National disintegrations

11 minutes

Can apes really ‘talk’ to humans?

8 minutes

Flawed

13 minutes

The Night Watch

8 minutes

Herd of two

13 minutes

The Swiss warehouse where the rich hide assets and wealth leaves no trace

Many believe that the art stashed within the Geneva Freeport’s walls – reportedly including around a thousand pieces by Picasso – would make it one of the world’s largest and most exquisite museums… if the work was on display. Instead, masterworks sit unseen and untouched in high-security vaults, alongside archaeological treasures, gold bars, diamonds, weapons and rare vintage wines – their owners waiting for them to appreciate in value, or, in less savoury cases, to hide them for a time. Because the freeport is exempt from import taxes or duties, and operates under the famous secrecy of Switzerland’s banking system, it is thought to be a hotbed of black market activity (although in 2016 the Swiss government took new measures to crack down on illegal freeport holdings). National Disintegrations contrasts the mysterious inner life of the Geneva Freeport – where untold billions in riches come and go with little regulation – with scenes of a nearby complex, where asylum seekers are subjected to endless waiting and bureaucracy. What does this disparity in freedom say about Swiss society and the global movement of people and goods?

Director: Braden King

Producer: Cynthia Reschke

Website: Field of Vision

The Swiss warehouse where the rich hide assets and wealth leaves no trace

Many believe that the art stashed within the Geneva Freeport’s walls – reportedly including around a thousand pieces by Picasso – would make it one of the world’s largest and most exquisite museums… if the work was on display. Instead, masterworks sit unseen and untouched in high-security vaults, alongside archaeological treasures, gold bars, diamonds, weapons and rare vintage wines – their owners waiting for them to appreciate in value, or, in less savoury cases, to hide them for a time. Because the freeport is exempt from import taxes or duties, and operates under the famous secrecy of Switzerland’s banking system, it is thought to be a hotbed of black market activity (although in 2016 the Swiss government took new measures to crack down on illegal freeport holdings). National Disintegrations contrasts the mysterious inner life of the Geneva Freeport – where untold billions in riches come and go with little regulation – with scenes of a nearby complex, where asylum seekers are subjected to endless waiting and bureaucracy. What does this disparity in freedom say about Swiss society and the global movement of people and goods?

Director: Braden King

Producer: Cynthia Reschke

Website: Field of Vision

People have been trying to talk with apes for nearly a century. How far have we got?

Since the early 20th century, a number of curious (and sometimes ethically dubious) psychological studies have tried to figure out if we can communicate with great apes using language. In the 1970s, the answer was reported to be an unequivocal ‘yes’ after Koko, a female western lowland gorilla, learned to sign at her handler, a graduate student at Stanford University, using a modified version of American Sign Language. But more recent critiques of the Koko studies (and others) dispute the idea that great apes have had truly meaningful two-way language communication with humans. This video from NPR’s Skunk Bear offers a brief survey of the history of ape-human communication research, suggesting that ‘Can we talk with them?’ might be the wrong question to ask.

Video by Skunk Bear

Producers: Ryan Kellman, Adam Cole

There’s nothing like falling for a plastic surgeon to help you embrace your body as it is

After meeting a potential romantic partner – ‘the nicest guy in the world’– while on vacation, the Canadian filmmaker Andrea Dorfman had a difficult time reconciling everything she liked about him with her judgment of his work as a plastic surgeon. Although most of his work was reconstructive, she couldn’t kick the feeling that the cosmetic surgeries he performed made people feel imperfect, sending the message that some body shapes are better than others. In her charming, vulnerable and heartfelt animated film Flawed, Dorfman sketches out the story of their romance in time-lapse watercolour animations that recreate how the two corresponded with handmade postcards as she confronted insecurities from childhood that challenged her ideas about herself. Flawed was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award following its 2010 release.

Director: Andrea Dorfman

Producer: Annette Clark

Website: National Film Board of Canada

How Rembrandt used light and motion to make a mundane commission a masterpiece

The oil painting Militia Company of District II Under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (1642), better-known as The Night Watch, is probably Rembrandt’s most famous work. Its status and critical acclaim, though, have little to do with its subject matter: a civic-guard group tasked with keeping watch on the city walls. In 17th-century Amsterdam, it was highly common for these guilds – mostly well-off men who rarely saw anything resembling conflict – to commission portraits of themselves wearing their uniforms and holding weapons. So why has The Night Watch endured while so many similar portraits have drifted into obscurity? In this video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as the Nerdwriter) examines how Rembrandt’s riveting interplay of light, motion, texture and expression transformed a commonplace commission into a masterwork.

Video by The Nerdwriter

What can working with horses teach us about power and communication?

‘When you work with a horse, you are a herd of two.’

Growing up in a small Swiss village, Caroline Wolfer found herself much more at ease around horses than people. Now working as a horse tamer in Patagonia, she has developed an understanding of horses based on what she describes as male and female ‘energies’, with the behaviours of stallions rooted in respect, and the behaviours of mares rooted in trust. Wolfer believes that, in human interactions, these two equally vital energies are out of balance, with the scale tilted heavily towards the male. In her work teaching humans to interact with horses at a corral, she emphasises the value of both male and female energies, and the importance of being straightforward in communicating. In doing so, Wolfer feels that she has helped people with their everyday interpersonal skills, and also helped herself to find comfort around other people.

Director: Diane Crespo

Producers: Belle Casares, Diane Crespo

Website: Cicala Filmworks

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