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Dinosaur curtains

19 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

Outside in Beijing

16 minutes

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A couple, spirited but low on cash, challenges conceptions of Middle America

Adam, a perpetually upbeat limo driver, and Megan, a stay-at-home-mom, live an unglamorous but happy life in a small town in Middle America. This documentary follows the couple in the hours leading up to the TV première of Megan’s appearance on the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire? As the day unfolds, two very different portraits of the couple emerge: the dreary image painted with broad brushstrokes by local and national media, and the complex, humanising picture that’s captured by the filmmakers, brothers Bill and Turner Ross.

Director: Bill Ross, Turner Ross

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Life emerges, evolves and fights for supremacy in this 1929 avant-garde classic

The New Zealand-born artist Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901-80), better known as Len Lye, is renowned for his work in kinetic sculpture and experimental film, and is widely considered one of the most innovative modernists of the 20th century. Lye’s first film, Tusalava (1929), produced over two years following a move to London, was born of the city’s emerging experimental film scene and Lye’s abiding interest in Maori, Aboriginal and Samoan art. Composed of some 7,000 hand-drawn images, the abstract animation synthesises modern and ancient art as it depicts simple life forms emerging, evolving and coming into conflict. As with the influence of African art on Pablo Picasso, Lye’s use of so-called ‘primitivism’ has been both praised for introducing non-Western perspectives to Western art, and criticised for cultural appropriation. The film was originally paired with a now-lost piano score from the UK-born composer Jack Ellitt. This version features the UK composer Eugene Goossens’s composition Rhythmic Dance (1928), which Lye later suggested as an alternative accompaniment.

Director: Len Lye

Score: Eugene Goossens

Websites: The Len Lye Foundation, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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If simple logic isn’t working with your internet company, try Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory

This tongue-in-cheek animation from the US YouTuber Henry Reich – the mind behind MinutePhysics – is a creative exercise in how not to lose your cool when faced with the abyss of illogic. Recalling the mundane, mindnumbing tribulations of trying to get a straight answer on billing from his internet service provider (ISP), Reich concludes that the company isn’t just guilty of subpar customer service – their policies also break nearly every fundamental law of modern mathematics. Reich’s clever excoriation of telecommunication companies was created for The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest), an annual ‘celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theories’.

Video by MinutePhysics

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Mind control and zombification do exist. Just look at these crickets

Warning: this video is not for the squeamish.

Mayflies make a quick and nutritious snack for crickets. But, rather unfortunately for the cricket population of California, some mayflies are home to hairworms (nematomorphs) – parasitic creatures that will stop at nothing to make their way back to water. Once consumed, hairworms feed off crickets from the inside, absorbing all of their lipids, and eventually putting the cricket in a state of developmental and reproductive limbo. Worse still, once these fast-growing parasites reach their adult length of one to two feet, they zombify their hosts, unleashing brain chemicals that make the infected crickets wander aimlessly until they hit water, where the worms make their final escape and start the whole cycle anew. By studying this process, scientists hope to learn more about how brain parasites might affect human behaviour. The ordeal is captured in microscopic detail in this episode of the often creepy, always fascinating science documentary series Deep Look. Read more about the video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Gabriela Quirós

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Cinematographer: Josh Cassidy

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Human capital: art, exercise and industry in the streets of Beijing

As preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics were transforming swathes of Beijing, the Portuguese filmmaker Sérgio Cruz was exploring the city’s streets and public spaces with his camera. Taking an observational approach, Cruz found a metropolis undergoing rapid development, while in pockets its distinctive traditions and pastimes continued unabated. Amid cacophonous construction and air pollution heavy on the skyline, there’s a rich and unceasing pulse of communal life – what Cruz calls ‘a 24-hour live show full of music, dance and sports’. A choir gathers to sing in an underground tunnel; a group practises synchronised tai chi under a basketball hoop in a park; couples dance in a public square at dusk. While deliberately paced, Cruz’s short film is not unlike the curious tourist who breaks away from the planned itinerary to seek out excitement and small surprises around every new corner.

Director: Sérgio Cruz

Aeon for Friends

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A couple, spirited but low on cash, challenges conceptions of Middle America

Adam, a perpetually upbeat limo driver, and Megan, a stay-at-home-mom, live an unglamorous but happy life in a small town in Middle America. This documentary follows the couple in the hours leading up to the TV première of Megan’s appearance on the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire? As the day unfolds, two very different portraits of the couple emerge: the dreary image painted with broad brushstrokes by local and national media, and the complex, humanising picture that’s captured by the filmmakers, brothers Bill and Turner Ross.

Director: Bill Ross, Turner Ross

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Essay/
History
How the poor became blessed

Greco-Roman gods had no interest in the poor nor was organised charity a religious duty. How was Christianity different?

Pieter van der Horst

Essay/
Human rights and justice
A survivor speaks

Victims of sexual assault are commonly judged by the consistency of their story. But consistency is not a high road to truth

Linda Martín Alcoff