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A large island nation off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar is at once resource rich, highly biodiverse and poverty stricken. It has more endemic species than the whole of Africa, but according to USAID, it is also ‘the poorest non-conflict country on Earth, with 92 per cent of people living on less than $2/day’. In 2009, an uprising and subsequent military coup left the country in a state of disarray and largely isolated from the international community. While elections in 2013 relieved some political tensions, the country’s society and economy are still scarred by years of upheaval, with smuggling operations and other illicit trades operating largely unchecked. This innovative short made in 2013 by the UK filmmaker Toby Smith uses motion-tracking graphics to explore the legal and illegal corners of Madagascar’s economy, reflecting the entanglements between development and conservation, exploitation and luxury.
Watch the elegant flow of a sheep herd, seen from the sky above Israel
How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journey
Emergency first responders meet chaos with dissonant calm in this gripping short
The ancient world
Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis
When two punk bands came to a psychiatric hospital, beautiful chaos ensued
Design and fashion
Gear up for a stylish celebration of vintage motorcycle design
The ancient world
A balanced account of Nero’s life reveals the ‘editing and destruction’ of history-making
An ode to the humble rotifer – one of nature’s simplest and strangest creatures
Film and visual culture
Shoddy filmmaking meets the miracle of life in a police training film turned cult classic