Unequal States — July 2020 Labocine Issue

Stories of the continued struggle against oppression through movements, resistance, and solidarity are often documented and presented in many forms as acts of resistance themselves. In these stories, the notion of “inequality” draws together different worlds, cultures, and dimensions/scales (micro/macro). From animations to documentaries, these films shed light on the pervasiveness of this inequality on all fronts by exploring social, scientific, and political perspectives in our fight against racism, injustice, and inequality.

Nation Estate

Courtesy of mec film

Nation Estate is a 9-minute sci-fi short offering a clinically dystopian, yet humorous approach to the deadlock in the Middle East.

With a mixture of computer-generated imagery, live actors and arabesque electronica, Nation Estate explores a vertical solution to Palestinian statehood. In Sansour’s film, Palestinians have their state in the form of a single skyscraper: the Nation Estate. One colossal high-rise houses the entire Palestinian population — now finally living the high life.

Each city has its own floor: Jerusalem on the third floor, Ramallah on the fourth floor, Sansour’s native Bethlehem on the fifth and so on. Intercity trips previously marred by checkpoints are now made by elevator. Aiming for a sense of belonging, the lobby of each floor reenacts iconic squares and landmarks.

The story follows the female lead, played by Sansour herself, in a futuristic folklore suit returning home from a trip abroad and making her way through the lobby of the monstrous building — sponsored and sanctioned by the international community. Having passed the security checks, she takes the elevator to the Bethlehem floor and crosses Manger Square and Church of the Nativity on her way to her apartment where she prepares a plate of sci-fi tabouleh.

No Exit

Like many people of his generation, Ali has decided to run away from the hardships of war, but finds himself caught at a bus-stop between worlds.


The Mayas predicted the unavoidable-global warming. The future of the world depends on the people returning to the basics and uniting for survival. A divine cycle of death and rebirth.

The Wind

What does it mean to be abandoned by everything? Abandoned by your people, your country? Abandoning your home, your street, your city, your country? Abandoned by the world?


Youri is twenty years old. He lives with his mother in Ivry, the city where he grew up. But his apartment complex is to be demolished and the scene of his childhood dreams will disappear. How will he lift off without a spaceship?

La Que Sueña (She Who Dreams)

A young Mexican biologist living in New York discusses the reasons for her transformation into a Monarch butterfly.


An immigrant in New York tries to become a Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) bird, so that she can travel back to the Caribbean for her child’s birthday party.

Orfeo Nel Canale Alimentare

Orfeo Nel Canale Alimentare (Orpheus in the Alimentary Canal) is an animated opera about the digestive tract. In the film, Orpheus attempts to rescue Eurydice from a bout of indigestion by crossing the river of her inner-under world. But in the alimentary canal there are no heroes, only the multitudes.

The river which runs through us, the alimentary canal, is suggestive as a boundary object between the self and other, the internal and the external, the human and the nonhuman environment. The film explores the dissolution of individuality through the realization that our bodies are teeming with nonhuman life. Musically and narratively, in this ecological opera, individual heroes are superseded by the chorus, who represent a symbiotic view of life.

In Italian with English subtitles.


Using animation, heat sensitive camera footage from US border patrol screens, military bombing drone monitors, and other collected footage, Maelstroms is a mediation on the dehumanizing use of image technology to control borders by land, air and sea.

The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun

The second film of Anton Vidokle’s trilogy on Russian cosmism looks at the poetic dimension of solar cosmology of Soviet biophysicist, Alexander Chizhevsky. Shot in Kazakhstan, where Chizhevsky was imprisoned and later exiled, the film introduces Сhizhevsky’s research into the impact of solar emissions on human sociology, psychology, politics and economics in the form of wars, revolutions, epidemics and other upheavals. The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun aligns the life of post-soviet rural residents and the futurological projects of Russian cosmism to emphasize that the goal of the early Soviet breakthroughs aimed at the conquest of outer space was not so much technical acceleration, but the common cause of humankind in their struggle against limitations of earthly life.

Struggle for Existence

In 2025, five rare Palila finches survive in the wild and a woman journeys to Hawaii, the Extinction Capital of the World, to see the last few birds. Through animation and live-action footage, the film explores how a species is preserved by man as it nears extinction by looking at past and present efforts to save Hawaiian birds. Struggle for Existence contemplates Darwin’s theory of natural selection, inevitability of death, and our human instinct to “save nature.” Do we value the animals with whom we share this planet, or is the destruction of a species the natural course of life?

Production Credits: Directed, Animated, Written and Edited by Laurie Sumiye.

Music Hans Fahling

Sound Mixer Ted Marcus

Color Colin Travers

Animation Advisor Douglas Filiak

Technical Advisor Eric Freidenberg

Story Advisor Geeta Patel

Camera David Corrigan Tim OʻBryan Laurie Sumiye

Photo Credit Jack Jeffrey Miki Noguchi Peter Somol Jason Sumiye

Cast (in order of appearance)

Charles Darwin — Kim Pimmel

Henry Wetherbee — Henshaw Benjamin Moss

Donald Dickey — Dylan Gaultier

Cindy Spiva-Evans — Kuʻulei Miura Fahling

Woman — Laurie Sumiye

Anthropology of the Future

A take on our future told through the voice of hybrid creatures.

Lost in Words

Independent animation visualising the experience of language confusion and misunderstanding while people living in their second language

10–3 = 13

Set between a children’s play town that playfully delivers sincere propositions for a collective logic of political imagination. Drawing from anti-bias curricula alongside radical positions on colonial and historical debts, 10–3 = 13 offers a lesson on the ‘misinvention’ of negative numbers.

Hacking Gebran Bassil’s Xenophobia

This film uses found/archival footage to “hack” the xenophobic rhetoric of the (now former) Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. By weaving together snippets of interviews, news reports, and other related media that feature Bassil’s xenophobia against Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with material that shows the frailty of his arguments, the inhumanity of his stance, and the illegality of his policies, this film unweaves Bassil’s xenophobic narrative vis-à-vis Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Under Construction

Due to Shanghai’s regeneration scheme, old buildings are being demolished, and consequently almost 100 000 families are being forced to move each year. “Under Construction” explores the human implications of the Shanghai Planning Office and its Property Developers operations. Photographs are composed and animated with documentary shots; the film proposes a voyage through the destruction of a district of the city….

Burkinabè Rising: the art of resistance in Burkina Faso

A small landlocked country in West Africa, Burkina Faso is home to a vibrant community of artists, musicians, engaged citizens who carry on the revolutionary spirit of Thomas Sankara, killed in a coup d’état led by his best friend and advisor Blaise Compaoré, who then ruled the country as an autocrat for 27 years, til a massive popular insurrection led to his removal. Today, the spirit of resistance and political change is mightier than ever and it permeates every aspect of the Burkinabe life. It is an inspiration, not only to Africa, but to the rest of the world.

The Bleaching Syndrome

After a failed attempt to make a documentary about a Sudanese woman who bleaches her skin, filmmaker Eiman Mirghani turns the camera around to discover her own relationship with her skin color and how it has affected her life as a young, Afro-Arab woman living in the Middle East.


Philomène, une adolescente d’origine africaine, aime Bastien. Mais avec sa tignasse crépue, elle ne pense pas détenir les armes de séduction pour concurrencer les filles aux cheveux vaporeux. Philomène décide alors de se faire un tissage, changement capillaire qu’elle vit comme une métamorphose.

Et toujours nous marcherons

They are those whose margin is territory, those who go without being seen. They are illegal and speak thousand languages. To find those he’s looking for, Simon arrives to Paris and follows in their footsteps. Discovering the depth of the invisible city, he accesses despite himself to the classical new migrant’s pathway.


Chronique d’une jeune garagiste.

Binge Watching

In a dystopian near-future London, a privileged white woman browses a futuristic VR streaming platform and comes across a VR film where she will experience a tense encounter with a pair of policemen…through the eyes of a black man.

Documentary about the Caste System

This is a documentary interviewing a series of people from primarily the Indian subcontinent on their experiences regarding the caste system. The caste system is a class structure determined by birth and all of the interviewees are liberal upper caste folk who have seen caste discrimination first hand in their country of origin. The documentary is focused primarily on educating people about the caste system prevalent in the Indian subcontinent.


What does it feel like to be led away from your home by a soldier, while blindfolded? What happens when a military occupation looms over an entire childhood?

OBAIDA, a short film by Matthew Cassel, explores a Palestinian child’s experience of Israeli military detention. Each year, some 700 Palestinian children undergo military detention in a system where ill-treatment is widespread and institutionalized.

For these young detainees, few rights are guaranteed, even on paper. After release, the experience of detention continues to shape and mark former child prisoners’ path forward.

Wealth Inequality in America

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

A Week With Azar

A Week with Azar is a short experimental documentary film, based on a true story of Azar, an Iranian computer engineer living in the United States, who in the winter of 2017 failed to see her ill sister in Isfahan (Iran) for the last time because of the Executive Order 13769, commonly known as the travel ban. According to this ban, the nationals of seven countries, including Iran, could not enter the USA. The film’s fragmented narrative structure and aesthetic (juxtaposing 16mm film, digital video and still photo frames) is a reflection of the fragmented life of an immigrant.

Too Many Curves than Edges

In ‘Too many curves than edges’ ,Jenny and JoJoo struggle accepting their body in a society where an ideal body is nothing close to theirs and almost out of reach.
In an attempt to fit it, Jenny starves herself to fit in. JoJo develops a character to adapt

Too many curves than edges tells the tales of lives that started too late or ended too early because they were body shamed.

Ninja & Soldier

A child soldier and a child ninja are talking about a difference.

Tetescha Us

The animated film “Tetescha Us” proceeds from a double aporia: the fact that neutral representations of the Middle East conflict raise unrealistic expectations and the impossibility of presenting them as intact narratives. The starting point is a comic workshop which filmmaker Stefanie Wuschitz organized in the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Palestinian girls aged 11 to 13 draw their visions of a different reality in which fish and butterflies, mermen and mermaids can marry. The drawings reflect their experiences with social exclusion resulting from the strict ethnic and religious fragmentation in Lebanon. Wuschitz avoids stereotypical representations of refugees and camps by drawing a few lines on a white background to portray the protagonists and settings of her video footage, adding audio recordings and text inserts afterward. The resulting degree of abstraction excludes patterns of reception and playfully establishes new webs of symbolic meaning. For a few seconds tall buildings shoot from fine black lines in postwar Beirut, and party scenes are formed immediately thereafter. Political opponents fight their battles on television screens. Fleeting tableaus, sounds and isolated statements build in intensity and overlap. The voices of refugees from Beddawi fade away in this new Lebanon at an invisible sound barrier. Four hundred thousand have waited to return since Israel was founded in 1948.
An NGO employee says that girls are again being married off at extremely young ages these days. Do neo-patriarchal orders reflect fading hopes? At the film’s conclusion Wuschitz doesn’t let the images crumble; instead people rise above themselves. They climb onto buildings and cliffs and, similar to a fragment of dialogue — “Marry or jump?” — they have already decided.
(Gunnar Landsgesell)
Translation: Steve Wilder

Today They Took My Son

A mother coping with her young son being taken away by a military system. Her helplessness to prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment she knows he is experiencing is more than any mother can bear. This happens to more than 700 Palestinian children a year.

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