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Spotlight: Motion Highlights of August

By David Schonauer   Wednesday September 13, 2017


August brought shocking news, and a shocking documentary.

After a violent rally of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville that left one counter-protester dead, HBO’s Vice News aired a 22-minute documentary providing a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at the event and a chilling interview with white a supremacist leader. We featured the film, which became an online sensation and a staple of cable news coverage of rally: It received nearly 7 million views in 17 hours on Facebook alone. Praise came from across the web: Mother Jones called it a “must-watch” video, while Entertainment Weekly called it “eye-popping.” Business Insider said the video explains why so many people are furious with Trump. The Boston Globe called it “horrifying.”  

The documentary was one of the films we spotlighted in August — a month that also brought the U.S. a total solar eclipse. We took note of a memorable 360-degree video by photographer-filmmaker Stephen Wilkes, who captured the moon’s shadow sweeping across Wyoming’s Teton mountain range. Among the other standout videos we spotlighted in August was photojournalist-filmmaker Ken Kobre’s celebration of rosé wine and several motion pieces capturing nature at its fiercest and most beautiful.


1. With Charlottesville Video, Vice News Scores a Chilling Coup

On Monday, August 14, just days after a violent rally of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville that left one counter-protester dead, HBO’s Vice News aired a 22-minute documentary providing a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at the event and a chilling interview with a white supremacist leader. It was a journalistic coup: As we noted, the video received nearly 7 million views in 17 hours on Facebook alone and went viral on YouTube. Footage from the video featuring torch-carrying white supremacists chanting phrases like “Jews will not replace us!” formed a backdrop for cable news coverage of President Donald Trump’s controversial comments casting blame for the violence on “many sides.”

2. How Rosé Became Chic

You no longer have to be embarrassed to order a glass of rosé wine. Once considered little more than an alcoholic version of soda pop, rosé has become widely popular — in France, more rosé is sold than white wine — and is now earning plaudits from connoisseurs. The story of the wine's rise to glory is told in a one-hour documentary, La Revolution du Rosé, from San Francisco-based video-journalist Ken Kobre, who shot it entirely with an iPhone. We featured the trailer and Kobré's behind-the-scenes story about making the film.


3. See a 360 Video Shot by Stephen Wilkes

It’s probably only appropriate that photographer and filmmaker Stephen Wilkes — known for his “Day to Night” photo series (see our Profile) — ended up making a 360-degree video of the solar eclipse on August 21. Wilkes told Time LightBox  that he’s been using a 360-degree camera for the past year. He also brought a compact self-stitching camera to shoot the video, which shows the moon’s shadow sweeping across Wyoming’s Teton mountain range.


4. Mind-Blowing Star Trails Over Oregon

Were you blown away by the solar eclipse? There was more heavenly awesomeness on view in time-lapse photographer Tyler Hulett's Oregon Trails, a four-minute film capturing star trails over the landscapes of Oregon. Each frame in the video is a separate star trail photograph that has been stacked with others to create motion in the stars, noted PetaPixel. A few of the clips were shot with motion control panning, resulting in mesmerizing patterns.


5. Mike Olbinski's 28,000-Mile Storm "Pursuit"

“On June 12th, I broke down into tears,” writes renowned time-lapser Mike Oblinski in the notes to his latest video, Pursuit 4K. This past spring was a tough one, with beautiful tornadoes hard to come by, he says. But he persevered, driving 28,000 miles through 10 states and shooting 90,000 images to create a masterpiece of storm-chasing art. “And that's why this film is called Pursuit. Because you can't give up. Keep chasing, keep pursuing,” Oblinski writes.


6. Photographing Polar Bears at 40 Below

Director Abraham Joffe and cinematographer Dom West of United Film Works  suffered lost cameras and frostbite while shooting their short Ghosts of the Arctic, which focuses on photographer Joshua Holko’s efforts to capture a glimpse of polar bears in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. “In spite of the conditions, it was one of the most rewarding shoots we have all been involved in," says Joffe at NoFilmSchool, which detailed how the beautiful film was made.


7. Michel Gondry's Detour, Shot with an iPhone 

Apple hired French filmmaker Michel Gondry to shoot a film with an iPhone, and the result was Detour, an 11-minute short following a family as they go on a rambling vacation. The film, said Short of the Week, “showcases the director’s charming signature style.” Meanwhile, NoFilmSchool  featured a BTS clip with Gondry talking about shooting nighttime “in the most honest way."


8. An Artist Explains the Complexity of Scale

In 2015 artist Megan Harrison and her partner embarked on an expedition across the United States with the goal of creating work that referenced the history of exploration. In Megan Harrison: Complexity of Scale, a short documentary from filmmaking team Mark and Angela Walley, the artist explains how the journey inspired her to look for ways to interpret the size and scope of the western U.S., from the perspective of the 21st century.


9. Blind and Afraid of Water, She Dove In

“My first time in the pool, I was 49 years old. My coach was in the water, telling me, ‘Jump in Vivian,’” recalls Vivian Stancil. She did. Stancil had always heard that blind people can’t swim. Now she has more than 200 medals from senior swimming competitions. She is the subject of the inspiring short documentary Why Not Now, from Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker Riley Hooper, a former content and community manager at Vimeo.


10. The "Homeless Angels" of MacArthur Park

Los Angeles’s MacArthur Park has a notorious reputation, having become associated with drugs, violence, and its diverse homeless population — undocumented immigrants, abandoned veterans, transgender people and those who have lost jobs, can’t afford healthcare, and battle mental illness. Filmmaker Anatoli Ulyanov spent three months in the park to create his documentary Homeless Angels, which captures the contrast between the American Dream and real-world tragedy.

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