Thursday, August 23, 2007

Beirut Video Posts Galore

Beirut's new video for "Postcards From Italy" from the Gulag Orkestar album has been blazing a trail throughout the online community. Check out the latest jazz from a few esteemed websites & blogs.

**Beirut on Video Static:
"There are really only three kinds of home movies worth watching: 1) Those featuring your own family; 2) Those featuring somebody extraordinarily famous or interesting; and 3) Those featuring spectacular groin injuries that Bob Saget shows you on lonely evenings. That's the essential problem when bands release music videos that are essentially nothing more than home movies synced up to a song. Unless it propels some already established personality or mystique, the video can come across as nothing more than an exercise in lazy narcissism. Director Alma Har'el and her cohort Zach Condon —frontman of Beirut — take a different tack on the form, elevating it to the level of an art project. "Postcards From Italy" consists of footage with Condon and his girlfriend — shot in and around the Har'el's Los Angeles home — that's doctored to be nearly indistinguishable from clips taken off archival home movie reels that the director has purchased over the years at various yard sales and the like. The activities depicted range from simple and beautiful to exotic and desperate, leaving little doubt which films are personal memory tokens and which were meant to impress an audience. As Pitchfork correctly pointed out in their debut of the clip: It's all kind of sad, especially when you realize that these are literally memories that have been sold on the curbside along with other unwanted goods"

**Beirut's premiere on Pitchfork

**Video of the day on "The daily tube" Youtube:
"If you were to distill your very best memories -- and everyone else's best memories -- and create a video montage of them all, it might look something like this. Beirut's music video for "Postcards From Italy" is beautiful and sweet and touching and...and...well it's a video about happiness! The nostalgia is all the more amazing when you consider Beirut's front man, Zach Condon, is only 21"

**Beirut on 'Boards screening room:
"Partizan's Alma Har'el splices together old home movies with original Super 8 footage in this beautiful promo for Beirut."

**Beirut on Twentyseven Views:
"With all of the hoopla over Beirut's music video for "Elephant Gun," it was forgotten as to what got the world swooning over this Beirut madness, "Postcards From Italy." Beginning with it's gentle Ukulele strokes and then lullaby vocal harmonies, it made you drift away into a hazy dream. The second collaboration with Alma Harel brings out a completely different vibe to the video. Using family and possibly random footage, there is an almost surreal dream like feel to the video. Even with the ukulele and horns and percussion parading in the background, the film feels quiet and at times like a perfect memory trying to be grasped."

**Beirut on Kids pushing Kids:
"Zach Condon, aka Beirut, will release the follow up to his gorgeous debut Gulag Orkestar (and Lon Gisland EP) on October 9. Weirdly enough, Beirut has just released the video to "Postcards from Italy," a single from the first album. It's directed by Alma Har'El, the same director behind his clip for "Elephant Gun." The video for "Postcards from Ital" matches the nostalgic feel of the LP artwork. The clips seemlessly mixes what looks like 1950s home movies with footage of Condon and his girlfriend (?). Their footage looks to be on Super 8 film, and they wear vintage clothing to match the look of the older clips. It's not as compelling or sexy as the "Elephant Gun" clip, but fits the tone of the track perfectly."

**Beirut on And The Ass Saw The Angel:
"This clip has been compiled of Super 8-images from family archives, which the owners have sold on eBay, by director Alma Ha'rel. Beautiful !!!"

** Beirut on Furrowed Brow Smile:
"Another spectacular bit of Beirut visual magic... this one is a new video for an old song, the mesmerizing, uke-led "Postcards from Italy". If you like the intimacy of viewing other people's old Super 8 home movies, this one's a keeper. Kinda moving too. Most of the footage is archival and some of it is recent of Zach himself (including getting a skateboarding raspberry)."

** Beirut & interview with Alma Har'el on Shots Ring Out:

"It's one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a while and all I
wanted was to try and keep it company." - Alma Har'el

It's been a bit since we've had a visit from our dear old friend Alma
Har'el, and ever the sweetheart, she's gone and brought us a fresh
slice of her newest Beirut pie for an oldie but goody, "Postcards from
Italy". Its a timeless companion piece to add to her previous work for
"Elephant Gun". Blending the past and the present and running it
through her distinct vintage filter, Mrs. Har'el shows us not only how
far we've come, but also how very much the same we are. Once again we
had a nice little chat with her about the video, the beauty of our
memories, and as always she gave us her advice on the certain outfit
that drives the ladies wild. So strap in for a timeless ride forward
into the past and don't worry, where we're going we won't need roads.

SRO: What did you set out to achieve with this video?

Alma: I've been collecting home movies on Super 8 and used some of
them in a music video I did for Taylor Hawkins but I felt they
deserved more attention, I wanted to preserve those memories so
they're not lost. Zach's song was a perfect match. I sent him a little
clip I edited from some of the footage and he loved it more than I
expected. "Postcards" is such a nostalgic song and it has that
bittersweet feeling we have when we experience beauty and intimacy and
know it will pass like everything else does. It's one of the most
beautiful songs I've heard in a while and all I wanted was to try and
keep it company.

After Zach saw the test I did with the footage he wanted to keep it
simple. He didn't want to add any gimmicky transitions between the
real footage and the new footage we were shooting with him and
Kristianna. I think he was right to want that.

SRO: So it seems you pretty much ransacked the different home videos
from your collection and spliced them together with recent footage of
Zach. Is this true?

Alma: Almost true. The footage was all bought from different families
on e-bay. I think they were getting rid of it because it was taking a
lot of space so they transferred it to tapes and sold the film. Some
people passed away and left boxes of Super 8 reels in their homes and
nobody wanted to start watching it. I was collecting these movies for
a while and I contacted the sellers and asked them if they would agree
to let me use a few seconds from them for a music video. After they
gave me their written permission I set out to watch hours of silent
movies. It was beautiful and some times very disturbing. It's so

SRO: Were those movies from other parts of the world? How old are some of them?

Alma: They are mostly from American families between the 40's and the
70's. They are from all over the country.

SRO: What did you do to make Zach's portions look antique? Was it the
camera or was it post effects?

Alma: We shot it on a Super 8 camera. I tried to shoot mostly wide
shots. I noticed most people were shooting their families that way
since it was a new format and people were treating it like a still
camera. Ghost Town Media did the post for it. They added a layer of
real film scratches and made the colors more saturated and contrast.
They're great and they have a new studio with couches you can fall
asleep on while the computer is rendering.

SRO: Nice, that should totally be one of their selling points. One of
my favorite parts is when the music plays to the black-faced people
dancing. That seemed a little risky to use, although to me it played
gorgeously. Was this tough to use or was it a perfect fit from the get

Alma: It was a hard decision to make but I thought it was an important
part of the whole and it should stay. I was showing people's memories
and moments that they thought were beautiful, you can't argue with
that, it's the painful side of memory. A moment you thought is
beautiful gets a whole new ugly meaning after time took it's toll on
The video has other moments like that, the little girl whose mother
grabs her face so she will look at the camera, the dad teaching his
little daughter to hold a gun, and the soldiers marching.
It's interesting because even if the person who filmed the black-faced
people was racist or ignorant, he was still a person with a camera who
looked at the world. We'll never know who he was and why he filmed it
- the beauty of that is shocking because it's so sad.

SRO: Okay, what's the story with Zach and the skateboard. Did he
really hurt himself? If so, do you know what he was trying to do when
it happened? Did that happen during filming as well?

Alma: Oh yes, he hurt himself pretty bad and I can't tell you what he
was trying to do because it's a stunt that was never done before. I
don't want other people to get hurt while trying to do it!

SRO: Forever a mystery. When last you left us, we were planning an
elephant nose trend. Now this time you've left us with playing the
piano/instrument in a white undershirt, tucked in to tighty whitey
underwear and capped off with white socks. Is this what the ladies dig
these days? Will Zach adopt this trend for his stage show?

Alma: I recommend combining the underwear with the elephant nose for
real results with the ladies.

SRO: In Paris Hilton's own words "That's Hot." So young lady what have
you got in store for us in the future?

Alma: A few weeks ago I finished a music video for "Bajofondo - Tango
Club". It's a band lead by the composer Gustavo Santaolalla. He won
the Oscars for his scores on the movies Babel and Brokeback Mountain
and now he has a record coming out. It's an electronic Tango and has a
lot of guest artists and cool collaborations. You can see some photos
from the set on my Myspace page, but it will only come out next year.

Right now I'm directing the second unit on a feature film called
"Death in Love". My husband wrote it and he's directing it so we are
working together and I get to learn a lot. He's a great boss.

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