Fjögur Píanó: Mind-Controlled Slavery, Addiction, Drugs and Violent Sex

Fjögur Píanó: Mind-Controlled Slavery, Addiction, Drugs and Violent Sex

Fjögur Píanó is a thoughtful, haunting short film/music video created by Israeli director Alma Har’el, set to music by the acclaimed Icelandic band Sigur Rós. The band recently asked a dozen filmmakers to each choose a song from its new album, Valtari; given complete creative freedom, filmmaker Alma Har’el produced a seven-minute video that at first appears to be more of a dream sequence than a narrative. Fjögur Píanó is a wordless song comprised of four piano pieces that features actor Shia LaBeouf and actress Denna Thomsen in a stormy relationship, caught up in a destructive spiral, possibly revolving around mind-controlled drug addiction, lovesick co-dependence and sordid sexuality mixed with dominance and violence.

It is evident throughout the film that the couple is very confused, not in control of their destiny and hopelessly trapped in a state of virtual imprisonment. Much of the film’s symbolism hints at the concept of Monarch Mind Control. Monarch Mind Control is named after the Monarch butterfly, a genetically programmed insect that begins its life as a worm (representing undeveloped potential) and, after a period of cocooning (biological programming), is reborn as a beautiful butterfly (the Monarch slave).

From this perspective, Fjögur Píanó can be viewed as a dark commentary on a world of increasingly abusive totalitarian domination. Every aspect of Shia and Denna’s lives is manipulated by outside forces. Their living environment is controlled and modified by their handlers: they are drugged, blindfolded and forcibly taken on weird, dissociative trips. Attempts to break free from the cruel domination are useless. The couple is utterly powerless when confronted by the world around them, and in the end the only thing Shia can do is cut another bloody tally mark into Denna’s back.

Fjögur Píanó: Mind-Controlled Slavery, Addiction, Drugs and Violent Sex

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Remembering Hurricane Katrina: Portraits of Tragic Loss

Remembering Hurricane Katrina: Portraits of Tragic Loss

Photography by: Chris Jordan

Today, the mayors and governors along the Gulf Coast issued dire warnings about Hurricane Isaac. Seven years ago, Katrina slammed into New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph. More than 1,800 people were killed, most of them in Louisiana. On Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac had become a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph, which could get stronger by the time it’s expected to reach the swampy coast of southeast Louisiana. The latest projections showed Isaac making landfall at or near New Orleans late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

This week marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s ravages of New Orleans, a city that not long ago appeared to be completely lost. Only seven years have passed since rotting corpses were floating through the city’s streets, since hundreds of thousands of survivors sat in hotel rooms and shelters and the homes of relatives, finding out from news coverage that they had been forced to join the ranks of the homeless. The unbelievable devastation of New Orleans is almost beyond human comprehension. The virtually complete destruction of the entire city by Hurricane Katrina, the loss of huge numbers of lives, the ruination of the property and lives of so many, especially the poor and disadvantaged, is a tragedy of historically monumental proportions.

Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with devastating force at daybreak on Aug. 29, 2005, pounding an area that included the fabled city of New Orleans and wreaking large-scale damages on neighboring Mississippi. In all, more than 1,700 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of others were displaced. Packing a terrifying punch of 145-mile-an-hour winds when it made landfall, the category-4 storm left more than a million people in three states without power and submerged highways even hundreds of miles from its center. The hurricane’s storm surge pushed a 29-foot wall of water ashore when the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, which was the highest level ever measured in the United States. Levees failed in New Orleans, resulting in political and social upheavals that continue a half decade later.

Damage, costing billions of dollars, has made Katrina one of the costliest storms on record. In New Orleans, floodwaters from the breached levee rose to rooftops in the poorest neighborhoods, and in many areas residents were rescued from roofs of homes that had become uninhabitable. The hurricane’s roaring winds stripped 15-foot sections off the roof of the Superdome, where as many as 10,000 city residents had been forced to take shelter. An exodus of hundreds of thousands left the city, many becoming refugees, finding shelter with nearby relatives or restarting their lives in states as far away as Massachusetts and Utah.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper is maintaining detailed Hurricane Katrina Anniversary coverage, as well as an extensive archive of historical news coverage and photographs about Katrina, which can be accessed here.

After Hurricane Katrina: The Ghost Town

A Photographic Essay: In the Wake of Katrina

Slide Show: A Remembrance of Katrina’s Wake/Portraits of Tragic Loss

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Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

Don’t blame the devil
for the evils of man.

Lest We Forget is an award-winning 5-min. live-action short film directed by Brandon McCormick and produced by Whitestone Motion Pictures. Rich in cinematographic beauty, the film is set in a time of mortal combat during the Civil War and follows a lone soldier running away from or towards something; the only clue is a single key in his possession.

Lest We Forget serves as a poignant reminder that nobody lives in vain, and that sometimes someone even manages not to die in vain, even though every victim of every war is an unforgivable sin. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty that has made us free, and let us not be entangled again with the yokes of bondage.

Lest We Forget: Standing Fast Against the Yokes of Bondage

(Best Viewed Here in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition

The Factory is an acclaimed live-action short film directed by Aly Muritiba, which is a finalist in The Wrap’s 2012 Short Films Festival, a new festival presenting 12 award-winning short films selected from this year’s top international film festivals. The Factory has received more than 50 prizes at international film festivals, including: Best Short Film at the Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival 2012 (LA, United States); Best Short Film at the World Wide Short Films 2012 (Toronto, Canada); Best Short Film at the 14th Encounters South American Cinema de Marseille (Marseille, France); Special Jury Mention at the 34th Festival of Short Film Clermon-Ferrand (France); and Best Film Award at the Lake Film Festival (Italy).

The Factory tells a daring and emotional story of family ties, taking an an intense journey beneath the hard surface of a brutal prison environment, to show the spark and beauty of the human condition. The film takes place on visiting day at the prison. An inmate has convinced his mother to take a huge risk, smuggling a cell phone into the penitentiary for him. Lindalva prepares food to take to her son, while her son, Metruti, shaves and dresses in his best clothes to welcome her. Today is a very special day, and Metruti really needs to make that phone call.

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition (Official Trailer)

The Factory: A Story of Love, Sacrifice and the Human Condition (Full Version)

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The Maker: The Preciousness of Life and Love

The Maker: The Preciousness of Life and Love

The Maker is an acclaimed stop-motion animated short film directed by Christopher Kezelos, which is a finalist in The Wrap’s 2012 Short Films Festival, a new festival presenting 12 award-winning short films selected from this year’s top international film festivals. The Maker has previously screened and wan major film awards at The 2011 Rhode Island International Film Festival, Grand Prize; The 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, Best Animated Short; The 2012 Sydney Film Festival, Best Animated Short; The 2012 Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival, Grand Prize; The 2012 Indianapolis Film Fest, Best Short Film; and The 2012 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, Best Animated Short.

The Maker is set in a dimly lit fantasy world where a strange rabbit-like creature races against time, as he attempts to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life. Director Kezelos describes the film as an exploration of “the preciousness of our moments on earth, the short time we have with loved ones and the enjoyment of ones life’s work and purpose. In their fleeting existence our characters experience joy, love, hard work, purpose, loss and loneliness.”

The Maker: The Preciousness of Life and Love

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Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a finalist in The Wrap’s 2012 Short Films Festival, a new festival presenting 12 award winning short films selected from this year’s top international film festivals. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared screened at the 2012 Sundance and 2012 Sundance London Film Festivals and the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, where it received the SXSW Midnight Jury Award.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a wonderfully bizarre three-min. animated short film created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling from the London-based This Is It Collective. The short begins innocently enough, with a small cast of sort-of identifiable characters sitting around a table and sing-talking about being “creative.” Then again, it looks like a rather lame children’s video, telling kids how to do what they do really naturally anyway, use their imaginations. But suddenly, it turns into a extremely disturbing free-association sequence, hinting at some very bleak psychological states, more like Black Swan than Sesame Street.

The filmmakers zero in on adult insecurities about self-expression, then delve into the perils of creativity. Such dangers quickly lead to terrifying glitter-covered animal organs (real, bloody ones, not made from the felt everything else in this video is made of), seizures and death. But just as quickly as the characters are served a gory meat cake, everything goes back to normal. And, just like any other children’s television show, the lesson learned is repeated at the end of the segment. And just what is that lesson? Never, never be creative. Unless you want to die.

Watch this video to the very end and you won’t regret it. Or will you?

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

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On the Road with The Kills: Dream and Drive

On the Road with The Kills: Dream and Drive

The Kills just celebrated their ten-year anniversary as a band, but it feels like they’re just getting started. Singer Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince have taken their time on their rise from anonymous newcomers to veritable rock stars. Last year they put out their fourth album, Blood Pressures, and played some of the biggest venues of their career. Now, on September 4th, they’ll release a book of photographs, Dream and Drive, taken by their longtime friend Kenneth Cappello.

Photographer Cappello has gotten to know Mosshart and Hince pretty well over the last 10 years. Through lonely deserts and stages crawling with fans and sweat, Cappello captured many of the band’s most public and private moments. “He’s seen it all, the good and the bad, the broken down and the weird,” says Mosshart in the forward to Dream and Drive, Cappello’s collection of photographs of life on the road with The Kills.

The Kills: Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” (2012)

The Kills: The Last Goodbye

The Last Goodbye is a powerfully emotive music video portrait of the rock duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, directed by the Oscar nominated actress Samantha Morton. The Kills celebrate ten years of musical partnership with this poignant and captivating video. The melancholic song The Last Goodbye offsets the usually hard-edged sound that Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are known for, with haunting vocals and a nostalgic piano loop. Shot in monochrome on crisp, silvery 35mm film, the video reflects the beautiful simplicity of the track, while using an old-school photo-booth to provide an intimate backdrop for Mosshart’s intense and heart-warming opening performance. Her introduction is followed by a series of touching poses that casts a tender light on the musicians’longstanding and spirited friendship, as Mosshart and Hince share memories of their first meeting and a decade of collaboration.

The Kills: The Last Goodbye

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

Photo-Gallery: The Kills: Dream and Drive

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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