Heaven is a Traffic Jam On The 405, directed by Frank Stiefel, is really a metaphor for life. Following the story of Mindy Alper, a mid-fifties artist based in Los Angeles, this is the tale of someone who has battled acute mental conditions, depression, and anxiety. She uses her work as a continuous expression of her troubled journey -her canvasses are used as inserts throughout the film. The film explores how this artist has risen from one of the darkest corners of her life to continuously creating.
Interracial couple Edith and Eddie got married when they were in their 90s. Meeting over a lottery ticket, they are perhaps the oldest interracial couple in the United States. They do everything together, even as intimate as putting on their dentures every morning. But even at the ripe ages of 95, they are faced with the prospect of being torn apart by feuding family members. Will love triumph over greed? Directors Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wrights bring us Edith and Eddie.
Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon brings us a story from Huntington, West Virginia, which is unfortunately becoming a common story of small town America. Reeling under an opioid epidemic, all this town has left is the memories of its bustling industrial past. But even when burdened by high rates of addiction (well above the national average), the city is still looking to fight back and reclaim itself. Heroine is a stark reminder of how our communities are being pushed to the brink.
Setting up a French restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, should not be for the fainthearted. And if the bulk of the employees are men and women recently released from prison, then the challenge comes with personal rehabilitation. Knife Skills by Thomas Lennon is a fascinating look at the lives of some of the people who take on the onerous challenge of becoming part of something bigger than themselves. The culinary arts become a tool for these people to find their own voices and expressions and, of course, some healing.
Kate Davis and David Heilbroner bring us an affecting documentary called Traffic Stop, which tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas, who was stopped for a routine traffic infraction. King was pulled from her car, repeatedly assaulted, and finally handcuffed. Beautifully juxtaposing King’s life to her journey in a police vehicle, engaged in conversation with the police officer about race in America, Traffic Stop mirrors so many horrendous stories that have been told and ones that remain untold about one of the greatest problems that strike at the core of what America claims to stand for.
The Oscar-nominated short film program is part of the pre-Oscar run at Cinema du Parc, which is now playing.