An at-times quite literal but nevertheless thoroughly entertaining videopoem from bagadefente, “a brazilian self-taught multimedia artist, who creates works in several languages & media, specially video, writing & prints, using Chance and Chaos as its main creative tools.” I liked the use of text-on-screen, and the soundtrack by Dael Vasques was another favorite element (I’m a sucker for banjo music), but mostly I just liked the quirky, improvisational feel. And I see I’m not alone: According to the Vimeo description, it was screened in most of the major poetry-film festivals last year.
Cindy St. Onge calls this “a video remix dirge.” To me, it’s political remix videopoetry done right: responsive to the political moment yet aesthetically balanced and restrained, and highly imaginative in its juxtaposition of image and text (from a first aid manual). St. Onge includes just long enough of a clip from the cellphone video of a dying Philando Castile for the content to register with the viewer, but not so much that it seems disrespectful or exploitative, I think.
An author-made videopoem from 2008 by Israeli filmmaker Sharon Lenger, offering “Brief glimpses into residential apartments in Tel-Aviv. An attempt to breathe in the life that is there, and feel slightly at home,” according to the description in the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival’s 2010 archive, where it was part of a program called “Poetic Tel Aviv.” In addition to ZEBRA, the video has been shown in galleries and at festivals around the world, winning first prize in the “Life into Art” show at the Pen and Brush gallery, New York, and second prize at EMERGEANDSEE 2011, Berlin.
An author-made videopoem by Saba Riazi, a young Iranian filmmaker who divides her time between Tehran and Brooklyn. The music and sound design are by Bahar Royayi. To see more of Riazi’s very personal, idiosyncratic work, check out the videopoems page on her website. Her statement at the head of that page is worth quoting in full, so that perhaps other filmmakers in her situation will feel inspired to follow her example:
To us NYU film graduates, high production values are almost equal to ethics and principles. After three and a half years of having “Ice cream” my first feature in post production I realized I have lost “time” waiting for finances to come to be able to finish Ice cream. This has been the issue for many of my colleagues who wanted to make REAL MOVIES. So I decided, in the meantime I will shoot my life on my iphone or Canon 70D as I go, when I can and where I can and I will try to finish up weekly or biweekly video projects, freestyle, almost in form of a poem. You might notice sound pops, imperfect cuts and abstract narratives in these pieces and although those are conscious and some intentional, the only reason I make these videos is that they actually make me happy. They are very personal creative projects and they give me a chance to express myself and exercise my craft, without worrying about industry standards and three act structure and so on and so forth. [link added]
This video produced for Voluble incorporates two stylistically distinct, musically compelling video remixes for poems by Tarfia Faizullah, “Feast or Famine” and “Love Poem Ending with the Eye of a Needle.” Faizullah notes in a YouTube comment that
this was a result of a collaboration between me, emcee and producer Brooklyn Shanti, and tabla player and activist Robin Sukhadia. The film for the second poem is sampled from Sita Sings the Blues, an animated film that the director made available through Creative Commons. The footage for the first is tourist footage of Bangladesh.
An author-made videopoem by the Tucson, Arizona-based poet Richard Siken. As with his first videopoem, Why, this does double-duty as a music video for the French singer Marianne Dissard, though this time it’s an instrumental: “Fondre”, off the album L’Abandon (2010), composed by Christian Ravaglioli. Click through to Vimeo for the full credits and the text of the poem.
Another author-made videopoem recently published by Voluble, this time from the enormously talented poet and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Click through to listen to her artist’s statement, where she explains that “‘S’ is the first piece in a trilogy of videos that engage Audre Lorde’s poem The Black Unicorn.” Her discussion of the relationship between audio and video, hearing and seeing in her creation of the video is absolutely fascinating.
This concludes this week’s focus on videopoems or poetry films made solely by the poet her- or himself. Over the years I’ve shared many such videos, and Matt Mullins put together an annotated gallery of Ten Notable Single-Author Videopoems to showcase some of the best. There are many more examples of films that emerge from active collaborations between the poet and the filmmaker. I hadn’t planned this as a promotion for the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, which alone among poetry film and videopoetry festivals requires the poet to have been directly involved in making the video, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that their deadline for submissions is coming up on July 1. (Which happens also to to be the deadline for the 2016 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival.)