The first day back at work for the new year is always a drag.
Thanks to Vimeo’s Best of the Year Picks though, I was able to ease back into the daily grind with their top 10 documentaries nominees below, under the guise of research. After you chip away at this pretty incredible list, go check out the rest of the nominees in the Action Sports, Drama, Animation, Comedy, Experimental, Travel, Branded Story, and Brand Story (we’re up for the top prize for this one) categories, and leave those 457 unread emails for another day. Thanks, Vimeo.
Accident, MD is a thoughtful look at America’s healthcare crisis, through the eyes of a town directly affected by it. From a double bypass recipient, to an Amish community who pools their earnings for hospital costs, this short film from Dan Rybicky taps into the small town of Accident, and how lawmakers’ decisions drastically alter their lives. The film doesn’t take sides within the political debate (though the moment from 6:18 – 6:32 seems too ridiculous to be true), but simply observes the infuriating failings of the American government from the sidelines.
Girl in the Hallway
7-year-old Xiana Fairchild disappeared from Vallejo, California in 1999. This short film from Valerie Barnhart tells the story of a neighbour’s guilt, and the girl in the hallway that was forgotten by everyone until she became front-page news. A moving story told through stop motion animation and narration you should watch right away.
The Last Honey Hunter
In the steep mountain jungles of Nepal’s Hongu river valley, members of the isolated Kulung culture have risked their lives for generations scaling dangerous cliffs to collect a wild and toxic honey that’s in high demand in Kathmandu. A masterfully shot cinematic short, with an incredible insight into a little known community.
One Breath Around the World
I’m finding it hard to breathe, and it’s not just the thick bushfire smoke blanketing most of Australia right now. French free diving champion Guillaume Néry and his wife, free diver and filmer Julie Gautier, explore the underwater worlds of sleeping sperm whales and submerged ruins sans breathing equipment and the whole thing is incredible. Let your claustrophobia peak from 03:57 onwards.
How to Make a Rainbow
Shot over the course of two years, director Maxey Fish’s How to Make a Rainbow is the story of a young girl and her mother Jade, who is transitioning. How they navigate the shifts in identity is beautifully depicted in this observational short, and a solid reminder that kids can teach us a thing or two about life, too.
If you were hoping to come out the end of this with the definitive answer to the meaning of life, you’re going to be disappointed. What you won’t be disappointed with, though, is Dr Herbert Fingarette’s poignant reflections on death and existence at the age of 97. The philosopher has tackled many of life’s big questions during his long life—alcoholism, self-deception, responsibility—but as he faces the final years of his life, he discovers that much of his thinking about meaning and mortality might be wrong.
The hours, effort and skill that went into making this film is staggering, and you’ll see exactly what I mean when you hit play (and then go watch the ‘making of’ video here). Mixing animation styles and live-action footage, Brazilian director Nara Normande takes us back to the idyllic beach in Brazil where she grew up: Guaxuma. A story of nostalgia and loss, Guaxuma pulls inspiration from the work of Agnes Varda and Polish animator Aleksandra Korejwo, yet it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
We the Bathers
We the Bathers follows the stories of 14 disparate lives across the world, tied together by their unique connection to water. Whether it’s a sex worker in Sicily or a Buddhist monk in Japan, water and the ritual of bathing is the invisible link between the complete strangers, and it’s a beautifully made film you should dedicate 17 short minutes to.
This heart-wrenching documentary goes inside the only helpline in the UK for gay farmers. Keith Ineson, the helpline’s founder, said, ‘What I’m finding when gay farmers ring up, is that they think they are the only gay farmer in the world.’ Through a series of recorded telephone conversations and reconstructive visuals, the film uses the helpline as a lens through which to view the struggles that many LGBTQ people in the British farming community face.
For more info or to connect with the helpline, head here.
Segregated by Design
Making American law and policy not only digestible, but engaging is no mean feat, but that’s exactly what short film Segregated by Design manages to do. The ways in which the American government denied African Americans the opportunity to buy property in white housing markets is both unfathomable and unconstitutional, and regardless of where you live in the world, this film is a must-watch.