The forgotten children of China’s prisoners

10 minutes

Peter and Ben

10 minutes

Sunken films

11 minutes

The paradox of the ravens

6 minutes

Shelter in place

15 minutes

With their father in prison, Wei, Yan and Won are invisible to the Chinese state

Twin sisters Wei and Yan and their younger brother Won are left on their own when their father is imprisoned for manslaughter. Like other children from poor families in China whose parents have ended up in prison or executed, the Zhang siblings face a bleak future. The children of the incarcerated are frequently abandoned by their extended families, judged by society for the deeds of their parents, and receive no social safety net from the Chinese government. The situation is particularly grave for those who don’t have state-issued identification, which prevents them from entering school and eventually finding work. For some of these children, the only hope for safety and stability is Sun Village, a privately and NGO-funded programme that houses and cares for children of Chinese convicts. This affecting short documentary joins the Zhangs at the moment when their father, who is facing a possible death sentence, makes the wrenching decision to have them taken to Sun Village. Uncertain of their father’s fate and their own future, the Zhangs attempt to find solid footing in a society that hardly acknowledges their existence.

Director: Kaspar Astrup Schröder

Producer: Katrine A Sahlstrøm

After 30 years of solitude, Peter forms an unlikely friendship with a fellow loner

‘I had left my flock, and Ben had left his.’

After taking a walk through a remote Welsh valley, Peter committed himself to a life there, and disconnected from the outside world. In doing so, he found a solitary inner peace – a peace he maintained for nearly three decades, until, one day, he stumbled upon a lamb that had been left for dead. Finding kinship with the fellow ‘dropout’, Peter took the abandoned creature home and named him Ben. The short Peter and Ben (2007) by the UK filmmaker Pinny Grylls captures the duo’s relationship three years after their chance meeting, as Peter attempts to return Ben to the wild. With a melancholic piano score and sweeping views of the Welsh countryside, her touching film lends a lyrical beauty to this tale of unlikely connection and camaraderie between outsiders.

Director: Pinny Grylls

Producer: Victoria Cameron

Score: Will Hood

Trawling for secrets in haunting films recovered from the bottom of the sea

The British ocean liner RMS Lusitania embarked on its infamous final voyage from New York to Liverpool on 1 May 1915. Six days later, torpedoed by German U-boats off the southern coast of Ireland, the ship sank in less than 20 minutes, killing 1,198 passengers and crew, and setting the US on the path to join the fight against Germany in the First World War. One of the most luxurious ocean liners of its time, the Lusitania was equipped with what was then a novelty – an onboard movie theatre.

In Sunken Films, the US artist and filmmaker Bill Morrison uses archival footage to unspool the stories of the sinking of this luxury liner, its incendiary movie reels, as well as other films about or from shipwrecks. One early clip was salvaged from the sunken Lusitania in a 1982 expedition; another mysterious film, featuring the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in 1919-20 with his cat, was recovered from a fishing net off the Danish coast in 1976. By trawling for memories in deep-sea shipwrecks, Morrison offers haunting glimpses into early-20th century film and world history.

Director: Bill Morrison

Is a red apple proof that all ravens are black? A paradox of scientific logic

Can we learn anything about what makes a raven by looking only at apples? The German-born logician Carl Gustav Hempel (1905-97) thought that, using the inductive logic that scientists rely on to prove or disprove hypotheses, you ought to be able to – but in such a way that clashes mightily with human intuition. This peculiar ripple in reasoning, which became known as ‘the raven paradox’ due to the example Hempel used to elucidate it, goes as follows:

1. All ravens are black
2. If something is not black it is not a raven
3. The fact that my pet raven is black supports the hypothesis that all ravens are black
4. The fact that my apple is red also supports the hypothesis that all ravens are black

The sequence appears to break down somewhere between the third and fourth claims. And yet, upon examination, inductive logic tells us that claim four does indeed follow. In this brief animation, Marc Lange, a professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, dissects why Hempel’s claim seems to hold to reason, even as it cuts against our intuitions in a way that seems unresolvable.

Lockdown is a way of life for the US asylum-seekers living in churches

While much of the world was adjusting to lockdown and socialising via screens, life went on more or less the same for Vicky Chavez and her two young daughters. For more than two years, they have been unable to leave the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City in Utah, their makeshift home. After Chavez was ordered to deport to her native Honduras, which she fled to escape an abusive relationship, the church provided her refuge from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – which doesn’t pursue raids at places of worship – while her case is being fought in court. In her moving short Shelter in Place, the US director Kelsie Moore captures the family’s precarious life in limbo, which includes Chavez’s regular video calls with other asylum-seekers living in churches around the country.

Director: Kelsie Moore

Website: RadioWest

With their father in prison, Wei, Yan and Won are invisible to the Chinese state

Twin sisters Wei and Yan and their younger brother Won are left on their own when their father is imprisoned for manslaughter. Like other children from poor families in China whose parents have ended up in prison or executed, the Zhang siblings face a bleak future. The children of the incarcerated are frequently abandoned by their extended families, judged by society for the deeds of their parents, and receive no social safety net from the Chinese government. The situation is particularly grave for those who don’t have state-issued identification, which prevents them from entering school and eventually finding work. For some of these children, the only hope for safety and stability is Sun Village, a privately and NGO-funded programme that houses and cares for children of Chinese convicts. This affecting short documentary joins the Zhangs at the moment when their father, who is facing a possible death sentence, makes the wrenching decision to have them taken to Sun Village. Uncertain of their father’s fate and their own future, the Zhangs attempt to find solid footing in a society that hardly acknowledges their existence.

Director: Kaspar Astrup Schröder

Producer: Katrine A Sahlstrøm

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