A film by Frank Stiefel
2017, 40 minutes
No. 161


2018 Academy Award Winner | Best Documentary Short Subject
2018 Notable Video | American Library Association
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An extraordinary and innovative documentary, Heaven is a portrait of artist Mindy Alper, whose renowned and astonishing body of work reveals a lifetime of struggle with debilitating mental illness.

Alper has suffered through electro shock therapy, multiple commitments to mental institutions and a 10-year period without speech. Her only consistent means of communicating has been to channel her hyper self-awareness into drawings and sculpture of powerful psychological clarity.

Through an examination of her work, interviews, reenactments, the building of an eight and a half foot papier-mache bust of her beloved psychiatrist, we learn how she has emerged from a life of darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and laughter.

*The 405 Freeway is the north/south highway that connects Los Angeles to its northern suburbs. It is statistically the busiest highway in the world and is loathed by every commuter. The title of the film is a quote from Mindy and expresses the views of someone who sees life differently than the rest of us.

Winner, Best Short Documentary Subject, 90th Academy Awards
Nominee, Best Short, IDA Documentary Awards
Winner, Jury Award for Best Short, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Audience Award for Best Short, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Audience Award, Austin Film Festival
Winner, Hiscox Courage Award, Austin Film Festival
Winner, Jury Award, Austin Film Festival
Winner, Artistic Inspiration Award, Docutah Documentary Festival
Winner, Documentary Production for addressing mental illness, trauma, and recovery, Voice Award

“Starred Review! This moving program is a reminder of the power of art and the importance of personal expression.” – Booklist

"The film follows artist Mindy Alper, who has spent her life creating remarkable works of art, despite a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, a story that is warmly and expressively told through Stiefel's compelling lens." – Indiewire

"A portrait of a remarkable artist. Alper has been able to create stunning large-scale sculptures and drawings noted for their psychological acuity. Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405 paints a deeply moving portrait of an endearing woman who has born suffering with gentleness and humor - a noble and loving soul." – NonfictionFilm

“An exceptional film. At once delightful and melancholy…. Heaven is an optimistic piece reminding viewers of the power of art to bring meaning to struggle. Recommended for academic and public libraries, especially for students of art, art therapy, and psychology." – Educational Media Reviews Online

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