160 characters

11 minutes

No ball games

14 minutes

The trauma tracer

9 minutes

Celui qui tombe (He who falls)

6 minutes

How to be at home

5 minutes

The story of a breakup, an unplanned pregnancy and a childhood – told in 100 texts

In 2003, when flip phones still ruled the world, the UK director and artist Victoria Mapplebeck found herself on the verge of a promising relationship with a man she had matched with through a dating agency. But just a few weeks later, her life was forever altered by an abrupt breakup and the subsequent news of an unplanned pregnancy. A decade later, she was inspired to revisit the painful story after charging up an old Nokia phone and recovering the text messages she and the man had sent one another over the course of three years. Mappelbeck’s resulting short documentary, 160 Characters, uses 100 texts to tell the story of how the two met, split up and lost touch, leaving her to raise their son Jim without a father in his life. As emotionally resonant as it is cleverly assembled, the film is a powerful meditation on the stories, secrets and heartbreaks stored by our devices. For more from Mappelbeck, watch The Waiting Room, a spiritual sequel to 160 Characters, in which she chronicles her life in the months following a cancer diagnosis.

Immerse yourself in the games kids play when the streets are their playground

The London-based filmmaker Charlotte Regan’s charming documentary No Ball Games tracks the nuances of play between young friends in three working-class neighbourhoods across the UK. Capturing the joy of an aimless summer’s day spent finding fun, the film celebrates the instinctual ability of children to cook up their own entertainment from scratch – including, in this case, wresting directing duties from the filmmakers from time to time. With an immersive style, Regan’s film transports viewers into a world of resourcefulness, invention and fun that’s rarely accessed – and perhaps even forgotten – by those burdened by the quotidian concerns of adulthood.

Director: Charlotte Regan

Producer: Theo Barrowclough

Website: Guardian Documentaries

If trauma can be passed down, could new therapies blunt the transgenerational impact?

Growing up in a household where her biological parents provided foster care to kids in need, Bianca Jones Marlin was greatly affected by the stories of trauma that her siblings would share. Those childhood experiences, combined with a passion for science, inspires her work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University in New York. Through experiments with mice, Jones Marlin studies how trauma affects transgenerational epigenetic inheritance – or, more plainly, how the stress of traumatic experiences and environments can be passed down by parents to their future offspring, even when the stressors occur before pregnancy. And while making scientific leaps from mice to humans is always perilous, Jones Marlin’s research has proved promising, showing that stressors associated with certain odours in parents seem to make their pups more sensitive to those same smells. Ultimately, Jones Marlin hopes that her work can be used to help create therapies to improve outcomes for children who might be affected by transgenerational trauma.

Video by Science Friday

Director: Chelsea Fiske

Producer: Luke Groskin

Dancers tumble in and out of love as the ground spins beneath their feet

As performed by Frank Sinatra, the song ‘My Way’ (1969) is an act of bravado, with his forceful crooning underscoring lyrics about living life on one’s own terms, and without many regrets. But its original French version ‘Comme d’habitude’ (1967), which translates as ‘As Usual’, tells a different story – one of falling out of love. While set to Sinatra’s version, this performance from the French choreographer Yoann Bourgeois seems to allude to the song’s original meaning, as a troupe of male and female dancers chase, embrace and tumble, all while maintaining their balance on a rotating platform. Excerpted from the Bourgeois piece Celui qui tombe (He Who Falls), the performance offers an enchanting meditation on the cyclical nature of life – no matter where you stand on Ol’ Blue Eyes’ most polarising hit.

Via Kottke

Choreographer: Yoann Bourgeois

Website: Tanz im August

‘Lean into loneliness like it is holding you’ – a poetic reflection on life in lockdown

The audiovisual poem How to Be Alone (2010) was a viral hit for the Canadian musician and poet Tanya Davis and the Canadian filmmaker Andrea Dorfman. Their sequel How to Be at Home updates the original for our age of COVID-19 lockdown, pairing Dorfman’s charming animations – a distinctive melding of stop-motion and illustration – with Davis’s lyrical musings on the isolation that she and much of the rest of the world has endured over the past eight months. The resulting short is an artful – and, depending on your current degree of solitude, perhaps cathartic – meditation on the many conflicting emotions inspired by being forced to spend time at home during a crisis.

The story of a breakup, an unplanned pregnancy and a childhood – told in 100 texts

In 2003, when flip phones still ruled the world, the UK director and artist Victoria Mapplebeck found herself on the verge of a promising relationship with a man she had matched with through a dating agency. But just a few weeks later, her life was forever altered by an abrupt breakup and the subsequent news of an unplanned pregnancy. A decade later, she was inspired to revisit the painful story after charging up an old Nokia phone and recovering the text messages she and the man had sent one another over the course of three years. Mappelbeck’s resulting short documentary, 160 Characters, uses 100 texts to tell the story of how the two met, split up and lost touch, leaving her to raise their son Jim without a father in his life. As emotionally resonant as it is cleverly assembled, the film is a powerful meditation on the stories, secrets and heartbreaks stored by our devices. For more from Mappelbeck, watch The Waiting Room, a spiritual sequel to 160 Characters, in which she chronicles her life in the months following a cancer diagnosis.

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