a Documentary by Anna Anderson
Stereotypes is a captivating documentary about the necessity of communication across boundaries of age, nationality and gender.
It is simultaneously intimate and expansive: at its centre is a loving couple, the Swedish-born Anna Anderson and the American-born Jordan Battiste, who decide to document their trip from New Jersey back to her homeland for a wedding, and, in the process, ruminate on cultural heritage and geo-cultural relations. Insightful interviews with members of the public from both nations reveal great insights about the position that both the U.S. and Sweden hold in the popular imagination. The wide ranging topics of interest include celebrity, superstition, gun regulation, technology, economics, language and architecture.
Although the film is infused with gentle humour in regards to the way one nation stereotypes the other, its primary motivation is a desire to locate the commonalities between these two countries and to promote empathy, warmth and tolerance. Much of the film is devoted to lyrical observations of Swedish cultural rituals, breaking down previously established stereotypes of the land and enabling the viewer to build a greater understanding of the land, its history, its folklore and its customs.
With its travelogue structure, mesmerizing black-and-white photography, and keen attention to the potentialities of on-the-street interviews, Stereotypes recalls the early documentaries of Pasolini; its contrapuntal editing puts perspectives, landscapes, and voices from the two countries together in dialectical exchange for the purpose of conflict and comparison: the rich monarchical history of Sweden versus the comparatively new settlement of the United States; the United States’ overwhelming dominance over contemporary cinema versus the more localized culture industry of Sweden; the dense folkoric mythology that defines Swedish childhood versus America’s emphasis on figures from popular television and advertising.
Stereotypes avoids making easy value judgements on any of its subjects, it is instead an immersion in the various ideologies, artistic products, traditions and attitudes which define a nation. Eschewing simple didacticism in favour of open-ended enquiry, Stereotypes weaves a dense and multifaceted tapestry of impressions, masterfully intertwining the personal, the historical, the aesthetic, and the political.
a Documentary Series by Anna Anderson
One In Three, a 3-part miniseries, is an empathetic, quietly powerful study of the lived experience of cancer patients.
Filmed in a languorous, observational style reminiscent of Frederick Wiseman and Albert Sayles, One In Three follows a diverse selection of cancer patients as they detail their varied healing processes, with a strong focus on their exercise routines, dietary choices and holistic medicine treatments. Although the series is rooted in robust scientific research, it also foregrounds the vibrant, resilient and affable personalities of its subjects.
A work of extraordinary humanism, One in Three takes us into the private lives of these remarkable people, watching as they heroically traverse the struggles of everyday life. Anderson’s camera pores over minutiae, deftly taking in the stray details of location, body language and speech patterns to create a series of interlocked portraits that feel remarkably intimate and lived in. Throughout, we are privy to consultation sessions regarding the effectiveness of current treatment plans, and psychological evaluations. Anderson does not cut any of these situations short; she allows them to unfold at length, lending each one an immersive sense of real-time naturalism.
Amid these grace notes, the bigger issue that arises is the role of holistic medicine in the process of treating illness. As each patient gives a detailed testimony of their personal experience in overcoming their disease, various accounts emerge of specific, individual treatment plans and the ways in which they have benefited them. What emerges is a passionate plea for compassionate, understanding healthcare practices, practices which are carefully and specifically developed to fit the needs and preferences of the patient.
Anderson’s aesthetic style is an expression of this form of empathetic communicative negotiation.
Anderson’s extensive use of long takes and medium close-ups place emphasis on the humanity of her subjects, giving them the freedom and flexibility to express themselves in their own way. Rather than imposing distracting artificial gimmicks, Anderson follows in the line of the great Direct Cinema movement in allowing her subjects to dictate form, rather than vice-versa. Over the course of One In Three’s languorous 405 minutes, Anderson carefully constructs a tapestry of individuals who are each learning to live with their ailments; each effort is treated with quiet dignity and remarkable tenderness. Epic and intimate in equal measure, One in Three expresses a phenomenal depth of feeling, and establishes Anderson as a major new talent in the landscape of American filmmaking.
I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. I received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program. During my training, I studied over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. My teachers included Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center; Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University; and many other leading researchers and nutrition authorities.
a Documentary Short by Anna Anderson
A triumph of concise and economic storytelling, Anna Anderson's documentary short; a sOLID 45 sECONDS documents a few days in the life of New York-based comic Taylor Callahan as she performs in clubs, prepares to move apartment and deconstructs her sets in extensive detail.
Anderson's style is precise yet unobtrusive: Callahan's personal life is captured with an agile, freewheeling handheld camera, always alert to revealing details and salient pieces of visual information; in contrast, her sets are recorded with fixed, static wide shots, the camera placed within the space of the crowd. There is therefore a clear distinction between Callahan the performer and the individual who lies behind the punchlines. Anderson alternates between showing the polished final versions of Callahan's bits and exploring the personal experiences, thought processes and strategies of fine-tuning which gradually shape them.
The breeziness and lightness of touch which Anderson brings to a sOLID 45 sECONDS may make it appear sleight at first glance, but lying beneath its surface pleasures are a number of weighty and complex thematic issues endemic not just to the New York comedy scene, but to modern urban life as a whole: The financial pressures placed on young artists, the difficulty of sustaining a career as a comedienne within a male-dominated industry, and the difficulty of addressing racial and gender tensions through humor. Callahan is candid about dealing with regressive expectations regarding the subject matter that female comics are ‘expected’ to discuss, and having to confront hostile male audience members.
In Callahan, Anderson has found a vibrant, magnetic subject: playful, open, articulate, self-deprecating, unflinchingly honest. Even mundane tasks and errands – depositing money at a bank, cleaning the apartment, calling a computer help line – are approached with a zealousness, a lust for life, and a quick wit. a sOLID 45 sECONDS is a ferociously entertaining portrait of a mind that runs at a million miles a minute, constantly taking stock of social interactions, behavioral mores and everyday absurdities to transform into comedic material. In capturing this creative energy as it encounters and feeds off of the city and its inhabitants, Anderson leaps into the fervor of the artistic psyche.
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