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Daily Helping for January 3rd, 2021 – Samah Damanhoori and Eun Bi Chang – Paper City

A photo still from the animated short Paper City of the main character looking out over a city from a high vantage point.

I was incredibly lucky to have met the creator, writer, and producer of Paper City, Samah Damanhoori, last summer over Zoom. To say that she is inspiring would be the understatement of the year, and I couldn’t wait to see this finished film. It was finally released last month, and I’m thrilled to get to share it as today’s helping. Paper City is billed as a love letter to a lost family, as Samah is originally from Saudi Arabia. She moved to the United States in order to pursue her education, and eventually had to make the painful decision to separate from her family. Samah wrote this film as a way of reaching out and hopefully opening the door to reconciliation. She has since become both a filmmaker and activist, and you can learn more about her story here. As I said, so incredibly inspiring.

To say that I loved this film would be yet another understatement of the year, as it is truly beautiful. It tells the story of a young man returning home after being separated from his family, and it is clearly a very personal narrative for Samah. But there’s also so much about this film that is universal. Its themes of family, cultural reckoning, and being true to yourself are not limited to just one person’s story. These are things that we can all relate to, and probably struggle with as well.

Personally, my favourite part was the visual motif of the main character bringing colour into the world wherever he goes. Not only is it a beautiful visual, but it’s also a wonderful representation of how every time someone embraces their true self, they bring more beauty into the world by simply being themself. What a wonderful way to start a new year.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!