Digital Storytelling Short Documentary Review

My blog project for this week was to do the following:

Do a substantial blog entry comparing the film we watched in class last time:

  1. Happiness is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (https://vimeo.com/259229361)
  2. Period. End of Sentence (Netflix)
  3. Black Sheep https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2018/11/03/black-sheep/

 

All these short documentary were nominated for an Oscar. They all had different styles and covered various subjects.

Happiness is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is about a middle aged artists living in LA. struggling to deal with her mental distorter. You are drawn into this film right away through the dreamlike visuals and the absurdity of the main character stating that she loves being stuck in traffic. Soon after the opening scene we are thrust into a small apartment packed with furniture, art supplies, and other household items. It was not that the house was dirty but that it was just contained lots of items for such a small space. In this setting we are truly introduced to the focus of the documentary, Mindy. She begins to show us her massive amount of medication that she takes to keep her mental stable. We are also introduced to her art for the first time. At first her drawing look childish and haphazardly, however as the story progress we begin to see she has massive talent. Her style is her own and it is an outward representation of her mental conflict. As the story progresses we learn about her childhood and the abusive relationship she had with her mother and father. Her drawings and the imagery during this part of the film is the most shocking and it has the power to bring some to tears. As the story progresses we learn more about her daily struggles to maintain a functioning life, while dealing with anxiety, and depression. We then begin to learn about her current art projects and how they are a creative outlet for her. Her artwork is not only intriguing, but also therapeutic for her. We learn more about her current social relationships with her Dr. and her art mentor. The film concludes with art show opening of her work. This was hands down the most captivating film of the three for me personally. I felt empathy for her at times and was almost brought to tears on several occasions. I think one of the primary reasons I was so captivated with the film was Mindy’s way of speaking. Because of her mental state and probably the electroshock therapy it was hard for her at time to formulate concise and articulate speech. This made the viewer really focus in to understand what she was talking about. It made her more realistic in the context of the story.

 

Period. End of Sentence is about the plight of rural Indian women and the taboo surrounding menstruation. This Film starts off with someone off camera asking teen age students in rural India If they know what a Pad is. or if they know what menstruation is. This is compelling because you can see how visibly embarrassed everyone is with this topic. The boys honestly dont know what they are talking about and the girls are so shy they can barely make eye contact. We are then introduced to the hardships that women face when the menstruate. Girls are questioned about how they deal with it and what they know. During this portions of the film the audiences eyes are opened to just how much of a issue this is in India. Not only do women have little to no access to sanitary napkins, but many do not even understand what is happening with their body. next we are introduced to the Pad Man. An entrepreneur in India that has invented a machine that makes low cost Pads. He brings his machine to the village and teaches the women how to use it. Then we see how hard the women work to produce the pad and sell them. It is not an easy task for the women to sell the pads at first, but then as the story goes on the pads quickly sell out. During the film there is a subplot of one of the village women wanting to become a police officer. This was a strange addition to the film and I think it could have been totally cut. If they wanted to add in other stories of women overcoming obstacle that is fine just add a few more in. Not just a single one that detracts from the primary narrative. This is probably my largest complaint of the film. In the end it was worth a watch to remind everyone in the west that not all people in the world have it as easy as us.

 

Black Sheep tells the story of Cornelius a black man that lives in England. It discusses his encounter with racism and how he adapted to the challenges.  The film style change between a first person close up shot of Cornelius telling a story from his childhood, and dramatization of the events he describes. the story begins with the reasons his family left London and moved to a small estate in Essex. He soon realizes that the neighborhood is predominately occupied by white racists. He gets into a fight with some of these students and then decided the best thing for him to do is become more like them to fit in. He dyes his hair, puts in blue contacts, bleaches his skin, and begins to dress like them. The majority of the film is him relaying the things he did to fit in and the reasons behind them. He also comments on his current thoughts on many of the events. To be honest after he becomes accepted the story sort of fizzles. It seems to loose direction and has no proper puntuations. Not to take away the hardships that he endured, I just kept waiting for some dramatic revelation or event. I thought this was going to happen when he decided to beat down the man with the bike, but nothing came about because of that. In the end it was a nicely produced film, but lacked a narrative that would leave a view fully satisfied or intrigued.

 

These films are all good and bad in their own ways. Each brings light to different social issue we face in the modern world and all were technically sound. I think that each has their own relatability, so every viewer would be drawn to different films in different ways.

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