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My name is Susan Yee

12 minutes

Gargantuan

1 minute

The beauty of gefilte fish

11 minutes

Timelapse of the future

29 minutes

White fright

30 minutes

Aeon for Friends

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The Chinese-Canadian urban immigrant experience, narrated by a clever pre-teen

My Name is Susan Yee, by the Academy Award-winning Canadian director Beverly Shaffer, is a beguilingly straightforward short documentary from 1975 that manages to weave a surprisingly rich set of themes into a chronicle of a young girl’s daily life. Yee, a first generation Chinese-Canadian girl, is gently precocious, frequently funny and an excellent guide through the diverse Montreal community where she lives. The film follows her about as she comments with a child’s frankness on Montreal’s weather, demographics, dramatic urban and social change, and winter leisure-time activities. She’s also an astute observer of family life and the dynamics at school, offering droll observations on her parents’ worries and witty comments about classmates and teachers. Entertaining and insightful in equal measure, this affable film breezes by as it shares the charms and complexities of Yee’s life in the city.

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The difference between an enormous beast and a puny newt is just a matter of perspective

Originally broadcast on BBC2’s The Late Show in 1992, this delightfully simple and clever short from the UK artist John Smith deploys a camera, an amphibian and an alarm clock to show how the chasm between ‘gargantuan’ and ‘minute’ is all in the framing.

Director: John Smith

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Delicious? Gross? The great fish dish that divides – and unites – families on Passover

Celebrated annually in early spring, Passover commemorates the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus. The holiday is generally marked by a large gathering of family and friends known as a Seder, and includes a reading of the Haggadah, a text that recounts the exodus from Egypt, and provides a guide to the traditional Passover meal, which includes matzoh (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs. This short documentary from the US director Rachel Fleit focuses on the tradition as celebrated by the Hermelin family of Detroit, in particular their relationship with a Passover dinner staple – gefilte fish. Though it plays no part in the Exodus story (it originated with Ashkenazi Jewish communities in eastern Europe), this dish of ground whitefish – with a flavour ranging from savoury to sweet, depending on the recipe – is nonetheless the most discussed culinary offering at the table. But despite its deeply polarising taste and texture, the annual gefilte fish is embraced by generations of Hermelins as a symbol of cultural tradition and familial bonds, imbued with ‘the joy of Judaism’.

Director: Rachel Fleit

Producers: Shiny Pictures, Union Entertainment

Website: The Gefilte Film

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Deep time and beyond: the great nothingness at the end of the Universe

‘The Universe becomes a cosmic boneyard, strewn with remnants of dead stars.’

This is the way the Universe ends, not with a bang, but with an unfathomably profound and gradual chill. Or, at least that’s one guess held by many scientists – but we don’t really know, and it’s entirely possible that we never will. This video from the US filmmaker and musician John Boswell starts in 2019 and plays out one theory of how everything – truly everything – will end. With the speed of the passage of time doubling every five seconds, inventive visual interpretations of cosmological phenomena, and narrated by science luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees and Janna Levin, the video guides us deep into a possible evolution of the Universe. Impressively translating theoretical physics and astronomically vast scales of time and space into 29 breathtaking minutes, Timelapse of the Future takes us all the way into the sublime of the unimaginable, with all the wonder and terror that might provoke.

Via Kottke

Video by John Boswell

Website: melodysheep

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When does US news ignore a terror plot? When the target is called Islamberg

Islamberg is a small hamlet of roughly two dozen families in upstate New York that has come to represent some of the most pernicious contradictions of political culture in the United States. Situated 130 miles north of New York City on the Pennsylvania border, the town was formed in the early 1980s by members of an African-American Muslim community in Brooklyn looking to escape the fraught conditions in the city at the time, including the crack epidemic. As such, Islamberg is an almost archetypal example of those ostensibly ‘American’ ideals of religious freedom and the pursuit of a better life. Since its founding, however, the community has contended with rumours of connections to radical Islamic terrorism despite repeated assurances from local law-enforcement that no such threat exists. On the contrary, the rumours have put the community itself in danger.

The US director David Felix Sutcliffe’s film White Fright explores Islamberg in the context of a foiled 2015 attack on the community, which was planned by a white Christian minister and ultimately intercepted by the FBI. Splicing together FBI documents, news footage and interviews with Islamberg residents, the documentary probes how deceptive and inflammatory Right-wing news coverage helped to inspire the plan for a massacre at a mosque and school in the town, while other national news outlets barely covered the plot upon its unravelling. Since the film’s release in 2018, Islamberg was subject to yet another plot to murder its residents that was foiled by law enforcement in January 2019.

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

The Chinese-Canadian urban immigrant experience, narrated by a clever pre-teen

My Name is Susan Yee, by the Academy Award-winning Canadian director Beverly Shaffer, is a beguilingly straightforward short documentary from 1975 that manages to weave a surprisingly rich set of themes into a chronicle of a young girl’s daily life. Yee, a first generation Chinese-Canadian girl, is gently precocious, frequently funny and an excellent guide through the diverse Montreal community where she lives. The film follows her about as she comments with a child’s frankness on Montreal’s weather, demographics, dramatic urban and social change, and winter leisure-time activities. She’s also an astute observer of family life and the dynamics at school, offering droll observations on her parents’ worries and witty comments about classmates and teachers. Entertaining and insightful in equal measure, this affable film breezes by as it shares the charms and complexities of Yee’s life in the city.

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Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Thinking on your feet

Don’t just do it, think about it too: how Gilbert Ryle’s philosophy of mind can help athletes teach themselves to improve

Josh Habgood-Coote

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Cognitive gadgets

Our thinking devices – imitation, mind-reading, language and others – are neither hard-wired nor designed by genetic evolution

Cecilia Heyes