According to the NFL, there were 281 concussions this season. That’s a worryingly high number, especially as we learn more and more about the longterm effects of brain injuries; it’s also the inspiration for Josh Begley’s short film “Concussion Protocol.” Made in conjunction with Field of Vision, the six-minute video shows several concussions in slow-motion reverse. The effect is disorienting — and hard to turn away from despite how difficult it can be to watch.
A data artist, Begley also directed “Best of Luck with the Wall” for Field of Vision. Here he removes all diegetic sound from the field of play, lending a sickening detachment to the action. Several of the players shown have their helmets thrown off after being hit, and all look disoriented in the immediate aftermath of their injuries. Eventually the footage is shown up to briefly include every reported concussion of the season, and the film ends as it began: with Bennie Fowler III of the Denver Broncos having a delayed reaction after landing on his head while catching a pass in the end zone. This time the footage isn’t reversed, but it isn’t any easier to watch.
“Citizenfour” director Laura Poitras produced “Concussion Protocol.” Watch it below.