Filmmaker: Ebele Okoye

Die liebe in den Zeiten der EU / Love in the age of the EU by Björn Kuhligk (Part 2)

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As mentioned in Part 1, for the 2014 ZEBRA festival, filmmakers were challenged to make a film using a text by the young German poet Björn Kuhligk, with an English translation provided by Catherine Hales. The ZEBRA programme committee chose three best films; these are the other two — both animations, conceived and directed by the animators themselves.

Susanne Wiegner says about her film (above),

The film starts with a peaceful, blue sea scenery full of hope and light. The recitation of the poem begins, that describes in a very drastic way the treatment of the boat refugees by the European Union.
The sea scenery becomes dark and hostile and ends up in front of a wall. The ear-deafening noise of helicopters resounds.The camera pans upwards and one realizes that the walls were built by the European emblem and the whole scenery turns into the European flag. The helicopters disappears, the Fortress Europe “was defended successfully” once again.

The heraldic description of the European flag given by The Council of Europe is:
“Against the blue sky of the Western world, the stars represent the peoples of Europe in a circle, a symbol of unity. Their number shall be invariably set at twelve, the symbol of completeness and perfection…Just like the twelve signs of the zodiac represent the whole universe, the twelve gold stars stand for all peoples of Europe – including those who cannot as yet take part.”
Council of Europe. Paris, 7–9 December 1955

Ebele Okoye’s animation, produced in Germany with the support of Shrinkfish media studios in Abuja, Nigeria, is the stand-out interpretation for me. Okoye’s summary reads:

Sometimes, we are like marionettes in the hands of those whom we have either consciously or
unconsciously chosen to please.
A visual adaptation of the poem “Die Liebe in den Zeiten der EU” by Björn Kuhligk.

In addition to the nicely oblique relationship between images and text, I thought the interplay of spoken and whispered lines worked brilliantly.

[meine heimat] by Ulrike Almut Sandig (5)

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A Berlin-centric reimagining of Sandig’s poem by Nigerian-German animator Ebele Okoye. Her description of the film at Vimeo is unusually complete; here’s most of the first half (minus production notes, credits and such):

Berlin Tempelhof, years after 2017: an old woman in the face of advanced recreational activities at the old
airport grounds confusedly recalls her growing-up years and life in a post war Berlin.

The old Tempelhof Airport, one of Europe’s iconic pre-world war II airports ceased operating in 2008. Since then it is being used for recreational activities like windsurfing, kiting etc.
However, before the Airport was built in the mid twenties, it was a vast farmland which played a big role in the life of the inhabitants of Tempelhof. It was the center of their sunday recreational activities which included dog-races etc.

Today, in 2012, the city of Berlin plans to restructure the landscape of the old airport ground and install very modern recreational facilities and one of these is a hill (hence the interpretation of the “bird man” sport)
So conclusively, only MOSTLY people from Berlin will be able to understand it beyond the presented visual abstract, thus making this remain predominantly a Berlin-related interpretation.

An Anna Blume (To Anna Flower) by Kurt Schwitters

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“An Anna Blume,” says the Wikipedia, is “a poem written by the German artist Kurt Schwitters in 1919. It has been described as a parody of a love poem, an emblem of the chaos and madness of the era, and as a harbinger of a new poetic language.” This film adaptation, a German-Bulgarian production, won the the Ritter-Sport Prize at the 5th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2010. Here’s the description at Vimeo:

Anna Blume is a visual poetry about the lust of a man chasing a woman. The story takes on surreal journey dictated by the mind of the poet. Lust and ingestion, disguised in love, drive the two characters to an end where love turns to be a very lonesome and strange place. The film is based on and inspired by the emblematic love poem from 1919 “An Anna Blume” by Kurt Schwitters.

director Vessela Dantcheva
art director Ivan Bogdanov
screenplay Vessela Dantcheva & Ebele Okoye
main animator Ebele Okoye
music composer Petar Dundakov
sound designer Emil Iliev
compositing & edit Ivan Bogdanov
storyboard & layouts Vessela Dantcheva
produced by Ebele Okoye & FINFILM
supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung & National Film Center