Best of Staff Picks: February 2017

February may be the month with the shortest stay on our calendars, but — holy cow — it came in like a lion and out like a wildebeest for us at Vimeo HQ. As the days passed, we seemed to find and Staff Pick more videos that were *fire as hell*, and we’re very excited to share the flaming hot gems we picked up along the way. Be prepared to follow the disastrously epic downfall of a circus show, get empowered by the fierceness of New York’s badass natives via the soundtrack of Alicia Keys, and watch an arrogant astronaut named Dave be replaced by a fashion designer who is also a melon (?!).

Yeah, that’s what we’ve been talkin’ bout for the past 28 days. Hope you enjoy!

Analogue Loaders” from Raphael Vangelis

Beachball of Doom. The Colorwheel of Despair. The Spinning Pizza of Death. These are all loving nicknames we have given to the macOS icon that means we will be waiting for something to load on our smart devices for an undetermined amount of time. Stop-motion animator Raphael Vangelis made this universally annoying experience into grade A eye candy, recreating the symbols that drive us nuts by hand and giving them a new life. Featured on Gizmodo, Wired, and The New York Times since debuting on Vimeo, we’re big fans of “Analogue Loaders.”

Black Holes” from NOODLES

“Black Holes” is the story of a man named Dave who takes himself seriously as an explorer of space. His charismatic, brilliant partner also happens to be a melon (and a fashion designer). We saw this short at Sundance 2017 and rushed to its team of creators to tell ’em how much we dug it after the screening. If you want to see more of this story as much as we do, consider chipping in to their Kickstarter to fund more episodes of this absurdly awesome animated series.

“Alicia Keys — The Gospel” by A.V. Rockwell

After peeping episodes of “Open City Mixtape,” A.V. Rockwell’s doc-like narrative series about New York City’s children, Alicia Keys was determined to work with her on a project combining music and film. What came of the resulting collaboration was a 21-minute-long love letter to their native city, all told in A.V.’s signature black-and-white aesthetic. Though you can take away the color of NYC, you can’t take away the fierce strength and character of its citizens.It’s a story beautifully told alongside tracks from Alicia’s newest album, “Here.” If you’re a fan of “The Gospel,” do not miss out on our celebration of A.V.’s work on the Vimeo blog.

House of Dan” from Scott Barber

The description on “House of Dan’s” video page says it all: “Dan’s backyard is the childhood dream.” It’s a quick and dirty short, but one we’d sure like to live ourselves — snowboarder Danny Davis shreds his way through the side hits, jumps, and berms of his snowy property in Truckee, California.

Con Amor” from Cole Webley

After this year’s Super Bowl, Cole Webley’s Lumber 84 commercial was on the tip of many tongues for its touching portrayal of a mother and daughter’s journey to cross the Mexican/American border. In a similarly heart-wrenching fashion, Webley’s “Con Amor” follows a young mother who must make a tough decision for the well-being of her family. Beautifully filmed and performed, this short is a gripping thriller and narrative wrapped in one.

No Other Way to Say It” from One At Optimus / Tim Mason

Voiceover actors have a difficult job. Clients ask, “Can you sound younger? Like you’re telling your best friend a secret, but with a smile in your tone? As if you’ve never eaten ice cream before?!” What begins as a frustrating back and forth between a voice artist and her client turns into something much more out of nowhere. Tim Mason wrote and directed this hilarious short about the dangers of indirect communication.

Quadrangle” from Amy Grappell

The Royal Tenenbaums’ tagline “Family isn’t a word, it’s a sentence” could also perfectly sum up Amy Grappell’s documentary about her parents and their very unconventional marriage. Deanna, Paul, Robert, and Eleanor are in a functional foursome of friendship … until they aren’t friendly and their bond begins to unravel. A captivating, intimate peek into a relationship born from the “free” lifestyle of the ’60s and ’70s, “Quadrangle” tells a story that feels like a dramatic sitcom IRL.

Leningrad — Kolshik” by FancyShot / Ilya Naishuller

There are a couple of things that get us going at the Vimeo office: free pizza, free cookies, cute dogs, and worms in a can. But once in awhile a very special video lands on our screens that makes all of us say “HOLY SH%# HAVE YOU SEEN THIS!?” Recently, that video was Ilya Naishuller’s music video for Leningrad’s “Kolshik.” We watched it backwards, as it was intended to be watched (then downloaded it and watched it frontwards!). One tiny mistake quickly culminates into the epic demise of hundreds of horrified people. The creativity of this video is mind boggling, and we’re still fanning the smoke coming out of our ears after several viewings.

Δlpine Adventure” from Joshua Cowan

There’s at least a little bit of wanderlust in all of us, and Joshua Cowan’s breathtaking footage of Europe in winter is a surefire way to turn yours up to 11. Featuring aerial shots of majestic castles, pine-covered mountains, and giant, frozen lakes in steely blue and white, “△lpine Adventure” is a frosty treat for your eyeballs.

“The Bigger Picture” from Daisy Jacobs

We were proud to debut BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated animation “The Bigger Picture” online as a Staff Pick Premiere earlier this month. The handmade, 6-foot-tall paintings were a true labor of stop-motion love for filmmaker Daisy Jacobs. But the fact that she was also able to tell the personal story of two opposite brothers trying to care for their dying mother in this style is what makes this short extraordinary. Featuring a soundtrack by Super Furry Animals, “The Bigger Picture” is a truly unique work of art. Read our Q&A with Daisy for its Staff Pick Premiere here.

See all of our favorites from months past over on our Best of the Month channel.

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