Filmmaker: Sivan Kotek

Common Room by Talia Randall

This animation of a poem by UK artist and performance poet Talia Randall was one of the 29 competition films (selected from among 770 submissions) at the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival last October. It’s also a staff pick at Vimeo, where it’s amassed more than 58 thousand plays. Here’s the description at Randall’s website:

The Common Room Animation Project is a collaboration between 13 animators, based on Talia Randall’s spoken-word poem Common Room. Each of the animators chose a segment of the poem that inspired them the most, and brought their own unique style, technique and interpretation to the poem.

The film has been shown at film festivals and events across the world including Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Russia, America and the UK.

The animators are (in order of appearance) Yael Ozsinay, Nir Philosof, Maayan Moreno Erlich, Shimi Asresay, Inabl Breda, Noa Evron, Inbal Ochyon, Yuzefovic Valery, Dekel Oved, Adva Rodan, Dan Berger, Sivan Kotek and Tal Rachmin.

(Click through to read the text.) Watching this again, I’m even more impressed than I was the first time I saw it, on the big screen in Berlin. It’s like a master class in poetry animation; very few of the quite distinct segments veer too close to literal illustration. Instead, they each expand upon the text in a different way, yet somehow we are not distracted from the poem’s argument and music. And it’s the sort of poem that really benefits from this kind of treatment, having a strong message and a fairly discursive style. Had it been denser and more allusive in the manner of much contemporary lyric poetry, I don’t think it would’ve so easily permitted the animators’ imaginations to run riot. In effect, they are supplying much of the allusive power here, in a sort of conversation among artists that makes the whole succeed as something greater than the sum of its parts: a true videopoem or filmpoem, in other words, and not merely a poetry film.