Filmmaker: Charles Olsen

Catarsis / Catharsis by Lilián Pallares

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A 2019 video from the ongoing creative partnership of Colombian poet Lilián Pallares and New Zealand filmmaker and poet Charles Olsen, who wrote:

This was made originally as a book trailer, to capture the essence of Lilián’s latest collection Bestial published in Zaragoza, Spain, by Papeles de Trasmoz, Olifante Editions, 2019. Her collection explores her Afro-Colombian roots and the death of her father. While writing the poems she was taking African dance classes in Madrid and we wanted to capture something of the African influence in this poetry film.

We live in a neighborhood of Madrid with a large migrant population, with people from Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, Morocco, Bangladesh, China, etc., and us (Colombia and New Zealand), and we decided to film this at night in streets with the dancer Marisa Cámara (Guinea-Conakry) and the poet and performer Artemisa Semedo (Galicia/Cape Verde). The music is ‘Zuru’ by the Colombian duo Mitú.

I include Catarsis in my Poesía sin fronteras program exploring translation, otherness, identity and death in cinepoetry from across the Americas, which by the way is available for public screening anywhere in the world — whenever such a thing becomes possible again. In the meantime, you can watch all the films here.

Cuerpos de Agua (Water Bodies) by Lilián Pallares

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Half videopoem, half music video, this new film from antenablue — director Charles Olsen and poet Lilián Pallares — features Pallares acting and supplying the voiceover together with a musical arrangement of her poem by Nestor Paz and Manuel Madrid from Poesía Necesaria. Be sure to click the closed captioning (CC) icon to access Olsen’s English translation.

Y sonó la alarma / And the alarm rang by Lilián Pallares

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Columbian poet Lilián Pallares is an actress with considerable charisma in this entertaining film-poem by New Zealand director Charles Olsen (Antena Blue). The use of silent-movie-style intertitles for Pallares’ text necessitates separate videos for the Spanish and English versions, but it’s worth it, I think, for the way it accentuates the manic, comic style. Spanish composer and pianist Pablo Rubén Maldonado contributed an original composition for the soundtrack.

El sueño del árbol (The tree’s dream) by Lilián Pallares

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A videopoem by Charles Olsen (Antena Blue), intended as a trailer for the book from which the text is sourced: Pájaro, vértigo (Editorial Huerga & Fierro, 2014) by the Colombian writer Lilián Pallares. Be sure to click on the CC (closed captioning) icon to read Olsen’s English translation. The guitar music in the soundtrack is by Quique Meléndez.

Libro de huellas (The Book of Traces) by Ángel Guinda

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I’m tethering my life
so the storm doesn’t escape me.

To think
costs the unthinkable.

A series of gnomic pronouncements, as if in response to an unseen interrogator, accompany shots of the poet’s visible traces: his identity papers, fingerprints, and typewritten words. Ángel Guinda stars in this gem of a book trailer, the work of Charles Olsen, a New Zealander currently residing in Spain, and the production company Antena Blue. (Be sure to click the CC icon on the lower right to read the subtitles—a very good English translation.)

This was one of two Olsen/Antena Blue films selected for screening at ZEBRA this year. Olsen wrote about his experience at ZEBRA for the big idea/te aria nui.

The second film poem, included in the section “Wracking Your Brains” – our preoccupations with the past, doubts and spiritual unrest – was a piece we made for the Spanish poet Ángel Guinda, “Libro de Huellas” (The Book of Traces) where, in a series of striking aphorisms, he reflects on memory, religion, and power.

[…]

I began making film poems using my own poetry and that of my wife, the Colombian writer Lilián Pallares, with whom I direct the production company Antena Blue, “The observed word”. There is a great freedom to explore all the aspects of the image, sound, text, words, narrative, pace, and as a poet-filmmaker it is not necessarily the poem that has to come first. It may be an image or a personal story that lends itself to a poetic treatment later inspiring the text or a filmmaker may piece together fragments of dialogues, sounds and images to create a collage of words and images.

Read the rest.