Documentary

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Documentary Science

A Conservationist Teaches Geese to Use Safer Migration Routes by Flying With Them Across Europe

May 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

Back in 1995, Christian Moullec embarked on his first migration alongside a flock of lesser white-fronted geese that he intended to introduce to Sweden. He flew an adapted delta plane alongside the birds, which were threatened after being overhunted, and protect them on their journey. This initial mission quickly morphed into a now decades-long project of training avian populations to utilize more secure paths as they travel across Europe, ensuring that the already dwindled species would survive the trek and be able to reproduce.

English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott (previously) joins Moullec on one of the flights above Southern France as they glide in a microlight aircraft just inches from the animals—Scott is so close that he’s able to touch goose’s tail feathers. Reaching this level of intimacy takes dedication and immersion in the flock, Moullec shares, saying that he raises the birds, sleeps with them, and even bathes in the pond on his property. This establishes trust and is essential as they define their routes, which sometimes traverse thousands of kilometers each day. “I’m not the one who teaches the birds to fly with me,” Moullec shares. “I’ve been flying with birds for 27 years, and they taught me how to fly with them.”

In addition to his conservation-oriented flights, Moullec offers passenger trips for those interested in joining the flock, and you can find more about his work on his site. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Design Documentary History

A Massive Chainmail Shelter Prevents a Renowned Scottish Mansion from Dissolving in the Rain

February 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

The coastal town of Helensburgh is located in one of the wettest regions of Scotland, averaging more than 190 days and 63 inches of rainfall each year, and it’s also the site of an architectural masterpiece by famed designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Built in 1904, “Hill House” is a modern construction with a focus on light and texture, and its facade is made of gray Portland cement rather than a more traditional and hardier substance like lime.

While the material was innovative at the time, it hasn’t endured the wet conditions of its surroundings and has started to deteriorate and crumble as it soaks up moisture from the air and ground—the National Trust of Scotland, which manages the home, describes it as “dissolving like an aspirin in a glass of water.” To dry out the facade and hopefully preserve it for generations to come, the trust commissioned a giant, greenhouse-like box to sit over top.

English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott visits the porous covering, which at 32.4 million steel rings is the largest sheet of chainmail in the world, in a short documentary that reveals how the uniquely designed mesh structure has become a landmark of sustainability and innovative conservation in its own right. He discusses the unusual reasons for a permeable wall, the ways the chainmail offers the proper amount of ventilation without sacrificing protection, and how the multi-story walkways allow for otherwise impossible views of the “Hill House” roof and upper floors. Join Scott on his tour above to see the enclosure up-close, and in case you missed it, make sure to watch his trip to this mountain of mannequins.

 

 

 



Design Documentary

Wander Through a Mountain of 25,000 Mannequins in an Astounding Look at Consumerism and Waste

January 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

In a wooded area of Lincolnshire, it’s not unusual for people to partake in what’s dubbed a “drive through body part heist.” The preposterously named activity involves a trip to Mannakin—a Midlands mannequin distributor frequented by a wide array of clientele like merchandisers, film crews, and Halloween devotees—where visitors spend 15 minutes scouring its meters-high pile of discarded forms for, none other than, body parts. These challenges to fill a car with as many pieces as possible are just one part of the company’s business model, which involves saving the used fiberglass displays from landfills and returning them to the retail ecosystem.

English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott walks through the staggering heap in a recent video and talks with director Roz Edwards, who’s amassed about 25,000 figures from locations all over Europe that are now scattered across the property. The short documentary project dives into the company’s process for revitalizing worn arms, legs, and torsos and confronts the strange, surreal environment created when thousands of lifeless bodies occupy a single space in what’s ultimately a striking visual indictment of consumerism and our collective approach to waste.

You also might find this short documentary set in a mannequin factory interesting.

 

 

 



Animation Documentary

Absurd Office Etiquette and Sincere Storytelling: Colossal's Top Short Films of 2021

December 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

Suffice to say, 2021 has been an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s no surprise that the short films topping Colossal’s list span the gamut: there are uncomfortable situations of poor (and relatable) office etiquette, heartwrenching indictments of the injustices around us, and purely fun works of animation. We’ve listed the most-watched shorts here and included a few extras in case you need to escape from end-of-year work projects or family gatherings.

 

“Moonwalk” by Nalle Sjoblad

Nalle Sjoblad’s “Moonwalk” uses brutal Home Alone-esque sequences of poor planning, office rage, and failure to appreciate even basic spatial relationships in order to remind us that the most uncomfortable, humiliating scenarios only last for a moment.

 

“Career Limiting” by Anna Mantzaris

Swedish director Anna Mantzaris follows a mischievous character through a series of wildly inappropriate misdeeds and poor office etiquette. Created collaboratively by Passion Pictures and Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, the lighthearted-turned-sincere short film compares snipping off a coworker’s tie or wreaking workplace havoc to the unfair penalties of being a mother.

 

“Voice Above Water” by Dana Frankoff

Each day, 90-year-old Wayan gathers his nets and mesh sacks and sets his small boat out on the coast of Bali, although he’s adapted his routine in recent years: rather than harvesting food for his family and community, he scoops up wrappers, bottles, and other refuse and carries the discarded material back to the beach for recycling. San Francisco-based director Dana Frankoff visits Wayan at his coastal home in her impactful debut “Voice Above Water.”

 

“Save Ralph” by Arch Model Studio

Created for the Humane Society of the United States, “Save Ralph” is a poignant and heartbreaking critique of animal testing. It follows a modest rabbit whose life revolves around his role as a product tester and chronicles his struggles to brush his teeth, back pain, and a harsh round of trials for various beauty-related goods.

 

“Dead Meat” by Adnan Peer Mohamed

Selfish, hungry, and more cunning than he appears, the zany seagull in Adnan Peer Mohamed’s “Dead Meat” sends feathers flying. The animated short opens with the creature scouring a boardwalk for food, and after mistaking a bolt for a snack, he snatches an entire hotdog only to find a fellow bird is after the same sausage.

 

We also enjoyed: Pascal Schelbli’s poignant animation that reimagines plastic waste as ocean life, Roman De Giuli’s mesmerizing timelapse of ink gushing across the earth like water, and Patrick Smith’s hypnotic short film that rhythmically spins through 3,745 masks from around the world.

 

 



Art Documentary Photography

Paper & Glue: A New Documentary Follows JR Through Some of His Most Iconic Projects

December 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

A new feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes with French artist JR to capture some of his most significant projects to date, including his poignant photographic work of a child peering over the U.S./Mexico border wall and pair of installations at a maximum-security prison in Tehachapi, California. Paper & Glue follows the renowned artist through the evolution of his practice from early graffiti days to his current undertakings—his anamorphic work at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi earlier this year and his illusory transformation of the Louvre courtyard in 2019 are both evidence of his growth—that are increasingly massive in scope and impact and often shine a light on humanitarian issues.

“The film is the culmination of years of my work and includes an archive of photography and videos
that span back to my adolescence. At the time of many of these recordings, I had no intention or awareness they could be used in this way,” JR says. “
I hope this film further uplifts the essentiality of art and the potential it holds to reshape even our most ingrained beliefs.

Paper & Glue is currently in theaters around the U.S. and premieres on December 10 on MSNBC.

 

 

 



Craft Documentary

In 'Raw Craft,' the Late Anthony Bourdain Visits the Bay Area Press Utilizing 19th-Century Bookmaking Techniques

October 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

Regardless of its unabashed tech culture, San Francisco remains a hub for analog artforms, hosting an annual festival that uses a 7-ton steamroller to print linocuts and housing one of the last remaining publishers of its kind. Arion Press is dedicated to the age-old practice of bookmaking, and with a small team of type casters, proofreaders, printers, and binders, painstakingly produces artist publications entirely by hand.

An episode of Raw Craft, a film series produced by The Balvenie distillery, visits the publisher with the late Anthony Bourdain as host. For three seasons, the beloved chef, writer, and travel icon toured the U.S. visiting tailors, metal casters, saxophone designers, and myriad crafters devoted to traditional techniques. On his stop at Arion Press, Bourdain explores all steps of the bookmaking process, from using 19th Century technology to print each letter with metal type, proofing the text by reading out loud, and stitching each page by hand.

Dive into the publisher’s process in the episode above, check out some of its latest projects on Instagram, and browse publications, notebooks, cards, and other goods in its shop. You also might enjoy this film chronicling the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times.

 

 

 

A Colossal

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Sailing Ship Kite