The Maker: The Beguiling Preciousness of Life and Love

The Maker: The Beguiling Preciousness of Life and Love

The Maker is an acclaimed stop-motion animated short film directed by Christopher Kezelos, which has screened and wan major film awards at a number of film festivals. The film has recently been nominated for Best Animated Short Film in the 2013 Short of the Week Awards, with winners to be announced beginning February11, 2013.

The Maker is set in a dimly-lit fantasy world, where a strange rabbit-like creature races against time, as he attempts to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life. Freud more than once implied that what is fundamental to our sense of happiness is the ability to love and work. Similarly, director Kezelos describes The Maker as an exploration of “the preciousness of our moments on earth, the short time we have with loved ones and the enjoyment of ones life’s work and purpose. In their fleeting existence our characters experience joy, love, hard work, purpose, loss and loneliness.”

The Maker: The Beguiling Preciousness of  Life and Love

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Adam Phillips: Thinking Aloud on Pleasure and Frustration

Adam Phillips: Thinking Aloud on Pleasure and Frustration

The best lives, like the worst lives, are driven lives.

Adam Phillips, Going Sane (2005)

Thinking Aloud on Pleasure and Frustration is a six-minute documentary short film featuring Adam Phillips, an English psychotherapist/psychoanalyst, literary critic and the author of several well-known books, including: The Beast in the Nursery: On Curiosity and Other Appetites; On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored; Going Sane; On Kindness and most recently, On Balance. Phillips has written widely, from a unique psychoanalytic perspective, on a range of themes central to concepts such as the human condition, human suffering, desire, pleasure and the good life. As a practicing psychoanalyst, he offers a refreshingly subtle analysis of these concepts, grounded in the lives of actual persons. Phillips delivers his thoughts here with an unusually open and rich quality of fluid extemporaneous prose.

Adam Phillips: Thinking Aloud on Pleasure and Frustration

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The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box is a fascinating short film by English illustrator and filmmaker Temujin Doran, which was named a finalist in the 2011 Nokia Shorts Video Contest. Thousands of videos from around the world were submitted and judged over a four month period, and from those seven films were selected as finalists. The seven finalists were screened and judged at the 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Temujin’s short film has been described rather simply as the story of one boy’s escapades with a large cardboard box, which he uses as a gateway to a multitude of fantasy adventures. The film is, of course, much more than that; it is no accident that Temujin cited the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip as the main inspiration for his film. As with the major underlying theme of Calvin and Hobbes, this film can be viewed as a contemporary narrative about one young boy’s uses of a transitional object in his play and illusions as explorations of ideas about identity and the self. Ultimately, the film becomes a perfect combination of humor and melancholy loss.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

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Asparagus: An Erotically Surreal Dream inside Pandora’s Box

Asparagus: An Erotically Surreal Dream inside Pandora’s Box

Asparagus is a stunning animated short film created by Suzan Pitt, a matted-cel work that film critics have hailed as a visionary masterpiece and one of the most lavish and wondrous animated short films ever made.  Asparagus is the now classic film that assured Pitt’s reputation as a major American animator.  After taking four years to make, Asparagus, completed in 1979, won awards around the world, including First Prize at the Oberhausen Film Festival in Germany and awards at Ann Arbor, Baltimore and Atlanta Film Festivals in the United States.

Pitt went on to produce a number of other animated projects, as well as to design the first two operas to include animated images for the stage (Damnation of Faust and The Magic Flute) in Germany.  In addition, she created large multimedia shows at the Venice Biennale and at Harvard University.  A former Associate Professor at Harvard University, Pitt has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship and three production grants from the National Endowment of the Arts.  She presently teaches in the Experimental Animation Program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Asparagus is designed like a Pandora’s box, opening up visions into the depths of a woman’s inner world, merging sensual and surrealistic imagery conceived in the form of a Freudian dream.  Its mythical visual narrative and dreamscape focuses on erotic metaphors and intellectual references that reflect a thoughtful manner of artistic creativity deeply imbued with the vital nexus between formal experimentation and the exploration of the obscure, dark forces that lurk behind human psyche and praxis.

Defying analytic efforts since the 1980s, Asparagus, arguably Pitt’s finest work, is a deeply symbolic reflection on issues of female sexuality, art and identity, and that’s probably as far as one can go.  The visual narrative is as lavish and vibrant as it is elusive and hermetic, and Pitt’s claim that Asparagus was not designed with an intention to be reflected upon but rather to be emotionally experienced seems reasonable in the face of immense interpretive difficulties raised by the struggle between its unstoppable flow of onirical but culturally familiar imagery, as well as our equally untamed desire for exegetical decomposition.

Asparagus: An Erotically Surreal Dream inside Pandora’s Box

Slide Show: Asparagus/An Erotically Surreal Dream in Pandora’s Box

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love is  a new short film directed by the veteran English street artist and urban videographer Rob Chiu, aka The Ronin.  The film was made in collaboration with an urban youth program called the I Care Revolution, which encompasses a multitude of talented artists working together to empower young people to make a difference in the lives of others.

Set against the harsh backdrop of inner city London, Fear/Love interweaves the lives of three adolescents who never really meet each other, but whose actions intersect and interpenetrate as they struggle with who they are, who they want to be and who they are becoming.  Their lives enact the central quest for the ever-evasive heuristic sense of identity, whether that means not knowing your identity, being ashamed of who you are, trying to become someone else or looking for acceptance.

Their intertwining journeys take them down paths mixing visions of potential identity with yearnings for love, wishes for intimacy that are inevitably thwarted by their fears of others.  Ultimately, decadent overindulgence gives rise to self-destructive acts, leading up to a horrible event.

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

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And the Walls Came Down: Two Voices of Shared Mortality

And the Walls Came Down: Two Voices of Shared Mortality

They weren’t asked: Will you?
They  were asked: Can you?

And the Walls Came Down is a challenging, thought-provocative short film by Adam Witten, a crime drama set within critical moments of mutual confrontation with potential death.  The film uses the duality of its two main characters, the criminal and the agent of the law, to reveal the reciprocal nature of interpersonal relationships, in this case through a tragic awareness of human mortality.  Although each believes himself to be the opposite of the other, in fact each is disclosed to be the co-constructor of the other person’s fate.  They are interwined voices singing the same anthem of self-destruction, which Norman Mailer titled The Executioner’s Song.

And the Walls Came Down: Two Voices of Shared Mortality

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Photo of the Day: Carousel-Horse-Under-Plastic

Photo of the Day: Carousel-Horse-Under-Plastic

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

Un Tour de Manège: A Ride on a Magical Carousel

Un Tour de Manège (A Ride on a Fairground Carousel) is an enchanting animated short film, a metaphoric fairy tale in which a magical carousel takes a little girl on the ocean voyage of a lifetime.  It’s a story about childhood fears of early separation from the mother, and of being thrust all alone into the vast ocean of life.  In the end, the girl is magically saved and returned to the soothing arms of her mother.  At that point she secretly turns to the audience and mischievously winks to let us know that in spite of the dangers, she had quite enjoyed herself!

Un Tour de Manège: A Ride on a Magical Carousel

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