La reina (the queen)

18 minutes

Samurai rules for peace and war

20 minutes

Colette

25 minutes

Light and microscopy

13 minutes

The stroke

7 minutes

Heavy is the 11-year-old head that wears the crown at an Argentinian beauty pageant

‘It gets heavier and heavier by the minute. Until the callus forms. Right, Memi?’

With an unflinching focus, the Argentinian filmmaker Manuel Abramovich traces the boredom, annoyance and pain – and perhaps confusion – that pass across the face of María Emilia Frocalassi (‘Memi’) as her mother fits her with a lavish, heavy headpiece. The 11-year-old has recently won a beauty pageant and will be competing in another held as part of carnival celebrations in rural Argentina. Intercutting the pageant preparations with Memi’s tennis and swimming lessons, Abramovich binds the whole spectacle together with a soundtrack of adults relentlessly dispensing directions and expectations. When Memi finally starts to crack, it’s perhaps not just under the weight of her enormous headdress. A winner of dozens of film-festival accolades since its 2013 release, the critically acclaimed short La Reina (The Queen) is a strikingly original and confronting exploration of adolescence, tradition and the dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship.

Director: Manuel Abramovich

A samurai rulebook offers guidance on how to kill enemies and refrain from gossip

From the 10th century till their abolition in the 1870s, samurai were a class of Japanese military nobility who inherited lives as warrior protectorates (bushi) for feudal lords, and had a notoriously strict and intricate honour code. This video from the YouTube channel Voices of the Past explores two scrolls from the famed samurai school Natori-Ryu’s 17th-century rulebook. The first scroll has codes of conduct for peacetime, with guidance ranging from the universal, such as the pitfalls of talking behind someone’s back, to the extremely samurai-specific, such as keeping a home garden that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to enemy attack. The second scroll lays out the rules of engagement in wartime and paints a much more violent portrait of samurai life, built around intricate rules for killing and being killed. These primary sources offer an intriguing window into the samurai value system, in which loss of reputation was considered a fate far worse than death.

A French resistance fighter reluctantly revisits her past in this Oscar-winning portrait

During the Nazi occupation of France, 14-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine joined the French resistance alongside her family. ‘We were playing cat and mouse. And playing with fire. Or rather, fire was playing with us,’ Marin-Catherine, now 92, recalls. Sadly, not everyone in her family would live to see France liberated. Her brother Jean-Pierre was just 17 when he was arrested for stockpiling weapons. He would die in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in March 1945, just three weeks before the camp was liberated.

In this short documentary, Marin-Catherine faces her trauma with the support of a history student named Lucie Fouble – only 17 years old herself. For the first time in her life, and with Fouble ever by her side, Marin-Catherine travels from France to Germany to visit the camp where some 20,000 Nazi prisoners including her brother died. The US director Anthony Giacchino and the French producer Alice Doyard won the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for this poignant portrait of bravery and healing amid the long, painful echoes of the Second World War. An accomplished and moving piece of filmmaking, Colette is a reminder of the tremendous power of individual stories to humanise history.

Director: Anthony Giacchino

Producer: Alice Doyard

Website: Guardian Documentaries

There’s no one way a microbe looks, only different clever methods to see it

In one sense, there are many ways to see a microbe, but in another, truly none at all. That’s to say, the array of microscopy methods developed since the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first peered into the microbial world in the 1670s are, by necessity, extraordinary distortions. Each represents a means of manipulating light to translate creatures that are, by definition, too small for the human eye to see. The result is a microbial world in which a single creature can look entirely different depending on the microscopy method used to capture it. This video from the YouTube channel Journey to the Microcosmos takes viewers on a tour of the many clever methods that scientists have developed to shine a light on small-scale life. The result is both an intriguing slice of science history and a highly illuminating visual investigation.

Via Kottke

Video by Journey to the Microcosmos

Host: Hank Green

Producer: Matthew Gaydos

A unique multisensory art experiment that begins and ends with a brush stroke

Having created the artwork for all of Ill Considered’s previous albums, the Dutch artist Vincent de Boer took on a unique project to invert the role of music and images in his collaborations with the London-based improvisational jazz ensemble. First, Boer hand-drew thousands of images to create an abstract animation, with the visuals giving the impression of a surreal journey beginning and ending with a single brush stroke. Then, reversing the roles of sounds and images in the standard music video-making process, Ill Considered improvised a composition to the images upon first sight of the artwork. An engrossing viewing experience in its own right, The Stroke transforms into an even more fascinating slice of multisensory art in the context of its unique concept. You can watch a behind-the-scenes video that chronicles the two years of its making here.

Director: Vincent de Boer

Music: Ill Considered

Heavy is the 11-year-old head that wears the crown at an Argentinian beauty pageant

‘It gets heavier and heavier by the minute. Until the callus forms. Right, Memi?’

With an unflinching focus, the Argentinian filmmaker Manuel Abramovich traces the boredom, annoyance and pain – and perhaps confusion – that pass across the face of María Emilia Frocalassi (‘Memi’) as her mother fits her with a lavish, heavy headpiece. The 11-year-old has recently won a beauty pageant and will be competing in another held as part of carnival celebrations in rural Argentina. Intercutting the pageant preparations with Memi’s tennis and swimming lessons, Abramovich binds the whole spectacle together with a soundtrack of adults relentlessly dispensing directions and expectations. When Memi finally starts to crack, it’s perhaps not just under the weight of her enormous headdress. A winner of dozens of film-festival accolades since its 2013 release, the critically acclaimed short La Reina (The Queen) is a strikingly original and confronting exploration of adolescence, tradition and the dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship.

Director: Manuel Abramovich

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