Watch “Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on The 405,” the New Oscar-Winning Portrait of an Artist

A quick fyi: IndieWire has made avail­able on its YouTube chan­nel “Heav­en Is a Traf­fic Jam on The 405,” a 40-minute doc­u­men­tary direct­ed by Frank Stiefel. A por­trait of a bril­liant 56 year old artist, the film won the Oscar for Best Doc­u­men­tary (Short Sub­ject) at the recent Acad­e­my Awards. Here’s the gist of what it’s about:

Mindy Alper is a tor­tured and bril­liant 56 year old artist who is rep­re­sent­ed by one of Los Ange­les’ top gal­leries. Acute anx­i­ety, men­tal dis­or­der and dev­as­tat­ing depres­sion have caused her to be com­mit­ted to men­tal insti­tu­tions under­go elec­tro shock ther­a­py and sur­vive a 10 year peri­od with­out the abil­i­ty to speak. Her hyper self aware­ness has allowed her to pro­duce a life­long body of work that express­es her emo­tion­al state with pow­er­ful psy­cho­log­i­cal pre­ci­sion. Through inter­views, reen­act­ments, the build­ing of an eight and a half foot papi­er-mache’ bust of her beloved psy­chi­a­trist, and exam­in­ing draw­ings made from the time she was a child, we learn how she has emerged from dark­ness and iso­la­tion to a life that includes love, trust and sup­port.

You can watch the com­plete film online. It will be added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stanford’s Robert Sapol­sky Demys­ti­fies Depres­sion, Which, Like Dia­betes, Is Root­ed in Biol­o­gy

Depres­sion & Melan­choly: Ani­mat­ed Videos Explain the Cru­cial Dif­fer­ence Between Every­day Sad­ness and Clin­i­cal Depres­sion

Watch Edith+Eddie, an Intense, Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed Short Film About America’s Old­est Inter­ra­cial New­ly­weds


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.