Sigur Ros, ‘Valtari’ & the rebirth of the (NSFW) music video

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With both the short film and the music video seemingly in decline, we all owe a debt to the Icelandic band Sigur Ros for trying to keep both forms alive.

In connection with their most recent album, “Valtari,” the band commissioned short films from a wide array of directors, including John Cameron Mitchell and Alma Har’el. Most of them are quite arresting, albeit with sexual imagery that would prevent them from being aired on MTV or most of the other basic cable outlets.  

The band asked the filmmakers to create whatever came into their heads as they listened to the new music. Each director was given the same small budget. Sigur Ros gave complete freedom to the directors and the result is a haunting, eclectic array of work.

The project will be celebrated globally the weekend of Dec. 7-9, with Real Art Ways in Hartford hosting the Connecticut leg on Dec. 7.

In other towns and cities on all seven continents (including Antarctica!), the “Valtari Film Experiment” will play theaters, rock clubs, hardware stores and hair salons.

In addition to the professional directors who participated, the band invited fans all over the world to contribute their own visual takes on the cuts from the album. The public screenings will include some of the fan videos.

An early video from the “Valtari” project by Israeli director Har’el — set to the track “Fjogur piano” — has gotten the most attention because of the participation of American actor Shia LaBeouf who appears in it in the buff (sorry).

The video appears to be part of the actor’s attempt to change the rather wholesome image he created in films like “Holes,” the Transformers movies and that dismal Indiana Jones sequel of a few years back.

LaBeouf bit the hands that fed him — the enormous paws of director Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg — in interviews in which he seemed to diss their Transformer movies.

At the moment, the actor appears to have turned his back on Hollywood. In addition to the risque Sigur Ros video, he will be featured in the next film by Lars von Trier — “Nymphomaniac” — around which have swirled rumors of hard core sex scenes.

Those who go to the Sigur Ros “Valtari” event will receive a secret URL and a password for that URL where they can enter to win a special prize package.

Most of the videos for “Valtari” — including “Fjogur piano” — are available free of charge at http://sigur-ros.co.uk 

Details on the Hartford screening can be found at www.realartways.org

Joe Meyers

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