The waiting room

30 minutes

Tower

19 minutes

Gradations

2 minutes

Last acre

12 minutes

The wolf dividing Norway

29 minutes

‘This is what cancer looks like’: facing illness with humour, honesty and an iPhone

When the UK director and artist Victoria Mapplebeck was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, she began using her iPhone to chronicle her experience as a patient and single mother. Constructed from text messages, voicemails, snippets from video diaries, intimate conversations with her teenage son, Jimmy, and shots of the dreary parade of doctor’s visits, her film The Waiting Room is a remarkably warm and honest account of the ups and downs of cancer treatment. At the core of the story are Mapplebeck’s candour and her relationship with Jimmy, entwined threads that allow the film to incorporate such an eclectic range of media and turn mundane moments into something deeply moving. Without any veneer of Pollyannaish cheerleading or facile self-pity, Mapplebeck’s invitation into the intimacy of her experience offers no easy answers. It does, however, encourage compassion and communication as somehow essential to pulling through.

Each memory in different strokes: how four siblings recall a tumultuous childhood

From 1964 to 1985, Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship. Hundreds of dissidents either went missing or were killed in secret, and more than 20,000 people were tortured. This animated documentary from the Brazilian director Nádia Mangolini mines the memories the four Gomes da Silva siblings whose father went missing and whose mother was imprisoned in a tower during this period of political tumult. As each sibling in ascending order of age recounts individual memories of their parents, their disappearances and the family’s exile to Cuba and Chile, the film shifts between visual styles, building in detail with each narrative. Combining accomplished animated artistry with powerful storytelling, the resulting film is a poignant exploration of the vast powers and even vaster ambiguities of childhood memories.

Director: Nádia Mangolini

Website: Estúdio Teremim

Delight as the hard-edged world melts into a full-rainbow spectrum of reality

Created by the Japanese director and designer Daihei Shibata for the Japanese educational TV programme Design Ah, the short video Gradations relishes in the blurring and stretching of visual borders. With a Zenned-out soundtrack augmenting the pleasing imagery, the short serves up a series of brief sequences in which commonplace visuals – from city lights to coffee and milk – shift from binary to an increasingly gradated spectrum. Beyond its oddly satisfying effect, the piece suggests hidden worlds of complexity even in the most mundane places. For more design wizardry from Shibata, watch Unendurable Line.

Via The Kid Should See This

Director: Daihei Shibata

A world of shacks and shanties is a place of makeshift beauty on England’s margins

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of impoverished Britons set out in search of their own Arcadia. They found it, for a time, in poorly developed strips of land that had been neglected or abandoned by others. This cheap or sometimes even free land gave these pioneers a place to build their own humble shacks out of old bits of wood and boat, creating utopias that came to be called ‘Plotlands’. Life in the Plotlands continues still, and is precarious, improvised and marginal – yet full of rugged beauty. The UK filmmakers Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan capture that makeshift, unconventional beauty in this short documentary, set to Peter Warlock’s inimitable composition The Curlew (1920-22) and filmed on the salt marshes of Lowsy Point near Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England.

Directors: Jacob Cartwright, Nick Jordan

Narrator: Judy May

The divisive debate over hunting Norway’s endangered wolves

During the 1960s, wolves nearly vanished from Norway’s landscape due to overhunting; now, there are no more than 70 wolves left in the country. Although the wild predators – known to prey on farmers’ livestock – received protection under law in 1971, the debate between hunters and conservationists over the fate of the remaining endangered population has been heated and divisive ever since. The Wolf Dividing Norway shows how this debate culminates in December 2019, as groups on both sides of the conflict wait to hear whether the government will authorise the annual winter wolf hunt. With unprecedented access to remote communities at the heart of the debate, the Norwegian documentary filmmaker Kyrre Lien humanises the frustration coming from both sides, providing a sensitive look at one of Norway’s most polarising topics.

Director: Kyrre Lien

‘This is what cancer looks like’: facing illness with humour, honesty and an iPhone

When the UK director and artist Victoria Mapplebeck was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, she began using her iPhone to chronicle her experience as a patient and single mother. Constructed from text messages, voicemails, snippets from video diaries, intimate conversations with her teenage son, Jimmy, and shots of the dreary parade of doctor’s visits, her film The Waiting Room is a remarkably warm and honest account of the ups and downs of cancer treatment. At the core of the story are Mapplebeck’s candour and her relationship with Jimmy, entwined threads that allow the film to incorporate such an eclectic range of media and turn mundane moments into something deeply moving. Without any veneer of Pollyannaish cheerleading or facile self-pity, Mapplebeck’s invitation into the intimacy of her experience offers no easy answers. It does, however, encourage compassion and communication as somehow essential to pulling through.

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Elizabeth I of England (c1588), artist unknown. One of three known as the Armada portraits and on display in Woburn Abbey. Courtesy Wikipedia

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