Given CDC travel recommendations and spiking COVID numbers, Thanksgiving will be experienced much differently this year for many people. But while the festivities may be tempered, it’s still a holiday and a good opportunity to take some time for yourself. To distract you from work and worry, here are some recent films and series—all created by or featuring notable contributions from SVA alumni and faculty—that you can gobble up after you’ve finished your Thanksgiving feast.
In this Emmy-nominated limited series based on a true story, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman escapes her arranged marriage in Brooklyn for a new life in Berlin. Produced by Alexa Karolinski (MFA 2011 Social Documentary Film), who also served as a writer and plays the role of the main character’s cousin, Chava. Watch on Netflix.
When you’ve finished bingeing the series, watch SVA Theatre’s interview with Karolinski from this year’s After School Special on YouTube.
Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father. The film features animation and visual effects work by BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni Daniela Dwek, Christina Faraj, Jessica Monteiro, Anthony Muscarella and Jenna Spurlock. Watch on Disney+.
Hayley Hogan (BFA 2014 Photography) produced and Jorge Arzac (BFA 2012 Film and Video) was the cinematographer for this comedy-drama short, about an unemployed and adrift young New Yorker. Watch on Amazon Prime.
Note: The Cashed team reunited for another short, High Score, a drama about the indoctrination of a white supremacist, which will be available online soon. Read a recent interview with the team here.
Welcome to Chechnya
In this award-winning documentary, activists in Chechnya, a republic of Russia, risk their lives to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the 2010s. One of the film’s editors was Victor Ilyukhin (MFA 2014 Social Documentary Film). Watch on HBO Max, and afterward, watch SVA Theatre’s Q&A with Ilyukhin from this year’s After School Special on YouTube.
The Umbrella Academy: Season 2
Netflix adapted the comic-book saga created by Gerard Way (BFA 1999 Cartooning) into a heartwarming live-action series about a motley family of superheroes. We’ve suggested it before and we’ll recommend it again, especially since a second season came out this year and a third season has been ordered. Watch on Netflix.
Director David Osit (MFA 2011 Social Documentary Film) directed this documentary about Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, as he navigates both the unique and quotidian challenges of his office. Osit's fellow alumni Hanna Nordenswan (2018) and Xin Fang (2019) did translation editing on the film. You’ll have to wait just a few days to see this one—it premieres Wednesday, December 2, online at Film Forum.
Angela De Vito (BFA 2014 Animation) was the animation director for this Comedy Central digital cartoon about a manatee—voiced by series creator and comedian Bobby Moynihan—who is also “the number-one weed dealer in New York City.” Watch it on Comedy Central’s website.
The Plot Against America
This alternate history drama mini-series is told from the perspective of a 1940s working-class Jewish family, as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator-hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism. Watch on HBO Max.
After you finish the series, you can watch SVA Theatre’s interview with the show’s Emmy-nominated director of photography, Martin Ahlgren (BFA 2000 Film and Video), and one of its visual effects supervisors, Vicky Penzes (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) on YouTube.
Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, this recent dark fantasy comedy follows a grandma and grandson who encounter a band of devilish witches and flaunts a star-studded cast including Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock. Douglas Bloom (BFA 2001 Computer Art) worked on the film's visual effects. Watch on HBO Max.
A version of this article will appear in the fall/winter 2020 edition of the Visual Arts Journal.