February 6, 2017

Vimeo’s February Streaming Slate, Including HitWeb-Series “555,” Starring Kate Berlant + John Early, and Black History Month Program


Vimeo’s February streaming slate promises to be its most talked-about yet, featuring the hit web series “555,” from comedy wunderkinds Kate Berlant and John Early, a Black History Month program, and a brand-new roster of Staff Pick Premieres.

“555,” starring John Early and Kate Berlant and directed by Andrew DeYoung is now available on Vimeo; it is an anthology miniseries of five short films that unfold in a stark, humid, surreality of Hollywood. These short, cinematic fairy tales are set in tinsel town, where status is everything and the stakes are high. The backdrop is big dreams, and in the foreground, the humiliations of clawing one’s way toward them. Each episode focuses on a fraught relationship between two characters, where ambition prevails over empathy.

“555” is heralded by critics, with The Los Angeles Times praising Berlant and Early, “they go big, they go small, they go broad, they stay subtle.”

In addition, Vimeo launched the Black History Month channel, a collection of phenomenal videos created by or starring black artists from the Vimeo community. Filled with an array of genres and cutting-edge videos, the Black History Month channel celebrates and elevates black filmmakers — and lets the Vimeo community easily follow the channel for updates, connect with incredible voices, and discover gorgeous new videos, all from one place.

These titles include:

“Slum Flower” from Street Etiquette

This short is dripping with style, and it was shot right around the corner from Vimeo HQ.

“The Perilous Fight” by Nedra McClyde

Quiet and affecting. Nedra McClyde explores the fear a father experiences the first time his young black son leaves home to set out on his own.

“Heroes of Color” by David Heredia

This video tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters: the little-known, all-Black infantry unit that served our country in both World War I and World War II. It’s entertaining, and a fantastic example of how art can be used to engage and inform. The video is also part of the excellent Heroes of Color series created by David Heredia of Heredia Designs.

“Swimming in Your Skin Again” by Terence Nance

Terence Nance’s directorial debut, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, premiered at Sundance in 2012 — and “Swimming in Your Skin Again” drives home his talents. This short combines an array of audio and visual elements, all working together to create a unique landscape of magical realism. Paired up with another contemporary experimental black artist, Norvis Jr., Nance brings the audience into the heart of the black experience — all set in the dense and humid backdrop of South Florida.

“Cakes Da Killa: No Homo” by Ja’Tovia Gary

This is a mini-doc about an artist who’s doing his thing and inviting us all to enjoy it.

“A New Great Migration: the Disappearance of the Black Middle Class” by Mahlia Posey 

It’s all pretty much in the title.

“Yellow Fever” by Ng’endo Mukii

The intimate narrative, powerful interviews, and gripping use of mixed-media makes “Yellow Fever” one of my favorite Vimeo videos. The short, from Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii, delves into how globalization impacts standards of beauty for black women. And it does everything a good short film should do: draws out your emotions, invites you into another perspective, and encourages you to continue learning — vigorously.

“Niggers-Are-Scared-Of-Revolution-(The-Last-Poets)” by V.I.S.I.O.N.A.R.Y. 88

This poem by The Last Poets continues to be an alarm for Black America today, specifically black men. As we saw earlier this month regarding the Women’s March that took place across the globe, black women are summoning the courage yet again to fight for freedoms of humanity. It is important that we remain courageous for the revolution during this latest period of reconstruction, and stand in solidarity with the women leading the fight.

February also brings a new slate of Vimeo Staff Pick Premieres, global online premieres of pre-selected Staff Picks with a different one debuting each Wednesday; Vimeo’s popular Staff Pick channel is curated by a four-person team that highlights the best short-form content on the platform.

February 1st: “A Grand Canal” - Narrative Drama  (Dir. Johnny Ma)


Synopsis: “A Grand Canal” is a film that feels like a timepiece only recently remembered. Filled with grit and grain from its 16mm format, it recalls the life of a late father through the narration of his son. The film explores family, honor, and ultimately, the power we all hold over memories through the craft of filmmaking.

About the Filmmaker: Born as Ma Nan in Shanghai, China, Johnny first immigrated to Toronto at the age of ten. After graduating from the film program at Columbia University with thesis film “Grand Canal,” Johnny became a fellow at the Sundance Institute Screenwriting and Directing Lab in 2014. Johnny’s directorial feature debut was “Old Stone” that world premiered at the 2016 Berlinale Film Festival. It was awarded the Best Canadian First Feature Award at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards including Best Film.

February 8th: “The Bigger Picture” - Animation (Dir. Daisy Jacobs)

Synopsis: The Bigger Picture is an animated short about two brothers struggling to care for their elderly mother. Jovial, loving Richard flees as soon as anything practical needs to be done; dutiful Nick does everything he can for his mother while seething with resentment; and mother is not going to make it easy for either of them. With wit and warmth, we see the brothers endeavor to deal with a situation that one day faces all of us – what shall we do with our parents?

About the Filmmaker: Daisy Jacobs is a London-based, British Director. Educated in the UK and Germany, Daisy spent five years at Central St Martin's School of Art in London, followed by an MA in Directing Animation at the National Film and Television School. She has just finished a new life-size animated film: “The Full Story.”

February 15th: “Say Something Intelligent” - Documentary (Dir. Lewis Bennett)

Synopsis: Lewis Bennett decided to finally edit together the "documentary" that his dad started making in the early 90s.

About the Filmmakers: Lewis Bennett is a filmmaker based in Vancouver. His comedic documentaries have screened at film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and Slamdance. His feature-length documentary debut, The Sandwich Nazi, had its World Premiere at SXSW where it was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

February 22nd: “Ruben Leaves” - Animation (Dir. Frederic Siegel)

Synopsis: On his way to work, Ruben is haunted by obsessive-compulsive thoughts; is the front door locked? Is the stove really turned off? As Ruben’s creative mind is invaded by increasingly absurd scenarios, reality and imagination begin to merge…

About the Filmmaker: Frederic Siegel a Director, 2D Animator, Motion Designer & Illustrator, currently working in Zurich, Switzerland. He graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Film with specialization in 2D Animation at the Lucerne School of Art & Design. “Ruben Leaves” is his graduation film.

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