Animated life: Mary Leakey

8 minutes

Carlotta’s face

5 minutes

Reviving the Roost

6 minutes

Throat singing in Kangirsuk

3 minutes

Mary Beard: women and power

5 minutes

How footprints trapped in time unlocked a mystery of early hominids

The British-born scientist Mary Leakey (1913-1996) was one the foremost paleoanthropologists of the 20th century. Alongside her husband Louis Leakey (1903-1972), she was responsible for several important breakthroughs in East African prehistory. Arguably her most important discovery occurred after her husband’s death when, during an excavation in Tanzania in 1976, she and her team found a set of 3.6-million-year-old early hominid footprints that had been improbably preserved by a combination of volcanic ash and rain. These footprints revealed, for the first time, the way in which our earliest bipedal ancestors walked upright.

This video from Sweet Fern Productions recounts how Leakey’s passion for paleoanthropology led to the discovery of what are now known as the Laetoli footprints, which continue to shape our understanding of our early ancestors – and by extension, ourselves.

Director: Flora Lichtman, Sharon Shattuck

Website: BioInteractive

‘A face is a hilly landscape.’ How a face-blind artist paints what she can’t recognise

Our evolution as social animals has equipped most of us with an acute ability to read and recognise human faces. However, people with prosopagnosia, commonly called ‘face blindness’, have difficulty distinguishing one face from another. Because the disorder isn’t widely known, people who have it are often not diagnosed and can contend with the added challenge of being considered stupid or rude. This animated short recounts the experiences of Carlotta, a woman whose face blindness is so severe that she can’t distinguish between human and chimpanzee faces, or even remember her own. While this caused her much suffering and confusion as a child, she has since leveraged the condition to inform her unique approach to self-portraiture and, by extension, to gain a sense of connection with her own face.

Directors: Valentin Riedl, Frédéric Schuld

Producer: Fabian Driehorst

Website: Fabian&Fred

Dancefloor politics – who’s in and who’s out at one of Edmonton’s oldest gay bars?

A year after reaching the legal drinking age, and before transitioning to female later on, the Canadian writer and filmmaker Vivek Shraya summoned the courage to enter the Roost, the most popular gay bar in her hometown of Edmonton. But while she found excitement within the Roost’s walls, the sense of community that she’d hoped awaited her was missing – or, at least, it was all much more complicated than she had anticipated. Even in this gay sanctuary, divisions of queerness and race, and in-groups and out-groups, created hierarchies of oppression that left her riddled with self-doubt. But then she went to Toronto, where each group had its own bar, and realised she had overlooked something important about the Roost. Set to pulsing music and neon-inspired animation, Shraya’s short film Reviving the Roost is a paean to a now-shuttered Edmonton institution, in all its sweaty, imperfect glory.

Director: Vivek Shraya

Producer: Justine Pimlott

Animator: Tim Singleton

Inuit throat singing is half performance, half game, and wholly mesmerising

In traditional katajjaq, also known as Inuit throat singing, two women stand face to face and perform a duet that doubles as something of a musical battle. Chanting in rhythm, they attempt to outlast one another, each waiting for any crack in the pace of her opponent – whether in the form of loss of breath, fatigue or laughter. In this short from the Canada-based First Nations film initiative Wapikoni Mobile, Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, two throat singers from the remote Inuit village of Kangirsuk in northern Québec, face off in a friendly katajjaq duel. With sweeping imagery of the duo’s Arctic home, the short, which screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a transfixing melding of music and landscape.

Directors: Eva Kaukai, Manon Chamberland

Producer: Manon Barbeau

Website: Wapikoni Mobile

Why Medusa lives on – Mary Beard on the persistent legacy of Ancient Greek misogyny

‘To be men, they have to learn to silence women. I don’t think we’ve entirely got over that.’

From philosophy and politics to literature and art, the Western world has inherited much from Ancient Greece. But one disturbing cultural legacy is the enduring view of women as lesser beings who should shut up and stay out of the public intellectual sphere. Our social media is rife with examples of this persistent misogyny, which casts vocal women as stupid, shrill or some combination of the two. As the classicist Mary Beard of the University of Cambridge argues, nearly every leading female politician has been at some point depicted as Medusa – that beautiful woman of Ancient Greek myth who was transformed into a hideous beast as punishment for her own rape. In this video, commissioned by the Getty Museum on the occasion of Beard receiving their 2019 Getty Medal for contributions to the arts, she elaborates on the telling similarities between Ancient Greek depictions of women and those in our own times.

Director: Matthew Miller

Producers: Ways & Means, Christopher Broyles

How footprints trapped in time unlocked a mystery of early hominids

The British-born scientist Mary Leakey (1913-1996) was one the foremost paleoanthropologists of the 20th century. Alongside her husband Louis Leakey (1903-1972), she was responsible for several important breakthroughs in East African prehistory. Arguably her most important discovery occurred after her husband’s death when, during an excavation in Tanzania in 1976, she and her team found a set of 3.6-million-year-old early hominid footprints that had been improbably preserved by a combination of volcanic ash and rain. These footprints revealed, for the first time, the way in which our earliest bipedal ancestors walked upright.

This video from Sweet Fern Productions recounts how Leakey’s passion for paleoanthropology led to the discovery of what are now known as the Laetoli footprints, which continue to shape our understanding of our early ancestors – and by extension, ourselves.

Director: Flora Lichtman, Sharon Shattuck

Website: BioInteractive

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