Sam and the plant next door

23 minutes

The driver is red

15 minutes

Making an agate teapot

7 minutes

Black sheep

16 minutes

Xmas unwrapped

2 minutes

To fight a nearby nuclear plant, 11-year-old Sam must win his own ethical battle

Childhood offers no shortage of potential anxieties, from fitting in with peers, to succeeding in school, to dealing with parents. Eleven-year-old Sam’s hopes, fears and interests, however, are rather different from those of most of his classmates: Hinkley Point C, Britain’s largest nuclear power plant is going up next door to his home in Somerset, England, and Sam is deeply concerned about its effect on the environment – especially the marine life off the coast. Between discussing the the potential for a surprise war or the values of veganism with a friend, Sam is consumed by his dream of becoming a marine biologist. Perhaps he can protect the fish threatened by the plant? The problem is, the private schools that Sam thinks might best set him up for the profession are enormously expensive, and his parents don’t have the money. A conundrum arises for the exceedingly ethical Sam: Should he accept a contribution from the company that owns the plant to help his family offset the high cost of school? Constructed with nuance and care by the Copenhagen-based director Ömer Sami, Sam and the Plant Next Door (2019) is an affectionate exploration of a precocious childhood and what it’s like to have strong convictions at odds with the world around you.

A spy thriller for an era in which the Holocaust risks being forgotten

‘The noose that had hung his friends after the war for what they had done, the noose that he thought he had escaped, had found him.’

In the wake of the Second World War, former SS officials and Nazi collaborators fled Europe, hoping to evade prosecution and knowing that South American governments were sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Adolf Eichmann, the chief ‘architect’ of the Holocaust, was the highest ranking member of the Third Reich to escape to the continent, where he made Buenos Aires his new home and ‘Ricardo Klement’ his new name.

The US artist Randall Christopher’s animation The Driver Is Red follows the Israeli mission that captured Eichmann on 11 May 1960, forcing him to finally stand trial for his crimes. With the pace and tension of a spy thriller, the short documentary frames the fervour for justice as a tribute to those who committed themselves to tracking down Nazi war criminals long after the Second World War’s end. Now that very few people with memories of Nazism’s rise are still alive, Christopher made the film freely available online, warning of the ominous spectre of ‘extreme nationalism, open racism, attacks on the press [and] reckless talk of war’ in our own era.

Director: Randall Christopher

Producers: Jared Callahan, Randall Christopher, Spencer Rabin

Website: The Driver Is Red

How do you bring an 18th-century ceramic teapot to life? An artist puzzles it out

Agateware is a distinctive style of ceramics that became popular in England during the 18th century. Crafting it calls for an intricate process of moulding and layering clay materials, culminating in a marbleised, multicoloured glow on each piece after glaze firing. In this short video from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Michelle Erickson – an American ceramic artist who was a ceramics resident there in 2012 – attempts to recreate an 18th-century agateware teapot from the museum’s collection. Combining historical expertise with educated guesswork and artistic dexterity, she works out how to duplicate the original. While her final product is an impressive display of artistic mimicry, the true marvel of her work is the way that her thinking shapes and is shaped by the act of her making.

What ultranationalism offers working-class teens in England’s north

The British filmmaker Christian Cerami knows firsthand how easily white working-class teens in the north of England can succumb to racist and Islamophobic ideologies. His short documentary Black Sheep (2015) follows Sam and Jack, two teenage brothers in the same town where Cerami was raised, who feel the pull of the far-Right anti-Muslim organisation the English Defence League (EDL). With their parents seemingly absent, the two brothers set out to attend an EDL protest in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 12 October 2013. The march marked the group’s first demonstration since its controversial leader Tommy Robinson resigned, claiming that the organisation he’d co-founded had grown too extreme. While the older brother Sam finds fraternity and a sense of purpose amid the mob, 13-year-old Jack waivers between naive enthusiasm and skepticism. With a raw but purposeful observational style, Cerami skilfully traces both distressing and poignant moments to convey the deep contradictions of ultranationalism.

Director: Christian Cerami

Producer: Alex Sedgley

Director of Production: Simon Plunket

Christmas is coming and Santa’s Chinese workshops have been on the case since summer

Ah, the holiday season: friends, family, good cheer and cheap disposable goods at every turn. This wryly festive short by the UK filmmaker Toby Smith takes us on a brief tour of what are known as ‘just-in-time’ factories in Yuwe in China, facilities that produce seasonally themed commodities for consumption in the West. Set to a children’s choir belting out an insistently cheerful Cantonese rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’, Xmas Unwrapped shows one stop on the supply chain of items such as candied apples, Christmas hats and other assorted seasonal trinkets with limited shelf lives. Depending on one’s ideological bent, it can be seen as a takedown of holiday wastefulness or an oddball celebration of global commerce. Far less ambiguous, however, is Smith, for whom the film is ‘a jab at Western consumption’.

To fight a nearby nuclear plant, 11-year-old Sam must win his own ethical battle

Childhood offers no shortage of potential anxieties, from fitting in with peers, to succeeding in school, to dealing with parents. Eleven-year-old Sam’s hopes, fears and interests, however, are rather different from those of most of his classmates: Hinkley Point C, Britain’s largest nuclear power plant is going up next door to his home in Somerset, England, and Sam is deeply concerned about its effect on the environment – especially the marine life off the coast. Between discussing the the potential for a surprise war or the values of veganism with a friend, Sam is consumed by his dream of becoming a marine biologist. Perhaps he can protect the fish threatened by the plant? The problem is, the private schools that Sam thinks might best set him up for the profession are enormously expensive, and his parents don’t have the money. A conundrum arises for the exceedingly ethical Sam: Should he accept a contribution from the company that owns the plant to help his family offset the high cost of school? Constructed with nuance and care by the Copenhagen-based director Ömer Sami, Sam and the Plant Next Door (2019) is an affectionate exploration of a precocious childhood and what it’s like to have strong convictions at odds with the world around you.

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