pacific Islands. Through rich and artistically-told stories about these Indigenous people and places, Pacific Heartbeat centers the beauty and diversity of the Pacific Islands. Four new films premiering in August present contemporary stories from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women.

Pacific Heartbeat

An anthology series that provides viewers a glimpse of the real Pacific.