Crannog

15 minutes

Samurai rules for peace and war

20 minutes

Colette

25 minutes

Light and microscopy

13 minutes

The stroke

7 minutes

‘When it comes to the end, we all want the same things.’ Why animals need a good death

Alexis Fleming has devoted her life to providing palliative care for sick and disabled animals. At the animal hospice she established in rural Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, she treats every sheep, chicken and pig with the same gentle care and patience that most people reserve for dear friends and family. Underlying her work is a deep conviction, with her since childhood, that all animals desire comfort, safety and companionship in their final days. Fleming herself is living with a life-threatening disease, and her proximity to death somehow buoys her up as she tends to the sick and dying around her. In making her short documentary Crannog with a spare, observational style, the Glasgow-based director Isa Rao mirrors the intimacy, strength and tenderness of Fleming’s labour of love. The video’s title comes from the Gaelic for an ancient form of dwelling found in Ireland and Scotland that often housed extended families, and is an apt metaphor for Fleming’s world, one in which moments of intense joy and sorrow are unified by a deeply felt sense of purpose in caring for others.

Director: Isa Rao

Producer: Tom van den Hurk

Website: Scottish Documentary Institute, Guardian Documentaries

A samurai rulebook offers guidance on how to kill enemies and refrain from gossip

From the 10th century till their abolition in the 1870s, samurai were a class of Japanese military nobility who inherited lives as warrior protectorates (bushi) for feudal lords, and had a notoriously strict and intricate honour code. This video from the YouTube channel Voices of the Past explores two scrolls from the famed samurai school Natori-Ryu’s 17th-century rulebook. The first scroll has codes of conduct for peacetime, with guidance ranging from the universal, such as the pitfalls of talking behind someone’s back, to the extremely samurai-specific, such as keeping a home garden that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to enemy attack. The second scroll lays out the rules of engagement in wartime and paints a much more violent portrait of samurai life, built around intricate rules for killing and being killed. These primary sources offer an intriguing window into the samurai value system, in which loss of reputation was considered a fate far worse than death.

A French resistance fighter reluctantly revisits her past in this Oscar-winning portrait

During the Nazi occupation of France, 14-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine joined the French resistance alongside her family. ‘We were playing cat and mouse. And playing with fire. Or rather, fire was playing with us,’ Marin-Catherine, now 92, recalls. Sadly, not everyone in her family would live to see France liberated. Her brother Jean-Pierre was just 17 when he was arrested for stockpiling weapons. He would die in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in March 1945, just three weeks before the camp was liberated.

In this short documentary, Marin-Catherine faces her trauma with the support of a history student named Lucie Fouble – only 17 years old herself. For the first time in her life, and with Fouble ever by her side, Marin-Catherine travels from France to Germany to visit the camp where some 20,000 Nazi prisoners including her brother died. The US director Anthony Giacchino and the French producer Alice Doyard won the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for this poignant portrait of bravery and healing amid the long, painful echoes of the Second World War. An accomplished and moving piece of filmmaking, Colette is a reminder of the tremendous power of individual stories to humanise history.

Director: Anthony Giacchino

Producer: Alice Doyard

Website: Guardian Documentaries

There’s no one way a microbe looks, only different clever methods to see it

In one sense, there are many ways to see a microbe, but in another, truly none at all. That’s to say, the array of microscopy methods developed since the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first peered into the microbial world in the 1670s are, by necessity, extraordinary distortions. Each represents a means of manipulating light to translate creatures that are, by definition, too small for the human eye to see. The result is a microbial world in which a single creature can look entirely different depending on the microscopy method used to capture it. This video from the YouTube channel Journey to the Microcosmos takes viewers on a tour of the many clever methods that scientists have developed to shine a light on small-scale life. The result is both an intriguing slice of science history and a highly illuminating visual investigation.

Via Kottke

Video by Journey to the Microcosmos

Host: Hank Green

Producer: Matthew Gaydos

A unique multisensory art experiment that begins and ends with a brush stroke

Having created the artwork for all of Ill Considered’s previous albums, the Dutch artist Vincent de Boer took on a unique project to invert the role of music and images in his collaborations with the London-based improvisational jazz ensemble. First, Boer hand-drew thousands of images to create an abstract animation, with the visuals giving the impression of a surreal journey beginning and ending with a single brush stroke. Then, reversing the roles of sounds and images in the standard music video-making process, Ill Considered improvised a composition to the images upon first sight of the artwork. An engrossing viewing experience in its own right, The Stroke transforms into an even more fascinating slice of multisensory art in the context of its unique concept. You can watch a behind-the-scenes video that chronicles the two years of its making here.

Director: Vincent de Boer

Music: Ill Considered

‘When it comes to the end, we all want the same things.’ Why animals need a good death

Alexis Fleming has devoted her life to providing palliative care for sick and disabled animals. At the animal hospice she established in rural Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, she treats every sheep, chicken and pig with the same gentle care and patience that most people reserve for dear friends and family. Underlying her work is a deep conviction, with her since childhood, that all animals desire comfort, safety and companionship in their final days. Fleming herself is living with a life-threatening disease, and her proximity to death somehow buoys her up as she tends to the sick and dying around her. In making her short documentary Crannog with a spare, observational style, the Glasgow-based director Isa Rao mirrors the intimacy, strength and tenderness of Fleming’s labour of love. The video’s title comes from the Gaelic for an ancient form of dwelling found in Ireland and Scotland that often housed extended families, and is an apt metaphor for Fleming’s world, one in which moments of intense joy and sorrow are unified by a deeply felt sense of purpose in caring for others.

Director: Isa Rao

Producer: Tom van den Hurk

Website: Scottish Documentary Institute, Guardian Documentaries

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Locals at the Marienfluss Conservancy in Namibia meet to discuss conservation. Photo courtesy of NACSO/WWF Namibia

Essay/
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