Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

Photography by: Lucie & Simon, Paris

Silent World is an engrossing short film comprised of an apocalyptic series of photographs by Paris-based filmmakers/photographers Lucie & Simon, set to the music of Philip Glass and Daft Punk. When you think of ghost towns, your mind doesn’t typically gravitate to New York City, Paris or Beijing. Yet that’s what these teeming cities have become in the hands of Lucie & Simon.

Lucie & Simon have used a digital scalpel and a special filter to remove humans from the city landscapes. They have left just enough evidence of our species’ presence, a lone woman in a blood-red coat in Madison Square Garden or a hoisted flag in Tiananmen Square, to make the mysterious, mass disappearances as uncannily disturbing as possible.

Many city dwellers no doubt have dreamed of a magically emptied and peaceful metropolis. But Silent World suggests that life would not be so peaceful in a completely silent city. It’s unnatural and threatening; the uneasy feeling of being the last person on earth could build and build until one goes mad.

Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

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Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas was,
Older than sin,
And his beard could grow no whiter,
He wanted to die.

Nicholas Was is a darkly humorous animated short film, the 2010 Christmas Card created by the Beijing studio, 39 Degrees North.  The animated short is an adaptation of a wonderful poem by the fantastic Neil Gaiman.  The film begins by taking a rather unconventional route, and after that there’s simply no turning back. The pull of the dark side becomes just too strong, resulting in an arduous and thankless trip for St. Nicholas that is way beyond awesome.

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Out and Golden, Australia’s Matthew Mitcham Wins Men’s 10m Platform Diving

Out and Golden, Australia’s Matt Mitcham Wins Men’s 10m Platform Diving

Matthew Mitcham did two very surprising things at the Beijing Olympics. First, he snatched a gold medal away from the apparently invincible Chinese diving team. Second, Mitcham openly told anyone who asked about his sexuality that he is gay. Matt is undaunted on the platform, and he’s just as fearless about his personal life.

Making his Olympic debut in Beijing in the 10m platform event, Australia’s Matthew Mitcham earned four perfect 10’s on his last dive Saturday night, winning the men’s 10m platform diving competition. “I couldn’t hear the crowd. In my mind I was saying ‘just enjoy it’,” he said of his last, magnificent, dive. Mitcham put his hands over his face and broke into tears after making his winning dive, later saying, “It’s absolutely surreal. I never thought that this would be possible.”

I wasn’t even sure of my medal chances at all. After I did my last dive and I saw I was in first, I thought, ‘That’s it, it’s a silver medal, I am so happy with this’ and then I won. I can’t believe it, I’m so happy.” His stunning upset victory prevented China from sweeping all eight of the Olympic diving gold medals. Not only was Mitcham’s triumph an astonishing upset win, his sixth and final dive was the highest scoring dive in Olympic history. Mitcham is the first Australian man since 1924 to win a gold medal in diving, and only the third Australian ever to do so.

Mitcham grew up as a non-athletic, rebellious kid, and he’s probably the only elite diver with a tongue piercing. Matt, who is often described as “free-spirited,” still has the piercing, which he says he doesn’t even notice while diving. Mitcham first caught the eye of the then Australian national coach when he was doing back-flips into a public swimming pool as a young teenager. From 2002 until 2006, Mitcham was an award winning diver in both junior and senior national and international diving competitions.

But in 2006 he suddenly quit diving, having become sick of the sport after spending years in the Australian program’s rigid training regimen. After both emotional burnout and physical exhaustion, Matt decided to retire from the sport while he was still a teenager. For a long period of time the young Mitcham had to battle anxiety and depression, which led him to begin psychotherapy and required him to spend some time on medication.

A year later, Mitcham returned to the sport and began training under his current coach, Chava Sobrino, at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. In 2008, Mitcham won all three of his diving events at the Australian Nationals, clean-sweeping the gold medals in the 1m, 3m and 10m individual platform diving events. He followed this spectacular comeback appearance by winning the 2008 Diving Grand Prix event earlier this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Then just three months prior to leaving with the Australian team to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Mitcham made headlines in Australia when he revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald that he is gay, becoming one of the first Australian athletes to do so. In fact, according to a recent sports study, Matt Mitcham is the only man among 10,500 Olympic athletes to have publicly stated that he is gay while still participating in Olympic competition. Mitcham wanted more than anything else for his longtime partner, Lachlan, who has fought the tumultuous battle of Olympic dreams with him, to be there in Beijing’s stands cheering him on. When Mitcham couldn’t afford to pay for it on his own, a grant from Johnson and Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program enabled his partner to come to Beijing and support him.

The first thing that Mitcham did in the “mixed zone” with the print journalists, after getting off of the Gold Medal ceremony platform, was to hug the Sydney Morning Herald reporter who had handled with such particular sensitivity the story in which Mitcham had revealed that he was gay. He was asked what this Olympic victory meant to him after the tumultuous ups and downs of his last few years. “Everything, absolutely everything I’ve done has been for this,” he said. “I knew it was a far chance, but I did absolutely everything I could to give myself the best chance of doing it. It’s actually happened, and I never thought it would.”

Matt Mitcham Wins Olympic Gold in 10m Platform Diving

The Olympic Gold Medal Ceremony

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Americans Clinch 4×100-Meter Medley Relay, Phelps Wins Eighth Gold

Americans Clinch 4x100m Medley Relay, Phelps Wins Eighth Gold Medal

A quest that began four years ago after Michael Phelps had won six gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics and included 17 swimming performances over nine days at the 2008 Beijing Olympics ended victoriously for Phelps on Sunday. Michael Phelps earned an unprecedented eighth Olympic gold medal of the 2008 Olympics as he swam the butterfly leg of the American team’s world-record win in the 4×100-meter medley relay to close out the swimming competition in Beijing.

Jason Lezak held off Eamon Sullivan of Australia in the final freestyle leg, with the Americans finishing in 3:29.34 seconds. The American men have never lost the medley relay in the history of the Olympics. Australia took the silver medal in 3:30.04 seconds, and Japan won the bronze.

Phelps had tied Mark Spitz with his seventh gold medal the day before in the 100-meter butterfly, winning by the slimmest of margins, .01 of a second over Serbian Milorad Cavic. Phelps set world records in seven of his eight swims, with only the 100-meter butterfly mark not broken. He also won the 400-meter IM, the 200-meter IM and the 200-meter butterfly, breaking his own world mark in each, and led off the 4×200-meter free relay.

Americans Clinch 4x100m Medley, Phelps Wins Eighth Gold

The Olympic 4x100m Medley Gold Medal Ceremony

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Michael Phelps Wins 100m Fly, Seventh Gold on Final Stroke

Michael Phelps Wins 100m Fly, Seventh Gold on Final Stroke

With just five meters left to go in the 100-meter butterfly final on Saturday morning, Michael Phelps realized that he had misjudged the finish. In order to defeat the Serbian Milarad Cavic, who was having perhaps the greatest race of his career, Phelps found himself left with only two choices. He could either glide to the wall as he kicked like crazy, or take an extra, awkward half-stroke.

Most swimmers would have impulsively chosen to glide, but Phelps proved by the slimmest of margins what sets him apart. With Olympic history hanging in the balance, Michael Phelps decided to take one more stroke. His long arms soared above the water, windmilled past his ears and slammed into the wall, while Cavic hit the timing pad in full glide. Both of the swimmers immediately spun around and stared up at the video screen. In the moments that it took for the scoreboard to unscramble the results, one could feel the great tension course through the large crowd of spectators inside Beijing’s National Aquatics Center.

Phelps ended up coming in with a time of 50.58 seconds, his personal best and an Olympic record, winning over Cavic by a whisker, who came in just one-hundredth of a second behind. It was Michael Phelps seventh Gold Medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, tying Mark Spitz’s record from the 1972 Munich Games.

Michael Phelps Wins the 100m Butterfly Final

Phelps Receives His Seventh Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics

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Sexy Olympic Water Sports

Sexy Water Sports at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

David Boudia and Thomas Pinchum: Syncronized Diving Finals

Michael Phelps Wins Gold Medal in 200m Butterfly Relay

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A Glittering Ceremony Opens The 2008 Beijing Olympics

A Glittering Ceremony Opens The 2008 Beijing Olympics

The eyes of the world were on Beijing as a glittering opening ceremony heralded the start of the Games. An audience of 91,000, which included many of the world’s heads of state, were in the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the ceremony. Before the night’s festivities even began, performers from 28 different Chinese ethnic groups danced during the pre-show entertainment. Then, the ceremony opened with a drumbeat that turned into 1000 and roared across the Olympic Green and through the nation.

The opening ceremony was dazzling and the Olympic Park was revealed to the world as a showcase of modern architecture that will define the Chinese capital well into the century. An estimated four billion people around the world watched as China re-introduced itself to the world.

The Opening Ceremony: Lighting of the Olympic Torch

The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony Fireworks Display

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