We did it, folks! It’s been a year of mind-blowingly great videos, and this is the last batch of especially sparkly ones from 2017 — presented to you with great humility and hope, and tied in a shiny ribbon. There are a handful of commentaries on our modern world, from the story of a man who couldn’t pay his way out of jail to a DACA “Dreamer” going through the motions as an airport cleaner. Though they may sound like bleak windows into real-life woes, they are truly anything but. Art, like these films, is the key to tapping into the heart and emotions of those who fall through the cracks of society, and we need their voices to be heard to inspire empathy even in the smallest of hearts. For an equally sobering but amusing dose of reality, check out Steve Cutts’ ironically-titled animation “Happiness,” which we named our Best Animation of 2017. And for adults who just want to sit before three funnny ladies and laugh for 40 minutes, may we recommend the delightfully bizarre “Snowy Bing Bongs Across the North Star Conflict Zone”?
We have loved experiencing this doozy of a year through your eyes, and we can’t wait to see what our ridiculously creative community shares with us in 2018. Many thanks for watching with us!
Zipping around the internet, looking for inspiration to help us even *begin* to describe the insane joy that is this film leads to a whirlwind of accolades and love from the comedy world. There’s a tweet from Jenny Slate (“I want to watch this all the time all day i love these people”) and positive review upon glowing article of people who try to make sense of how and why we’re so taken with this 40-minute series of sketches, dances, songs, goofy faces, and farts from Eleanor Pienta, Sunita Mari, and Tallie Medel. Another reason why SBB might be better than your average film is the fact that it was produced by the beloved DANIELS (and remember Sunita from this classic music video?). Written by Rachel Wolther and Alex Fischer, this bizarre little musical number is pure delight, amazement, butts, and snowflakes, and we freakin’ love it.
Filmmaker Rafa Zub presents a montage of East Asia’s neon-lit hustle and bustle, muffled by the calming gentle sound of rain. The relaxed tap-taps provide an interesting juxtaposition to a region of the world whose energy is anything but chill; children play war with toy machine guns, young women take selfie after selfie before a brightly colored skyline, and motorbikes travel in herds through the streets like synchronized swimmers. It’s a window into moments happening in East Asia that will never occur again, and “Ambient Rain” portrays them with honesty and creativity.
13-time Staff Picked duo BRTHR has brought yet another rainbow-soaked, in-your-face music video into the world that we are totally hypnotized by. After watching this video, we guarantee at least one of the following will happen: 1) Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps” will be imprinted into your brain cavities like a commercial jingle, never to fade until you die, 2) you’ll never write a love song or letter again because it’ll never be as sick as this one, and 3) you’ll be brainwashed into joining the cult of BRTHR and worship at their flashy alter for all eternity. Good luck.
In 1996, a tornado wreaked havoc on a drive-in movie theater in Niagara Falls, Canada on the same day it was supposed to screen the Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton-starring movie Twister. Over the ensuing years this story has taken on urban legend status, with each telling becoming more and more dramatic and fantastic. First the story was that a tornado destroyed a screen that was going to play Twister that evening, then it morphed into a tale about it being destroyed while playing Twister, and then it evolved into “it tore through while the titular twister in Twister was on the screen.” Who’s to know the truth? Well, as Jay Cheel’s funnny, fascinating, and playfully investigative documentary “Twisted” points out … apparently many.
Since his first Staff Pick in 2012, Steve Cutts has been serving up heaping helpings of unfiltered, Grade A truth bombs. As the jaded Walt Disney of a world too glued to their screens and obsessed with material possessions to achieve true self-contentment, Cutts portrays the modern human condition with cleverness, creativity, and cutting commentary in a way that makes us want to laugh and off ourselves at the same time. “Happiness” is a brilliant jab at our Trumpian universe, where people have been brainwashed into believing that the newest device, car, hot partner, or pill will fulfill our inner yearning for peace. If this all sounds terribly bleak, that’s because it is. But “Happiness” is also a comically clear, animated mirror into our culture that may make you think twice about where you get your satisfaction in 2018.
In 2014, Ramdel was arrested for riding a bike on a sidewalk. To satisfy bail, he had to pay $500 — equal to a month of rent in his neighborhood. “My lawyer was saying — do I have a job? Am I working? Do I have family? I said no, I have none. [I’m] adopted, yknow? It’s just me and my daughter.” Stuck in prison for two years because he was unable to pay his way out, Bronx Freedom Fund stepped in to give him a fighting chance. Watch Ramel’s disheartening story of injustice, poignantly presented by 7-time Staff Pick alums Variable.
For the sixth installment of Korua Shapes’ epic “Yearning for Turning” series, snow bunnies and sports-obsessed audiences alike are treated to a fast-paced snow show of straight-up graceful snowboarding and an amazing German version of Peter Schilling’s 1983 hit song “Major Tom.” Featuring a back-to-back montage of snowboarders gliding on clear slopes and freestyling down mountains through treacherous tree-dotted descents, this winter video’s got as much style as it does skill.
The Nazi regime has been described in a myriad of ways, including, but not limited to: evil murderers, deeply insecure power-mongers, and despicable inhuman filth. Another category they fit into quite nicely is a giant pile of slimy weiners. Roberto Bialdi’s second Staff Pick is similar in its use of meticulously drawn genitalia to portray old-world culture and domination, and it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Press play for the most phallic animorphs you’ve ever seen.
It’s already been a long day, and Salote is about to begin another shift as an airport cleaner who is often seen but rarely heard or acknowledged. Like many “Dreamers,” she is determined to work hard to make a better life for herself, even if that means using all of her time and energy to keep a job. As we observe her paths and routines through the stark, sterile environment of the airport, how are we to know what is on her mind as she avoids contact with travelers and colleagues, and how do we know who she works so hard for? New Zealand filmmaker Zia Mandviwalla’s first Staff Pick is a heartbreaking (and warming) portrait of one service worker out of millions who deserve a “thank you” for their labor and so much more.
Make yourself a snow cone and get comfy with more exceptional shorts in our Best of the Month Channel.