EXCLUSIVE

Walter Potter: the man who married kittens

19 minutes

Tower

19 minutes

Gradations

2 minutes

Last acre

12 minutes

The wolf dividing Norway

29 minutes

Long before internet posts of cute animals, there were Victorian taxidermy tableaux

Born in the English village of Bramber in 1835, the Victorian-era taxidermist Walter Potter created a collection of anthropomorphic dioramas that continued to attract thousands of visitors until it was controversially dispersed at auction in 2003. His intricately detailed scenes of stuffed little animals frozen in distinctly human situations – kittens at a wedding, frogs in a playground, rabbits in a classroom – tend to be dismissed as creepy or kitsch by the art establishment. But that attitude is resented as snobbery by Potter collectors, who argue that his curious creations are inspired Victorian artifacts worthy of veneration and preservation. A portrait both of popular entertainment from a bygone age and of those who prize it as art, Walter Potter: The Man Who Married Kittens was commissioned by Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum and played at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Director: Ronni Thomas

Producer: Joanna Ebenstein

Executive Producers: Tonya Hurley, Tracy Hurley Martin

Editor: Will Ellis

Photographer: Robert Carnevale

Composer: Stephen Coates

Website: Morbid Anatomy Museum

Each memory in different strokes: how four siblings recall a tumultuous childhood

From 1964 to 1985, Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship. Hundreds of dissidents either went missing or were killed in secret, and more than 20,000 people were tortured. This animated documentary from the Brazilian director Nádia Mangolini mines the memories the four Gomes da Silva siblings whose father went missing and whose mother was imprisoned in a tower during this period of political tumult. As each sibling in ascending order of age recounts individual memories of their parents, their disappearances and the family’s exile to Cuba and Chile, the film shifts between visual styles, building in detail with each narrative. Combining accomplished animated artistry with powerful storytelling, the resulting film is a poignant exploration of the vast powers and even vaster ambiguities of childhood memories.

Director: Nádia Mangolini

Website: Estúdio Teremim

Delight as the hard-edged world melts into a full-rainbow spectrum of reality

Created by the Japanese director and designer Daihei Shibata for the Japanese educational TV programme Design Ah, the short video Gradations relishes in the blurring and stretching of visual borders. With a Zenned-out soundtrack augmenting the pleasing imagery, the short serves up a series of brief sequences in which commonplace visuals – from city lights to coffee and milk – shift from binary to an increasingly gradated spectrum. Beyond its oddly satisfying effect, the piece suggests hidden worlds of complexity even in the most mundane places. For more design wizardry from Shibata, watch Unendurable Line.

Via The Kid Should See This

Director: Daihei Shibata

A world of shacks and shanties is a place of makeshift beauty on England’s margins

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of impoverished Britons set out in search of their own Arcadia. They found it, for a time, in poorly developed strips of land that had been neglected or abandoned by others. This cheap or sometimes even free land gave these pioneers a place to build their own humble shacks out of old bits of wood and boat, creating utopias that came to be called ‘Plotlands’. Life in the Plotlands continues still, and is precarious, improvised and marginal – yet full of rugged beauty. The UK filmmakers Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan capture that makeshift, unconventional beauty in this short documentary, set to Peter Warlock’s inimitable composition The Curlew (1920-22) and filmed on the salt marshes of Lowsy Point near Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England.

Directors: Jacob Cartwright, Nick Jordan

Narrator: Judy May

The divisive debate over hunting Norway’s endangered wolves

During the 1960s, wolves nearly vanished from Norway’s landscape due to overhunting; now, there are no more than 70 wolves left in the country. Although the wild predators – known to prey on farmers’ livestock – received protection under law in 1971, the debate between hunters and conservationists over the fate of the remaining endangered population has been heated and divisive ever since. The Wolf Dividing Norway shows how this debate culminates in December 2019, as groups on both sides of the conflict wait to hear whether the government will authorise the annual winter wolf hunt. With unprecedented access to remote communities at the heart of the debate, the Norwegian documentary filmmaker Kyrre Lien humanises the frustration coming from both sides, providing a sensitive look at one of Norway’s most polarising topics.

Director: Kyrre Lien

Long before internet posts of cute animals, there were Victorian taxidermy tableaux

Born in the English village of Bramber in 1835, the Victorian-era taxidermist Walter Potter created a collection of anthropomorphic dioramas that continued to attract thousands of visitors until it was controversially dispersed at auction in 2003. His intricately detailed scenes of stuffed little animals frozen in distinctly human situations – kittens at a wedding, frogs in a playground, rabbits in a classroom – tend to be dismissed as creepy or kitsch by the art establishment. But that attitude is resented as snobbery by Potter collectors, who argue that his curious creations are inspired Victorian artifacts worthy of veneration and preservation. A portrait both of popular entertainment from a bygone age and of those who prize it as art, Walter Potter: The Man Who Married Kittens was commissioned by Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum and played at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Director: Ronni Thomas

Producer: Joanna Ebenstein

Executive Producers: Tonya Hurley, Tracy Hurley Martin

Editor: Will Ellis

Photographer: Robert Carnevale

Composer: Stephen Coates

Website: Morbid Anatomy Museum

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