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What we’re watching: in which we ponder people with scars, the making of sex dolls, a birth in Sierra Leone and the soul of Athens

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There has been some debate of late over just how “cinematic” documentary multimedia should be. (See the comments on this Khalid Mohtaseb post on the DSLR News Shooter blog, brought to our attention by Josh Benton at Nieman Lab, and also filmmaker Travis Fox’s response on the same site.) Today, however, we’re taking a look at videos that capture a different kind of movie vibe. Most of the following shorts use formal images that work in tension with music or audio of subjects to create interesting emotional effects. A kind of anti-narrative stillness in the visuals deepens the story that is delivered through sound.

videos from The Human Project

The Human Project, a “new experimental documentary web series” from Receive Bacon Productions, has episodes that are often grouped by themes (people who have found dead bodies, people who have scars). The camera work recalls Wes Anderson’s movies, and each installment is surprisingly moving. Watch the clever relationship between the visuals and the audio in this trailer (via @letsfu on Twitter).

Honey Pie,” a piece about an artist who makes sex dolls, comes from California Is a Place, whose “Scrapertown” we have admired before. (Fair warning – there are some explicit, though pretty sterile, images in the film.) If you are like us, you will be profoundly disturbed. You might also laugh. And you will probably think about the sex industry, beauty and loneliness for some time afterward (via @koci on Twitter).

What You Have,” from Brad Vest and Kelsey Spellman, looks at the reasons people have for living away from cities and towns. The last subjects, Darren and Kim Wilson, are especially engaging. Making solid use of the same kind of disconnect between visuals and audio employed by the makers of The Human Project, this film is part of the “Soul of Athens” effort from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. In its fourth year, the student project “seeks to carry on the tradition of defining the vibrant and diverse community in and around Athens, Ohio” (via @zlwise on Twitter).

Taking a more traditional tack is “Where Every Pregnancy Is a Gamble,” part of the “My Story, My Goal” project from the University of Miami Knight Center for International Media. Producers Ami Vitale and Lauren Malkani focus on Fatimata Konte’s pregnancy, managing to include joyful, complex visuals of Sierra Leone alongside the hard realities of poverty and maternal mortality that undergird the piece (via @tomkennedy on Twitter).




One comment

  1. David
    posted July 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm | permalink

    This sex dolls video is an amazing journey in 5 minutes of video. Kudos

One trackback

  1. [...] at the University of Miami, won the Online Video Journalism student award (in July, we noted the “Where Every Pregnancy Is a Gamble” story from this [...]

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