A poem by the Spanish poet Ángel Guinda in a film interpretation by Sándor M. Salas of Anandor Producciones. Mohsen Emadi provided the English translation used in the subtitles, and the music is by Anacinta Alonso. I shared another Guinda/Salas collaboration back in 2014, but was reminded about this one by a share at the The Film & Video Poetry Society Facebook page — currently one of the most popular and active alternatives to Moving Poems for a steady stream of good poetry videos. (They’re also on Twitter, for the Facebook-phobic.)
Szymborska’s most widely anthologized poem in a film interpretation by Pat van Boeckel, using footage shot on Sado Island, Japan, including (at the very end) a sculpture by Karin van der Molen. The usual English translation by Stanizław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh from View With a Grain of Sand is given as onscreen text, with the poet’s own recitation in the soundtrack. I suppose some might find the images of an abandoned Buddhist temple a bit too obvious here (“great empty halls”, “two thousand years”), but I thought they made a perfect fit. The music is by Max Richter — the very same track van Boeckel used more recently for the documentation of his Rilke-inspired video installation.
Thinking about how the entirely preventable tragedies of the so-called War on Terror unfolded after September 11, 2001, and agonizing about what we might’ve done to stop it, language breaks down. From poet Andrea Assaf and the Art2Action theater group, including video artist Pramila Vasudevan, “Eleven Reflections on September” is
a poetry/spoken word, multimedia performance on Arab American experience, Wars on/of Terror, and “the constant, quiet rain of death amidst beauty” that each autumn brings in a post-9/11 world. This production is based on the series of poems Andrea Assaf has been writing since 2001, spanning the fall of the towers, the on-going wars, and the current revolutions and conflicts sweeping through the Arab world. Aesthetically, the poems explore the disintegration of language in the face of violence, prejudice, and unspeakable horror; as such, they progress from lyrical to abstract and broken. The annual witnessing of autumn leaves becomes a metaphor for the fallen–soldiers and civilians … This multi-disciplinary project includes performances with interactive media design and live music; community dialogues; visual arts exhibits; open mics, panels and opportunities for action through partnerships with Iraq Veterans Against the War and other peace organizations.
The Vimeo description for this video reads:
An excerpt from “Eleven Reflections on September” by Andrea Assaf
Poem # 11: Judgment
Post-script 1: Traveling
Video Art by Pramila Vasudevan.
Sound Design for “Judgment” by Owen Henry & Keegan Fraley.
Choreographic Assignment: Raise me from the dead. From the metaphorical underworld to the heavens. Once you have lifted my body-spirit from the ground, help me travel to the afterlife. Travel with me, and send me on my way.
Cue: After the poem “Judgment” ends (repeating “just stop” 3x), the Daf pulses three times, followed by a chapreez — and the ritual to raise the dead begins. It will continue through the end of “Traveling”.
Movement during the re-mixed/voiceover section of “Judgment”: I am responding to the fragmented, falling, exploding words with my body — torso, arms and head only, while kneeling on the ground. This section is my descent into the underworld, so to speak — or simply my disintegration, from which you will raise/remake me…
A note on “Traveling” — This poem is an English translation of Mohamed Bouazi’s suicide note to his mother, posted on his Facebook page. Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian fruit vendor who quit high school to work and support his mother and sisters, set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, after his wares were confiscated … A fire that sparked the revolution now known as “The Arab Spring”. His last note is pure poetry, his final act pure protest. The poem, by Andrea Assaf, was published by Mizna in the Spring 2012 issue on “Literature in Revolution.”
Visit the Eleven Reflections on September channel on Vimeo to watch other excerpts from the piece, including live performance videos.
Doug Spice directs an adaptation of Wilfred Owen’s classic anti-war poem, written 99 years ago but still (sadly) as relevant as ever, in which a reading of the poem is juxtaposed with a scene of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. There are many, many video adaptations of this poem on the web, but most fall into the trap of too-literal interpretation, and few have anything like the production values of this short film. Let me just paste in the complete description from Vimeo.
In 1917, while recovering from shell shock in a Scottish war hospital, Wilfred Owen wrote “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” considered by many to be the preeminent poem of World War I. Owen was later returned to the front, only to be shot and killed on November 4, 1918 – one week before the end of the war.
Today, 95 years later, tens of thousands of US and NATO troops serve out a 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, and continue to struggle and die against a resilient and determined enemy. Doug Spice’s single-take short film, also entitled “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” adapts Owen’s classic poem to the circumstances of the modern day, and a situation of grief and torment all too many soldiers, families, and friends are once again familiar with.
Director: Doug Spice
Producer: Sonia Pineda
Featuring: Chris Starr, Daniel Haff, Dave “Storm” Huffman, Rob Gruspe, Jake Daniel Kelly, Zak Holman, Clint Slosson
DP/Steadicam Operator: Thom Valko
Camera Assistant: Aaron Bennett
Production Assistant: Alex Igidbashian
Makeup: Rose Lopez
Editor & Sound Editor: Aaron Bennett
Rotoscope Artists: Alex Igidbashian, Rose Lopez
VFX/Compositing: Doug Spice
Music: “Cosmic Wanderings” by Austin Wintory
Special Thanks: Joe Toledo
Production and post-production: Psychic Bunny
“Poetry is the only way to speak during a period of chaos.”
A film adaptation of a poem by the contemporary Iraqi poet Zaher (or Zahir) Mousa produced, directed and filmed by the Scottish/Iranian filmmaker Roxana Vilk, who has built up quite an interesting and varied body of poetry-related work in recent years: bio pics, interviews, and filmpoems, many featuring poets from the Middle East. (I’ll be sharing another example later in the week.) Among other credits, Maryam Gorbankarimi edited, and the sound design is by Peter Vilk with Ilhan Burutcu on the ney. The Scottish poet John Glenday is listed as the main translator, with assistance from Lauren Pyott and James Sandri (who was also the assistant director). The Vimeo description notes:
This film is a result of a commission from Reel Festivals as part of Reel Iraq 2013 and funded by Literature Across Frontiers and the British Council.
Filmed in Shaqlawa and Erbil, Northern Iraq in January 2013.
The plot summary at IMDb calls In the Beginning
an experimental film based on a poem by the acclaimed and award winning Iraqi poet, Zaher Mousa. The poem uses the form of a creation myth and explores the feelings of an Iraqi man living through the realities of life in Baghdad and how the continuing violence and conflicts have affected the way he sees the world around him.
In the Beginning was selected for screening at the 2014 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin. As for Reel Iraq 2013, it was apparently
an overwhelming success and audiences across the UK got a chance to engage directly with Iraqi poets, filmmakers, artists, writers and musicians.
Highlights included workshops in Erbil as part of the Erbil Literature Festival which led to the creation of new translations of Iraqi poets Zaher Mousa, Awezan Nouri, Ghareeb Iskander and Sabreen Kadhim and of Scotland based poets Jen Hadfield, William Letford, John Glenday and Krystelle Bamford. These new translations were performed at venues across the UK.
Musicians Khyam Allami and City of Salt performed to packed venues in Edinburgh and London, and filmmakers Parine Jaddo and Hayder Daffer presented their work in cinemas across the country.
Reel Festivals also commissioned two films based on another poem by Zaher Mousa, “Born to Die,” from filmmakers Alastair Cook and Marc Neys (Swoon). I shared them in a post back in 2013.