Director Tova Beck-Friedman calls this “A cine-poem about the space between suffering and life lived. It’s also about survival and the unforgotten pain.” Dancer Juliet Neidish’s interpretation of the poem, choreographed by Beck-Friedman, is juxtaposed with archival footage for maximum emotional effect.
Susan Rich is the poet, and I was stunned to read an open letter on her blog detailing how the film was commissioned by the Visible Poetry Project and then censored at the very last moment, apparently for being insufficiently pious about the Holocaust! An astonishing and outrageous decision. All the more reason to share it here, then, of course (though I’d intended to anyway, before I’d read Rich’s post). I’ve been happy to see it getting well-deserved attention on social media, as well. As Rich notes in her open letter,
If there were ever a time to support each other, that time is now. The best art pushes and challenges us to the point of discomfort.
ON THE OTHER SIDE is a portrait of an aging woman as her “youngness” slips away. Based on a poem by Natalie H. Rogers, the film interweaves voice, animation and music to lay bare the essence of a woman’s vanishing youth; her aging process is irrevocable revealing a deeply fragile and touching reality.
The three narrators are Avis Boone, Duvall O’Steen, and Natalie H. Rogers. Their repetition of lines wouldn’t work for every poetry film, but it’s a good fit for this poem’s disbelieving, incredulous tone.