We did it, everyone! Despite all odds, we banded together and made it through another month of amazing videos. High five! Now that we’re here, it’s time to look back and highlight the coolest of the cool from this past month’s Staff Picks. After hours of deliberation, we’re happy to share with you the best 12 videos from June 2015.
Nine minutes of animation can seem like quite a big ask in the middle of a busy day, but if the 22 festival laurels on Coda’s thumbnail don’t persuade you, let me just say that spending less than 10 minutes on this beautifully designed animation will massively increase your appreciation for simple pleasures and the minutes, hours, and years you have ahead. Now let’s all hug.
Cut from existing footage the director shot for a feature-length documentary Dragon Girls, this is A++ self-appropriation! Those overhead shots of thousands of little Shaolin disciples exercising is awesome in the classic definition of the word (it fills me with awe), and even when the footage gets up close and personal, we learn that a pulsing dance beat and crazy kung fu action go together like PB&J.
Donald is a lonely plumber. He and his girlfriend just broke up and he’s struggling to get over it. Jess and her boyfriend Edward are still together, but things are less than perfect. One day, Donald arrives to fix Jess’s sink, and while he’s there, Edward shows up and starts arguing with Jess. Should Donald to step in and save the day, or does Jess simply want him to fix the sink? Only one way to find out.
We know Sebastian Linda primarily for his epic slo-mo skateboarding films, so it’s a treat to experience his audio-visual skills in the context of a honeymoon travel video, instead. Linda creates a kinetic work that applies the multi-technique style of quick, fleeting shots and in-camera motion that we’ve become familiar with via figures like Leo Dalessandri and Matty Brown, but he then pairs it with an inspirational Alan Watts voiceover, which is typical of a more meditative type of travel video. Combining the two leads to something wholly original as he combines both the tone and substance of Watt’s words to craft a clever and formally ambitious essay on reality — the surprise of which I shall not spoil here.
Long-distance relationships are tough. They defy logic. When you love someone, all you want to do is spend time with them, and you rarely get to when you’re miles apart. The characters in the music video for "It's Not Over" by On an On know exactly what that feels like, and are willing to do whatever it takes to overcome that distance. Packed full of charm, fun, and a whole lot of heart, director Carlos Lopez Estrada takes our characters on a surreal run across the country, one fueled by love and VFX, over countless obstacles and eventually back into each other's arms.
Amazingly, Chi Mai describes this documentary as her video-editorial debut. What a first impression! This brief peek into the lives of disadvantaged Vietnamese children living on the river is fresh for the way it exists at the nexus of overlapping docu-forms. Part reportorial, but also lyrically observational, the easy coexistence of the camera in these kids’ lives is reminiscent of a verité approach, but the video’s heartbreaking moments arise from straight interviews. Throughout, the film is edited in a fast staccato pacing that resists the temptation for romanticization — it pushes forward the flow of time as relentlessly as river itself. As the description states, “Not much of a glimmer of hope. No happy ending to follow.”
Brought to you by our pals at Borscht Corp, the new series No Seasons centers on artist Julian Yuri Rodriguez and his wild stories about growing up in Miami. Covering everything from race relations, to stolen boats, to backyard birthday parties, the stories are all over the map, but Julian’s personality mixed with the distinct filmmaking approach from directors Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva, make for one of the most fun and unique doc series we’ve seen.
It’s not that the Internet doesn’t love 14-minute Swedish language documentaries, but let’s say they’re not always the most immediate viral hits. It’s such an honor, therefore, to be able to showcase films like this in our Staff Picks channel and bring it to our audience. In fact, we love it so much that we decided to include it in our selection of June’s best videos, just to make sure that anyone who missed it has another chance to check it out. And, FYI, it’s not just a beautiful, heartwarming portrait of a little boy’s relationship with his grandpa — you’ll also get expert advice on how to cook mushrooms!
“Ready” by Kodaline does a fantastic job of toeing a line between funny and inspirational. Starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. McLovin), the video features plenty of images that you can’t help but smile at. They’re balanced, though, by Isaac Bauman's beautiful cinematography and a genuinely uplifting story of overcoming adversity and getting back up when you fall down. It’s a wonderfully cinematic video with plenty of big scenes, but also plenty of intimate moments, which even without dialog manages to add a ton of depth to the narrative.
Neil Halloran’s extraordinary data documentary is the clearest illustration of the human cost of war that I’ve ever seen, but its message is as much about peace as it is war. If you spend much time watching or reading the news, it’s easy to worry about the times we live in — this piece may just reawaken your inner optimist.
Joey L is one of the Internet’s most beloved photographers, and you don’t become a great photographer by hiding from the world. That said, purposely plunking yourself down in a war zone isn’t generally recommended by job-site listicles on how to improve your career, either. But that’s exactly what Joey did in a quest to create a photographic profile series on Kurdish fighters leading the charge against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Shooting video on the trip is described by Joey as an afterthought… if only all afterthoughts turned out so well! Feast your eyes on 30 minutes of fascinating, first-person exploration into a part of the world we hear about all the time, but so rarely see.