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Down from the mountains

15 minutes

Maybe it’s me

6 minutes

Gargantuan

1 minute

The beauty of gefilte fish

11 minutes

Timelapse of the future

29 minutes

Aeon for Friends

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Why millions of children are left to raise themselves in the Chinese countryside

While industrialisation has prompted unprecedented economic growth and allowed for the rise of a new middle class in China, urbanisation has also left some 9 million children in the countryside alone or in the care of relatives as their parents work in cities far from home. Down from the Mountains chronicles the lives of three children, the oldest of whom is 14, who when not in school live often unattended on a farm in Liangshan, an autonomous region for the Yi ethnic group. With their parents working in the distant city of Huizhou, where they make headphones for $15 per day, only their grandmother, who lives a 40-minute walk away, is able to supervise them and help with farm work on occasion. The UK-born director Max Duncan’s short film brings us into the lives of this fractured family as Jiajia, the mother, considers a permanent return home.

The full-length version of this film was produced in collaboration with ChinaFile, a project of the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Director: Max Duncan

Producers: Susan Jakes, Muyi Xiao, Motsi Ithlop

Aeon for Friends

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What happens to our own memories when family elders start to forget us?

‘I remember everything…’ So begins Maybe It’s Me, in which the Greek-born, London-based animator Dimitris Simou grapples with how to hold on to memories of the summer when his grandfather’s memory began to decline. Reflecting on the simultaneous robustness and fragility of memory – its power to summon a vivid scene from a single scent, and its unsettling tendency to deteriorate with age and illness – Simou recalls several distressing interactions as his grandfather slipped into dementia and no longer recognised him. Where Simou’s own memories fail him, his visuals deconstruct, revealing unfinished animations and moments of darkness that mirror the uncertainties of his recollections. The animation was a film festival favourite in 2018, screening at the BFI London Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and the Palm Springs International ShortFest, among others.

Director: Dimitris Simou

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The difference between an enormous beast and a puny newt is just a matter of perspective

Originally broadcast on BBC2’s The Late Show in 1992, this delightfully simple and clever short from the UK artist John Smith deploys a camera, an amphibian and an alarm clock to show how the chasm between ‘gargantuan’ and ‘minute’ is all in the framing.

Director: John Smith

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Delicious? Gross? The great fish dish that divides – and unites – families on Passover

Celebrated annually in early spring, Passover commemorates the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus. The holiday is generally marked by a large gathering of family and friends known as a Seder, and includes a reading of the Haggadah, a text that recounts the exodus from Egypt, and provides a guide to the traditional Passover meal, which includes matzoh (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs. This short documentary from the US director Rachel Fleit focuses on the tradition as celebrated by the Hermelin family of Detroit, in particular their relationship with a Passover dinner staple – gefilte fish. Though it plays no part in the Exodus story (it originated with Ashkenazi Jewish communities in eastern Europe), this dish of ground whitefish – with a flavour ranging from savoury to sweet, depending on the recipe – is nonetheless the most discussed culinary offering at the table. But despite its deeply polarising taste and texture, the annual gefilte fish is embraced by generations of Hermelins as a symbol of cultural tradition and familial bonds, imbued with ‘the joy of Judaism’.

Director: Rachel Fleit

Producers: Shiny Pictures, Union Entertainment

Website: The Gefilte Film

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Deep time and beyond: the great nothingness at the end of the Universe

‘The Universe becomes a cosmic boneyard, strewn with remnants of dead stars.’

This is the way the Universe ends, not with a bang, but with an unfathomably profound and gradual chill. Or, at least that’s one guess held by many scientists – but we don’t really know, and it’s entirely possible that we never will. This video from the US filmmaker and musician John Boswell starts in 2019 and plays out one theory of how everything – truly everything – will end. With the speed of the passage of time doubling every five seconds, inventive visual interpretations of cosmological phenomena, and narrated by science luminaries such as Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees and Janna Levin, the video guides us deep into a possible evolution of the Universe. Impressively translating theoretical physics and astronomically vast scales of time and space into 29 breathtaking minutes, Timelapse of the Future takes us all the way into the sublime of the unimaginable, with all the wonder and terror that might provoke.

Via Kottke

Video by John Boswell

Website: melodysheep

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Why millions of children are left to raise themselves in the Chinese countryside

While industrialisation has prompted unprecedented economic growth and allowed for the rise of a new middle class in China, urbanisation has also left some 9 million children in the countryside alone or in the care of relatives as their parents work in cities far from home. Down from the Mountains chronicles the lives of three children, the oldest of whom is 14, who when not in school live often unattended on a farm in Liangshan, an autonomous region for the Yi ethnic group. With their parents working in the distant city of Huizhou, where they make headphones for $15 per day, only their grandmother, who lives a 40-minute walk away, is able to supervise them and help with farm work on occasion. The UK-born director Max Duncan’s short film brings us into the lives of this fractured family as Jiajia, the mother, considers a permanent return home.

The full-length version of this film was produced in collaboration with ChinaFile, a project of the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Director: Max Duncan

Producers: Susan Jakes, Muyi Xiao, Motsi Ithlop

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Essay/
Social psychology
The case for empathy

In a world of difference we can – and should – work harder to cultivate subtle, perceptive empathy towards all human beings

Elizabeth Segal

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Thinking on your feet

Don’t just do it, think about it too: how Gilbert Ryle’s philosophy of mind can help athletes teach themselves to improve

Josh Habgood-Coote