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‘When will we have it better? Just like everyone else?’
Sand Men is a distinctly different take on the artisan short-documentary genre. It follows Raj, Neculai and Aurel as they practise an unusual craft that has been passed around the Romanian immigrant community in London. With just a bag of sand and simple tools, the men fashion expressive, temporary and often melancholic dog sculptures, hoping for donations that will help them eke out a living. While each man has a different outlook and challenges to overcome, all of them chose the difficulties of London over living in poverty in Romania because they hope for a better chance to support their families, however meagre their earnings. By juxtaposing the dogs’ emotive faces with the stories of Raj, Neculai and Aurel, the UK director Tal Amiran renders life at the margins of a wealthy city as a peculiar mix of suffering, striving and absurdity, suggesting that society has an easier time overlooking these men than their ephemeral creations.
Director: Tal Amiran
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
What can a Kurosawa classic tell us about reality, knowledge and truth?
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
Animals and humans
A bluesy ballad tells the story of Old Bet, the first circus elephant in the US
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design
Meaning and the good life
To know or not to know? Lillian weighs the costs of a life-changing genetic test
Information and communication
There are many ways to make a flat map of the world – each of them a unique distortion
What is it like to clean the world for tomorrow while the rest of a city sleeps?