Heaven Is a Traffic Jam On the 405 (2016)



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This is a portrait of a brilliant 56 year old artist who is represented by one of Los Angeles' top galleries. Her body of raw, emotional work reveals a lifetime of extreme depression and anxiety. Mindy 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.

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Critic Reviews for Heaven Is a Traffic Jam On the 405

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Frank Stiefel's fascinating portrait of the artist Mindy Alper has many layers, almost as many as the wire spirals of Alper's whimsical and haunting sculptures.

Feb 23, 2018 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
Top Critic

A marvelously moving portrait of artist Mindy Alper. Her blunt openness about herself... is a challenge to us all to know ourselves as well as she seems to know herself, even when it's incredibly painful and difficult to do so.

Mar 4, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

[Mindy Alper's] art, including the doodles she drew as a kid, is astonishingly sensitive, and Stiefel uses animation and optical effects to put viewers into Alper's head.

Feb 23, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Though it can be difficult to hear Mindy recount some her stories, Heaven is A Traffic Jam on the 405 is playful and beautiful treatise on the power of art as therapy and the uniquely human ability to transform pain into expression.

Feb 20, 2018 | Full Review…

This thoughtful documentary from Frank Stiefel profiles a middle-aged woman named Mindy Alper, who has used her artwork to cope with her mental illness.

Feb 16, 2018 | Full Review…

Mindy Alper is compelling, both for her eccentricities and her genius, as well as tragically for her story of abuse and terrible treatments and continued medical problems.

Feb 11, 2018 | Full Review…

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