What do Barbie dolls and the history of the Jewish people have in common? Quite a lot, according to filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, whose documentary uses the doll's Jewish inventor Ruth Handler as a jumping-off point for an 18-minute riff on the heretofore unseen connections between Jewish culture and Ken's plastic girlfriend. Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film mixes archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to tell two seemingly disparate histories that nevertheless converge in unexpected ways.
One of Newsweek's Women Shaping the 21st Century, award-winning filmmaker Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker, founder of The Webby Awards, co-founded the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences and a Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute. Tiffany’s films have have won 20 awards including Audience and Grand Jury Prizes and been translated into 8 languages. Her films—a fusion of documentary and narrative and known for their whimsical yet provocative approach unraveling complicated subjects like politics, cultural identity, technology and science—include Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness, about reproductive rights in America and The Tribe, an exploration of American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll, the first documentary to become #1 on iTunes. Her short film at Sundance this year, “Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,” about the importance of “unplugging,” was selected for competition for The Guggenheim Museum and YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video and Sundance 2011. Her new feature documentary, “Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology,” premiered in the US Documentary Competition at Sundance 2011. TA celebrated thinker and speaker, she has advised Secretary of State Clinton, is on the advisory board of M.I.T.’s Geospatial Lab and presented the 2010 Commencement Address at UCBerkeley. For more information, visit her website: www.tiffanyshlain.com.
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