The high five

10 minutes

Chunyun

7 minutes

Stay close

19 minutes

A Jew walks into a bar

24 minutes

Maesteg

10 minutes

The origins of the high five, and its inventor – an unsung gay pioneer

In 1977, Glenn Burke, a rookie outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, lifted his arm high above his head and slapped palms with his teammate Dusty Baker to celebrate a milestone home run, marking what is widely regarded as the first documented instance of a high five. But perhaps even more fascinating than the high five’s impromptu, exuberant birth is the story of its inventor: MLB’s first openly gay player. The extraordinary story of a largely unsung pioneer, The High Five revisits Burke’s life, a man who quietly challenged traditional notions of masculinity decades before lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes in professional sports became headline news.

Director: Michael Jacobs

Producer: Chris Gary

Website: Strike Anywhere Films

Chinese New Year is a stunning spectacle of human migration in 3 billion journeys

Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year), which starts on the new moon that falls between 21 January and 20 February, is celebrated by some 1.5 billion people around the world. And, as travel has become more affordable to China’s rapidly growing middle class, the holiday now accounts for an estimated 3 billion trips (called chunyun in Chinese), making the celebration the world’s largest annual human migration. The New York-based filmmaker Jonathan Bregel uses scenes of this extraordinary human flow to convey both the sheer magnitude of the movement of people and the moments of celebration that are a crucial aspect of the holiday.

Director: Jonathan Bregel

‘I feel the weight of everyone’: Keeth Smart foiled death to make it to the Olympics

Olympic athletes have, by definition, overcome overwhelming odds. But even among such a class of people, the US fencer Keeth Smart’s story stands out as extraordinary. He was the worst member of his high-school fencing club – which he joined only thanks to his talented sister (and future Olympian) Erinn – yet he ended up with a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, just four months after he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Combining family home videos, a voiceover from Smart and graphic-novel-style animations, Stay Close shows how a black kid from Brooklyn dealt with his challenges to succeed in a sport dominated by affluent white athletes – and became the first US fencer to top the world’s rankings.

Directors: Luther Clement, Shuhan Fan

Producer: Nevo Shinaar

Being a stand-up comedian is hard. It’s even harder when it’s against your religion

Have you heard this one before? An ultra-Orthodox Jew breaks the rules by going online, falls in love with stand-up comedy, and starts performing in clubs to help manage his crippling social anxiety. With deadpan delivery, and often wearing traditional Jewish Orthodox clothing, David Finkelstein has developed a comedic sensibility that connects with audiences at open mics in New York City. But even as he grows ever more comfortable on stage and finds a second home in the comedy community, the experience is rife with challenges and compromises. Finkelstein is still devout and attempts to adhere to as many of his religion’s rules as possible, even as he operates in a cultural ‘grey area’ by performing. This means no physical contact with women, no vulgarity, and no shows on the Sabbath, which nixes the desirable slots on Friday and Saturday night. And, most challenging of all, it means navigating between two very different worlds as he tries to keep the faith while pursuing his passion.

An endearing fish-out-of-water tale that grapples meaningfully with questions of religious values, culture and mental health, A Jew Walks into a Bar follows Finkelstein as he tries to establish himself in the stand-up scene. The short is one-third of the US filmmaker Jonathan Miller’s feature-length documentary Standing Up (2019), which follows three unlikely stand-ups as they pursue comedy in New York.

Director: Jonathan Miller

Producers: Colin Bernatzky, Katharine Accardo

Website: Standing Up

A cabbie’s tour of his Welsh hometown where the jobs are gone but the stories remain

A generation ago, the Welsh valley town of Maesteg was a booming coal mining and manufacturing community. Today, the mines and factories have all closed, and the sweeping green hills outside town are capped with massive wind turbines. This short documentary chronicles a day in the life of a longtime cab driver, who goes by Stumpy, as he winds his way through Maesteg and its environs. Most of Stumpy’s passengers are repeat customers – often friends and even family – who chat with him about their problems, love lives and times gone by. While the conversations are usually peppered with bantering good humour, they’re also bound together by an undercurrent of struggle and nostalgic longing for Maesteg’s better days. Richly evoking distinct nuances of time, place and community, the UK filmmaker Theodore Tennant offers a bittersweet ride through a memorable corner of Wales.

Director: Theodore Tennant

Producer: Tom Tennant

The origins of the high five, and its inventor – an unsung gay pioneer

In 1977, Glenn Burke, a rookie outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, lifted his arm high above his head and slapped palms with his teammate Dusty Baker to celebrate a milestone home run, marking what is widely regarded as the first documented instance of a high five. But perhaps even more fascinating than the high five’s impromptu, exuberant birth is the story of its inventor: MLB’s first openly gay player. The extraordinary story of a largely unsung pioneer, The High Five revisits Burke’s life, a man who quietly challenged traditional notions of masculinity decades before lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes in professional sports became headline news.

Director: Michael Jacobs

Producer: Chris Gary

Website: Strike Anywhere Films

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