A new poetry film from the Taiwanese filmmaker Ye Mimi is always an event. This one features a musical adaptation of a poem by Yin Ni from singer-songwriter Lo Sirong, performed with Gomoteu. The English translation in subtitles is by David Chen. Here’s the Vimeo description:
This experimental music video is based on a poem that both satirizes and celebrates local culture in Taiwan. “Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk,” the title of both the song and the poem, is a play on the Buddhist phrase “Hail the Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.” The poem refers to local junk vendors, who repeatedly call out “sell them to me” as they walk from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for unwanted household items, typically scrap metal, tools and electronics.
*List of screenings:
The Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival, Malaysia
7th Cairo Video Festival, Egypt
Experimenta–8th International Festival of Moving Image Art in India, Bangalore
A poem by Yin Ni
Music by Lo Sirong
Performed by Lo Sirong and Gomoteu
Filmed and edited by Ye Mimi
In North America and Western Europe, we tend to think of street poetry as this gritty, youth-driven, hyper-competitive and aggressive thing, but in most parts of the world, the streets and markets are wellsprings of a much more diverse and mature oral culture, and I think this filmpoem captures that brilliantly. Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk offers a unique glimpse into popular Buddhism and Taiwanese vernacular culture, and manages to seem simultaneously light-hearted and profound in a manner reminiscent of Erasmus or Rabelais.
I was first introduced to the term ‘poetry film’ at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Taipei. As a poet, I knew right away that was the kind of video work I would like to do. In 2007, I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study filmmaking and to continue experimenting with the relationship between poetry and film. To me, making a poetry film is like weaving. It doesn’t prevent me from being a poet. Instead, my poems grow with my films simultaneously. I always write something first before I go out to collect images, but everything is still unclear and improvised when I am shooting. During the editing stage, I like to collage the images. Afterwards, I always write something based on the images and then collage the images more. In other words, my images and text feed each other rather than feed on each other.
She goes on to talk about the specific ways this process played out here, and about the Taiwanese Daoist pilgrimage shownd in the film — do go read it. She concludes:
If someone asks me what my creative process looks like, I would say, ‘It’s like directing a group of electric jellyfish sneaking into a tilt tower to rub together. They could become a sunny day, a fever, a humming song, or a glass of Bloody Mary, which … I never know.’
We experience a lot of poems as a record of real life. Through the specific Taiwanese backdrop, the poetry film illustrates a series of moments to approach the concept of time, which is not as concrete as we are taught. As a poet, the filmmaker presents her ideas on the nature of reality, existence, what is there and what is not there.
The acting credits include God, the poet’s grandma, and many others. According to one online bio, Ye has an MFA in filmmaking (from the Art Institute of Chicago) as well as an MFA in writing.