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Sigur Rós keeps fans dreaming with The Valtari Mystery Film Experiment

You might remember a little blip on your hoopla feed back in June of this year, when a music video featuring a naked, strung-out Shia LaBeouf went shimmying across the web. Though I never quite understood the appeal of Mr. LaBeouf myself (this is what Hollywood considers good looking now? Really?), I did quite enjoy listening to the video’s track, provided by Iceland’s ambient post-rock darlings, Sigur Rós.

Lil’ Shia’s druggy romp through Nudie Town was all part of a film project cooked up by Sigur Rós upon the release of their new album, Valtari. The band commissioned several well-known filmmakers and video directors to create works inspired by the album, giving each artist (or group of artists) complete creative control over the process as well as the finished, filmic product. Sigur Rós also invited fans to contribute their own original videos based on the music of Valtari, with the promise of two prominent spots on the film series’ roster. And the result of all this creative letting go and letting God? Sixteen utterly unique, contemplative, well-wrought pieces that will leave viewers mesmerized, galvanized, and maybe even a tiny bit scandalized.

This weekend, more than a hundred screenings of the Valtari Mystery Film Experiment will take place in art house-friendly venues around the world. You can catch your own glimpse of the magic at the PHI Centre, on December 9th.

Have I whet your appetite? Want to know more? Well, let me dish on some of the project’s highlights:


By Dash Shaw & John Cameron Mitchell

Seraph from Sigur Rós Valtari Mystery Films on Vimeo.
This stark animation drawn by Dash Shaw (Bodyworld) and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) made me cry. There – I said it. I don’t know if it was the score, or the subject matter, or the fact that I’m somewhat emotional these days, but this cartoon about seraphs and sexuality and sweet little boys who are subjugated and suppressed just brought big, blubbery tears to my eyes.


By Inga Birgisdóttir

Director and “moving art” exponent Inga Birgisdóttir (Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigríður Níelsdóttir) knows how to create a tonne of impact with very little action. What starts off as a static image of a rocky, coastal landscape slowly comes to life with the addition of small, shadowy, moving figures. When these figures start flashing signal lights at one another, you begin to wonder: are they trying to dole out a salutation, or warn each other against something more sinister? I’d place my bet on the latter, as the song’s title used for the video, “Varúð”, translates to “Caution”.


By Ryan McGinley

Sigur Rós: Varúð from Sigur Rós Valtari Mystery Films on Vimeo.
Best known for his photographic work with the young, lithe and naked of New York, Ryan McGinley captures a different type of youthful exuberance here in a tribute to his favourite city. Using the song “Varúð” to score his film, the only danger in evidence here is a possible wig-slip (well, that, and getting run over by a yellow cab. Just trust me on this one. You’ll see what I mean.)


Ég Anda
By Ramin Bahrani

Fish! Tanks! Ducks! Helicopters! Parrots with overgrown maxillas and mandibles! Need I say more? (I need? Too bad. Go watch the show.)

The Valtari Mystery Film
December 9th at 7PM
PHI Centre
407 Saint-Pierre | phi-centre.com