Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

17 FEBRUARY, 2011

Missing Sarajevo: A Political U2 Rockumentary


What beauty pageants have to do with war tragedy and the power of rock.

Between 1992 and 1996, The Siege of Sarajevo claimed tens of thousands of lives and its place in textbooks as the longest siege of a world capital in the history of modern warfare, as the rest of the world stood idly by. In the summer of 1993, American aid worker Bill Carter smuggled himself out of Sarajevo and into U2’s backstage in Verona, telling the band about the situation there. Bono immediately sprang to action, wanting to play a concert in Sarajevo, but was told not to go because the situation had gotten too dangerous. So, instead, he decided to do something that had never been done before — send a satellite dish instead and play a satellite show, long before the age of telecommuting and digi-presence.

But the satellite show wasn’t enough for Bono and he resolved to eventually play a real concert. In 1997, he kept his promise, making U2 the first major artist to play a concert in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina — an extraordinary event that brought together people of different ethnicities who had fiercely clashed during the war. Missing Sarajevo is the story of this epic concert’s making, a fascinating microdocumentary about the political power of rock.

From the formidable setlist, including the song “Miss Sarajevo,” which Bono and Brian Eno wrote about a beauty pageant held at the peak of the war, to this profound human moment on stage, the concert was a poetic exercise in human connectedness in the midst of social and political turmoil. The documentary is available on YouTube in two parts, gathered below for your edutainment:

In many ways, that U2 concert played the same role Twitter did in this month’s Egyptian revolution — giving a voice to the repressed and oppressed to break the silence of the world. And regardless of which way the debates on whether or not that constitutes “real” activism, one thing is clear: Voice is always better than voicelessness.

via MetaFilter

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10 FEBRUARY, 2011

Saul Bass on Money, Quality Work & Creative Legacy


We’re big fans of iconic designer Saul Bass. This triad of interviews, filmed shortly before Bass’s death in 1996, offers a rare peek at the machinery of his creative genius as he shares priceless and often unexpected insight on the tradeoff between making money and doing quality work, his legacy, and the fundamental competency responsibilities of young designers.

I don’t give a damn if the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it IS worth anything — it’s worth it to me. It’s the way I wanna live my life. I wanna make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” ~ Saul Bass

Learn to draw! If you don’t, you’re gonna live your life getting around that and trying to compensate for that.” ~ Saul Bass

The full 90-minute documentary is available on 2-disc DVD from the filmmaker and designer Archie Boston’s site. Meanwhile, don’t miss Bass’s absolutely fantastic Why Man Creates animated feature, a deeper investigation into the origin of creative impetus.

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09 FEBRUARY, 2011

The Future of Art: An Immediated Autodocumentary


Last week, we featured Aaron Koblin’s insightful thoughts on the digital renaissance. The interview, produced by futurism exploration outfit Emergence Collective, was actually part of a larger “immediated autodocumentary” — a full-length documentary short and edited in an extraordinarily short amount of time — on the future of art, released this week. The film features interviews with 13 leading digital artists and creative entrepreneurs, interviewed at the 2011 Transmediale Festival in Berlin, and explores everything from remix culture to the role of content curators to collaborative creativity.

That is the role that we [curators] play — making connections between things that might not otherwise be obvious connections.” ~ Heather Kelley

The idea of originality and proprietariness also contributes to the whole Great Man Theory, which is slowly disintegrating — the idea of the genius, the Freud, the Marx, the Leonardo, the Einstein… They’ve come up with an idea that’s completely related to the man that came up with it. Whereas, today, the ideas just get thrown out there and used, and it’s that use that in a way is the art, rather than the person who comes up with the idea.” ~ Ken Wahl

via Swiss Miss

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08 FEBRUARY, 2011

PICKED: Iceland Beyond Sigur Rós


We love Sigur Rós. But there’s more to Iceland’s music landscape than Jonsi. That’s precisely what Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós explores. The half-hour documentary, produced by Icelandic nonprofit film collective Serious Feather, celebrates Iceland’s dynamic and diverse independent music scene.

Filmed with beautiful HD cinematography, the documentary features interviews with cultural pundits and music critics like Grapevine Magazine‘s Haukur Magnússon, pop-classical composer and producer Ólafur Arnalds, and Pétur Úlfur Einarsson and Hafsteinn Michael Guomundsson, co-founders of online music distributor Gogoyoko.

Interspersed between the insightful interviews are vibrant performances by Icelandic indie favorites like Hafdis Huld, Berndsen, Mugison, Ólafur Arnalds, Lára Rúnars, Bloodgroup, For A Minor Reflection, Seabear, Sykur and Severed Crotch.

So go ahead and take a look. Because, let’s face it, as phenomenal as the latest Sigur Rós album may be, it might be time to take it off repeat and expand your taste for Icelandic music.

via Coudal

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07 FEBRUARY, 2011

American Maker: A Manifesto for Hands-On Creativity from 1960


In 1960, the Chevrolet division of General Motors and the Handy (Jam) Organization produced American Maker a half-hour film about craftsmanship, creativity and how Americans build. More than a mere vehicle of patriotic propaganda, the film is beautifully shot and offers stunning footage of life and work in that era for a fascinating cultural contrast to the “Swinging London” of the 1960, going on at the same time across the pond.

Of all things Americans are, we are makers. With our strengths and our minds and spirit, we gather and form and we fashion. Makers and shapers and put-it-togetherers. We start young, finding out early in life what it’s like to feel something grow and take shape beneath our hands.”

As makers of today and shapers for tomorrow, we Americans seem to share an inborn understanding of how to go about making the things we want. Whether we’re reaching for the moon, hobbying in the home, doing our part on a convenience to be enjoyed, or preparing a tasty tidbit, we’re — all of us — makers.”

So successful was the film that it was played in tandem with Hitchcock’s Psycho, the blockbuster of its day, in select theaters in the Detroit area — the automaker’s prime target of patriotic pep.

The film is available as a free download in multiple video formats from The Internet Archive and offers a priceless, timeless, nationless ode to the art of hands-on innovation, as well as a timely nod at the recent groundswell of the shut-up-and-make-something ethos.

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