Gradually colder temps may be forcing the northern hemisphere to pile on the layers, but the fantastic films we’ve been finding on Vimeo this month are all about exposing the hot heat of truth around the globe.
So many of these videos uncover unheard stories. Charlotte Wells’ “Laps” ties our insides into a tight knot with her powerful depiction of sexual assault on an NYC subway. Alexandra Liveris’ “Eyes of Exodus” illuminates the tragedy of the Syrian refugee crisis. And Erika Calmeyer could have made a storyless music video for musician Ola Fløttum’s song “The Weight of Spring,” but instead used her opportunity to gorgeously portray intimate relationships very rarely shown on screen.
These are timely films capable of awakening the hearts of even the most jaded human beings. We’re proud of the unique beauty portrayed in this month’s Staff Picks, and infinitely grateful that our community continues to hold a mirror up to the realities of our world. Check out the rest of the best of October 2017 list for more boundary-pushing works of art.
Just as a fox would, “Fox and the Whale” slipped onto our radar with quickness and skill, and burrowed its way into each of our “best of” lists with ease and charm. Resembling a children’s book in its simplicity and meditativeness, Robin Joseph’s stunningly animated tale of a wandering little critter in search of grandeur is necessary viewing for all audiences who have forgotten the quiet magic of searching for oneself in the vast and mysterious outdoors.
The Brady Bunch and a smoking bong. The bust of a greek god spray-painted bright green while an evil mushroom waits to be busted by Super Mario. Andrew B. Myer’s “❒” is an unpredictable delight of juxtapositions that asks viewers to flex their imagination muscles in order to make sense of contradictory images. Don’t be dismayed if your brain doesn’t want to do any work, though. This video is a sight to behold for even the laziest of mental moments.
“The White Birch – The Weight of Spring” from Erika Calmeyer
“The Weight of Spring” is a montage of images that check all the boxes of a great music video: excellent cinematography, performances that look and feel completely authentic, and a song that sounds like flowers. What makes Erika Calmeyer’s film stand out, though, is its portrayal of intensely personal situations that we rarely see onscreen: a lesbian couple lying down in the middle of the day, an elderly pair whose passion couldn’t wait for a more comfortable location, and a grieving man sitting in the ruins of a heated argument.
Sometimes it feels like there’s an automatic “NO YOU CAN’T” that rings out the moment a woman sets out to accomplish a lofty goal, especially if that goal is one that requires physical strength. Caroline Gleich is one of those brave, bold, and badass women, and her dream was to complete a set of 90 teeth-chatteringly dangerous mountaineering lines across Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. In “Follow Through,” we follow Caroline on her awe-inspiring journey as she conquers the odds and unpredictable challenges of Earth’s elements at the same time. It’ll make you want to yell “YES SHE CAN.”
Vietnamese filmmaker Nhi Dang takes us on a sweeping journey through northwestern Vietnam, capturing its untouched landscapes and local people in remarkably vibrant color. We challenge you to find even one frame in this incredible portrait of Southeast Asia that couldn’t stand alone as a beautiful still photograph.
Filmmaker Runyararo Mapfumo tackles many things in “Masterpiece.” She lampoons the art world — a space historically dominated by white people and its pretentiousness. And she deftly portrays black characters in an authentic way, as opposed to making them caricatures of people who are “too street” or “too smart.” These confident depictions, plus Mapfumo’s biting humor and assured direction make this short piece remarkably refreshing, to say the least.
Using zero dialogue and shots filmed uncomfortably close to its subjects, “Laps” follows a young woman riding a crowded subway car when a stranger’s close proximity to her progresses into something more malevolent and criminal. It’s a surreal performance and piece of editing — putting the viewer in the uncomfortable position of occupying that suffocating space on the train with the protagonist. Based on filmmaker Charlotte Wells’ personal experience with sexual harassment on a New York City subway train, this Sundance and SXSW award-winning Staff Pick Premiere vividly captures the toxic mixture of fear and violation caused by a public assault.
Have you ever looked down from an airplane window and observed the perfect way that America’s fields, forests, and towns are arranged? These meticulously organized squares are called the Jefferson Grid after our third president, who divided the United States this way in order to distribute land after the Revolutionary War. Knowing this, artist Gerco de Ruijter pored over aerial views of Google Maps for hours in order to find grid squares that, when connected via stop-motion animation, produced a film cleverly portraying America’s roads in a synchronized dance routine.
On the smallest island in Greece, Damien and Monika stretch their means to accommodate hundreds of Syrian refugees, forming emotional bonds with them along the way. As countries around the world close their borders to people displaced by the violence of war, filmmaker Alexandra Liveris captures the endless hospitality and kindness of these hotel owners as homeless foreigners land at their harbors. One of their interviewed guests poignantly describes the feeling of welcome: “First I expected to not stay here. So when they told me to stay here I was broken because in Syria I did not think we were going to stay in hotels, I only thought we are going in trains, buses, ships. I did not get enough money to sit in hotels. If we did not find Damien, we would sleep in the streets.”
Want a second heaping helping where that came from? Direct your (◔_◔) over to our Best of the Month channel here.