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The Make Believe Issue

Check Out the Most Recent Crop of VICE Documentaries

VICE News explores sex work in Japan, Noisey documents an up-and-coming rapper in Tel Aviv, and Motherboard investigates an aging, hazardous oil pipeline in Michigan. This is a guide to where we've been and where we're going.

This article originally appeared in the August Issue of VICE Magazine

A New Wave of Iraqi Cinema

Due to continuous conflict in the region, the development of artistic endeavors in Iraq has been compromised over time. Yet, in the past few years, there's been a national resurgence in Iraqi film. In Art World, a new series by the Creators Project, we follow Iraqi filmmakers Mohamed Al-Daradji (Son of Babylon) and Yahya Al Allaq (War Canister) through Baghdad to see how they make movies despite the lack of a national film industry. Blurring the lines between reality and cinema, these movies are shot in real locations, using locals as actors and improvised dialogue in the chaotic city streets. We visit the Iraqi Independent Film Center, where the filmmakers mentor young and emerging artists, teaching them the ins and outs of screenwriting and film production. These are the filmmakers shaping Iraqi cinema today.


Check out this episode of Art World above, and read more on The Creators Project.

Aging Oil Pipelines in the the Great Lakes

The world's largest crude transporter has a secret buried deep in the Great Lakes—two aging oil pipelines that transport 23 million gallons of crude through the largest body of freshwater on Earth. Enbridge, the company that operates the pipelines, insists that the two 20-inch pipelines stretching across the Straits of Mackinac could last indefinitely. But one look at the company's environmental record tells another story: Enbridge had more than 800 spills in North America between 1999 and 2010, dumping nearly 6.8 million gallons of oil. Activists have independently verified that parts of the pipeline—built in 1953—are sitting unsupported on the bottom of the lake and are in major need of repair. We traveled to Michigan—oil-spill central—to investigate the threats of crude being transported through one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world.

Watch Oil & Water now above, and read more on Motherboard.

Hip-Hop in the Holy Land

After exploring the rap scenes of Chicago and Atlanta and examining their wider societal impact, Noisey investigates hip-hop in the Holy Land in a six-part documentary series hosted and co-directed by Mike Skinner, previously of the Streets. Skinner travels to Tel Aviv to meet Ohad Cohen, a secular Jewish kid who was part of the city's nascent rap scene in his teenage years. Cohen has now become fully immersed in the ultra-Orthodox community but still harbors dreams of making it as a rapper and uses his music to spread his messianic faith. As they drive around the city, Cohen opens up about understanding art that strays from his personal values, the political situation in the region, and how the scars of the heavy history of his ancestors directly influence modern life.


Watch Noisey Israel Palestine: Hip-Hop in the Holy Land above, and check out the other episodes on Noisey.

Schoolgirls for Sale in Japan

Japan's obsession with cutesy culture has taken a dark turn, with schoolgirls now offering themselves for "walking dates" with adult men. Last year, in its annual report on human trafficking, the US State Department flagged so-called joshi-kosei osanpo dates (that's Japanese for "high school walking") as fronts for commercial sex run by sophisticated criminal networks. In our exclusive investigation, host Simon Ostrovsky visits Tokyo's busiest neighborhoods, where girls solicit clients in their school uniforms; goes to a concert performed by a band of schoolgirls popular among adult men; and visits a café where teenage girls are available to hire by the hour. But the true revelations come behind closed doors, when schoolgirls involved in the rent-a-date industry reveal how they've been coerced into prostitution.

Watch Schoolgirls for Sale now on VICE News.

Cash Slaves

Fetish culture has proliferated online as people with any turn-on imaginable have become able to find like-minded companions. One perplexing fetish is financial domination, for those who fetishize money—or, rather, fetishize giving it up. There's no sex in financial domination. Instead, "cash slaves" get off on giving up increasingly high increments of their money, oftentimes intentionally pushing themselves into debt or even bankruptcy. While stories of high-powered politicians and executives being addicted to financial domination have circulated over the past few years, the drive behind the erotic allure of crippling your bank account has been largely unexplored. We made our way around the US, from San Francisco to Knoxville to NYC, to try to understand the most capitalistic kink on the market.

Cash Slaves is coming to soon, but watch our other recent docs in the meantime here.