Brain Pickings

Film Spotlight: BALIBO


The bleeding edge of journalism, or what 30 years of silence look like under the bright lights.

In 1975, as Indonesia prepares to invade the small nation of East Timor, five Australian journalists go missing. Four weeks later, a foreign correspondent by the name of Roger East arrives in the small country to investigate what happened. As political tensions intensify, he forms an unlikely friendship with the man who will soon be President, who grants him full access to the country in order to tell its story. But, for thirty years, the crimes remain covered and the story untold.

This summer, BALIBO, an ambitious political thriller from director Robert Connolly, starring Anthony LaPaglia and Oscar Isaac, brings the truth to light.

In this compelling Q&A on Australia’s ABC network, lead actor and executive producer Anthony LaPaglia delves into the deeper political context of the film and the relationship between fact and fiction in historical films.

BALIBO is based on Cover-up, a 2002 investigative novel by Jill Jolliffe who, working as a freelance correspondent for Reuters in 1975, witnessed the first incursions of Indonesian troops and reported the deaths of her five colleagues.

Thanks, Sarah

Fun For Good: The Indie Rock Coloring Book


Staying outside the lines, or what Rilo Kiley’s latest haircuts have to do with charity.

Indie music defines itself through the colorful quirk of its artists and evangelists. Without that, it would blend in with the grey mediocrity of the mainstream. For the past two years, obscenely talented UK illustrator Andy J. Miller has been working on a project that celebrates this whimsy. Today, he finally releases the Indie Rock Coloring Book — a wonderful collection of hand-illustrated activity pages, mazes, connect-the-dots, and coloring pages for indie icons like Bloc Party, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Broken Social Scene, Devendra Banhart, MGMT, The New Pornographers, The National, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Published by Montreal-based creative nonprofit Yellow Bird Project, the book is brimming with delightful indie rock inside jokes and comes with a cherry-on-top foreword by YBP band Rilo Kiley.

All proceeds go to Yellow Bird’s charitable mission, so pony up those measly $10, buy yourself some fun, and show your favorite artists some indie camaraderie.

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The Little Album That Could


Soy, swing and what the Grammys have to do with pop-up books.

The recording industry may be in serious trouble, and the album may have been declared dead, but that’s all the more reason to innovate.

That’s exactly what The Ditty Bops — a California duo who happen to make fantastic swing-era-inspired folksy, jazzy, delightfully eccentric music — did with their Summer Rains EP.

The beautifully engineered pop-out design is a whimsical piece of storytelling, adding a rich new layer to the musical narrative. Unsurprisingly, it received a Grammy nomination for “Best Recording Package.”

The album was designed by LA-based paper engineer Renee Jablow, whom The Ditty Bops found through a UK pop-up collector. (Read an interview with her about the project and the future of the music industry’s relationship with packaging on the wonderful package design blog, The Dieline.)

It’s hard not to love The Ditty Bops — besides the innovative music and aesthetic, they also helped pass America’s first plastic bag ban in San Francisco in 2007. Not coincidentally, the band was committed to making Summer Rains EP completely eco-friendly — the album package was made of 100% recycled paper and printed with soy ink, adding a whole new layer of production challenges to the already ambitious project.

But then again, what’s innovation if not the zest for imagining the impossible and then making it happen?

The Typophile Film Festival


The traveling type, or why Helvetica vacations in Portland.

We love typography. We love indie film festivals. So we’re head-over-heels with the fifth annual Typophile Film Fest, which opens in Portland tomorrow and will be traveling to select cities later this year.

With a curated selection of typographic short films from Europe, North and South America and Asia, the festival spans the full spectrum of subject and style — from dynamic typographic animation to short stories to mockumentaries to interviews.

So if you’re in the Portland area tomorrow, get yourself a ticket. If elsewhere, keep an eye out for tour dates.

Meanwhile, tease your typographic palate with the delightful opening credits from years past.

Thanks, Kirstin.