7.4/10
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3 user 11 critic

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (2016)

A brilliant but tortured 56-year-old artist channels her depression and anxiety into her work.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Tom Wudl ... Himself
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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. Written by Frank Stiefel

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Her art saved her life.


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October 2016 (USA)  »

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Рай - это пробка на 405-м шоссе  »

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Title Is Misleading, but I Didn't Care in the End
23 February 2017 | by See all my reviews

"Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405" is not about Los Angeles traffic. It's 40-minute documentary short about a mentally ill artist, her past and how her work with cartoons and sculpture helped her break out of her shell.

I can't fault the misdirection in the title because the description above probably would not have lured me into the theater. Were that the case, I would have missed out on a surprisingly compelling portrait of a woman who has persevered on the edge of sanity.

"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 electroshock therapy and survive a 10-year period without the ability to speak," writes Director Frank Stiefel in his summary. "Her hyper self- awareness has allowed her to produce a lifelong body of work that expresses her emotional state with powerful psychological precision."

During a Q&A following a screening at the Sedona International Film Festival, Stiefel explained that he met Alper when she was his wife's art school classmate. I commend him for recognizing an opportunity and delivering a fascinating story. Check out this film if you have the opportunity.


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