Tribeca Online: Watch five short documentaries

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[From April 19th to the 29th, Flixist will bring you live coverage of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Keep an eye out for news, features, interviews, videos, and reviews of some of the most anticipated films to hit the festival circuit in 2012.]

The Tribeca Film Festival doesn’t start until Thursday, but five short documentaries are currently available to stream as part of the Tribeca Online Film Festival. Once the actual festival is in full swing, additional short films and feature-length films will be available to stream online for free. We’ll keep you posted as this happens.

The current slate you can watch right now are Heart Stop Beating, Hilary’s Straws, The Landfill, Meet Mr. Toilet, and Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste. (Admit it, you want to watch Meet. Mr. Toilet based on the title alone.) The films are part of the Focus Forward series, which is co-presented by Cinelan. Each of these five documentaries is around three minutes long

Read synopses for the five films after the cut. Check back tomorrow morning when more Tribeca Online Film Festival content becomes available.

Heart Stop Beating

SYNOPSIS: The story of Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier, two visionary doctors who attempt to replace a dying man’s heart with a rotor-driven device of their own design. If successful, this technology could prove life is possible without a heartbeat, and bring us one step closer to overcoming America’s number one killer — heart disease.

Watch Heart Stop Beating

Hilary’s Straws

SYNOPSIS: Hilary Lister is a record-breaking quadriplegic sailor from Kent, England. She suffers from the progressive condition reflex sympathetic dystrophy and controls her single-handed ship by using sip-and-puff technology for steering and sails. Sip-and-puff technology is a unique innovative method used to send signals to a device using air pressure by inhaling or exhaling on a straw, tube or “wand.” As a recent invention it is now primarily used by people who do not have the use of their hands. Hilary has taken this innovation to new heights. She is the first quadriplegic to sail solo across the English Channel (in 6 hours and 13 minutes). On 24 July 2007, she became the first female quadriplegic to sail solo around the Isle of Wight. She won the Sunday Times Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration in 2005. Hilary was able-bodied until the age of 15. She was introduced to sailing in 2003, which she says gave her life “new meaning and purpose.”

Watch Hilary’s Straws

The Landfill

SYNOPSIS: The United States produces 390 billion pounds of garbage every year, and finding places to dispose of it is a serious environmental and economic challenge. But what if we could change the way we think about garbage, from something to be disposed of to something to be harvested? The Landfill profiles a small county landfill in Upstate New York, which is using a system of composting, recycling, and methane capture technology to operate sustainably while producing electricity for 400 homes in their area. By focusing on the people and ideas behind this innovative waste-to-energy initiative, The Landfill shows the beauty and potential of the stuff we throw away.

Watch The Landfill

Meet Mr. Toilet

SYNOPSIS:Meet Mr. Toilet introduces us to Jack Sim, Singaporean businessman-turned-sanitation crusader. Worldwide, 2.6 billion people lack access to safe sanitation, resulting in disease, contaminated water sources, and 1.5 million child deaths per year. Because human waste is a taboo subject, little progress has been made. But as “Mr. Toilet,” Sim has opened the dialogue wide open — through humor, plain speaking, and a humanitarian business model. To get the poor to adopt simple toilets, he says, “Treat them like customers.” His vision has helped place the sanitation crisis on the global stage.

Watch Meet Mr. Toilet

Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste

SYNOPSIS: Flush a toilet in Manhattan or Brooklyn and chances are that you are sending your regards to the Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Greenpoint, directly across the East River from Manhattan, just south of the United Nations. At 54 acres in size, it is the largest of fourteen wastewater treatment plants operated by New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection. To anyone taking a taxi to a New York airport over the Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the plant’s eight silvery “Eggs” challenge the Manhattan skyline. Fourteen stories tall, they’re the largest objects on the Brooklyn waterfront, huge props built for a science fiction film.

Watch Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.