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Best of Staff Picks: December 2015

Ian Durkin
January 14, 2016 by Ian Durkin Staff

We’re only 14 days into the new year and already the world feels different. We’ve lost our shining starman, a Vimeo member at that, and suddenly it feels like anything can happen. What once felt certain is now up to chance. It’s unsettling, but with the unrest leaves the potential for progress. New creators and videos are on the horizon. Ever-changing techniques will go places we never expected. But before we push off into the unknown, let’s take one more look back to 2015 and a lineup of videos from December’s Staff Picks that are ushering in the next video wave.

“CAN YOU READ MY LIPS?” from Little Moving Pictures

Little Moving Pictures poses the question, “What’s it like to use one sense to do the work of another?” For most people, it is hard to imagine. It’s a luxury to not have to consider the difficulties involved with relying on reading lips to communicate. However, with their immersive film “CAN YOU READ MY LIPS?”, we can all feel and understand the struggle that comes with this task. Based on the essay “Seeing at the Speed of Sound” by Rachel Kolb, who narrates and stars in the film, Little Moving Pictures smartly utilizes the video format to effectively evoke empathy from the viewer, while also teaching them something in the process.

“Digits” from Alexander Engel

Creator Alexander Engel has such a talent for making films that feel incredibly honest and spot on to the petty plights of the modern-day millennial. You may remember him from his classic tale of two roommates, and “Digits,” which may be his best offering yet, fits right in line with the genre. When the protagonist loses the last two digits of a girl’s phone number, he goes through the trouble to try every combination possible. Hilarity, and relatable agony ensues.

“UNCANNY VALLEY (2015)” from 3DAR

In the future, grabbing a bite to eat means 3D printing a meal, and virtual reality gameplay becomes so enjoyable that it makes drugs look boring. This new digital addiction has its own breed of junkies: those who can exist in a virtual world where their violent tendencies and fantasies can be acted out without punishment. But when one of them finds a glitch in the gaming universe, it appears that what they’re playing is more real than they thought.

“I Have Dreamed Of You So Much” from Emma Vakarelova

“I Have Dreamed Of You So Much” brings us a visual style so remarkably refreshing with its fusion of mediums that we were instantly entranced. Based on Robert Desnos’ poem, “J’ai tant rêvé de toi,” artist and filmmaker Emma Vakarelova weaves a story of a cosmic love affair with earthly relatability: a horizon impossibly falls in love with his counterpart, the night sky. In doing so, Vakarelova creates a flowing world of color and surreal characters, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of her work.

“A Reasonable Request” from Andrew Laurich

After taking home a runner’s-up award from our Top Videos of 2015 list in the Narrative category, Andrew Laurich’s surprising comedy is not one to be missed. In his film, a desperate son asks his father for a favor that will be sure to warp your perception of what is exactly “reasonable.” And perhaps a warning: this one shouldn’t be watched with your kids. Or your grandparents. Or your parents probably either.

“11x HUMAN” from John Merizalde

A terrific and unexpected offering from the Fashion category, “11x HUMAN” knocked us back with its ambitious social critiques and impressive execution from director John Merizalde. Narration by Killer Mike poetically considers modern humanity and the evils that plague us through the forms of crime and racism, and Merizalde blends this into a variety of video aesthetics and street imagery to create one of the more striking branded pieces we saw in 2015.

“UNTETHERED” from Leftcoast Media House

Anytime “free solo” — the act of climbing, or in this case, slacklining — without any rope support enters an equation, it is worth one’s time and consideration. The act itself, simply put, is death-defying. Humans are pushing personal boundaries within themselves that were designed to keep them alive, and yet, they remain calm, and they do the unthinkable. Leftcoast Media House immerses us into the community and lives of Vancouver B.C.’s flourishing slacklining and highlining communities, the characters that are pushing the envelope, and the emotions that motivate them to do so. Impressive cinematography, storytelling, and subject matter makes this documentary well worth the 30 minutes.

“SEND”  from Peter Vack

Peter Vack brings us a style-bending narrative about teenage love in a post-Internet era: the romance, the longing, the summers apart, and the unfortunate nude pictures that will inevitably circulate the halls of iMessage inboxes and group chats alike. With strong performances, great writing, and inventive approach to storytelling, “SEND” was one of the freshest narrative shorts we’ve seen in awhile.

“The Petard Pinch” from Mike Brookes

When a sinking submarine possessing an enigmatic Nazi codebook is within reach, three British naval men take on the ultimate test of courage and sacrifice to make sure that codebook is secured. Mike Brookes brings to life the remarkable tale of wartime selflessness that ultimately helped win WWII in this animated rendition of that important event. For decades, the story went unknown, so we think it’s high time that people discovered this real-life heroism.

“After the tone” from Sertac Yuksel

Sertac Yuksel offers a refreshing take on the travel genre. Through a series of voicemail messages, the tone of the piece is calculatingly altered, as Yuksel slowly reveals that a getaway planned for a couple has become a solo trip around the world. Sights that normally would evoke awe and appreciation are now tinged with melancholy as we, the viewers, imagine the one left at home, and connect with our own feelings of wanting to share experiences with others.

“Ep 3: CONFLICT / Donna Ferrato ‘I Am Unbeatable’” from redfitz

Donna Ferrato’s art as a photographer exists in the act of placing herself in the middle of conflict. For more than 30 years, Donna has documented women on their worst days of their lives. In “I Am Unbeatable,” we are effectively shown what this type of environment can feel like, the courage it can take to photograph within it, and the revealing nature of work that asks subjects to reflect on their own lives.

“DAGNER”  from Michael Fragstein

With technique that’s hard to put your finger on, Michael Fragstein’s film creates a dark world of floating dots, natural landscapes, and geometric red lines that unite and tether small men to their surroundings. Each setup displays a model sculpture with a meaning that feels elusive, and keeps us following the thin red line back to the video to watch again and try to discover more.

“projectDETOUR - CALIFORNIA” from David Bertschinger Karg

A high-energy motorcycle trip takes us through the great state of California. With pit stops only made to grab some turns on mountains and in the ocean, David Bertschinger Karg’s film packs a ton of action into a fun, digestible piece that rounds up his projectDETOUR series. If this one gets you excited, be sure to dive into the rest.

To find heaps more inventive, cutting-edge videos from the Vimeo community, dig through the archive of our best of Staff Picks

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