Nationality: Germany

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.

Elephant by Sina Seiler

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Sina Seiler of sinasan Film und Medienkunst (sinasan Film & Mediaart) is both filmmaker and author here. According to her description on Vimeo,

The Poetry Film is based on the poem “Elephant” by Sina Seiler and visualizing inner rooms, what the poem is expressing by words metaphorically. “Elephant” expresses an inner transformation of the protagonist caused by the encounter of love. The self as a house, every room representing feelings and moods of subconsciousness.

The protagonist is dancing through inner rooms, illustrating sequences of dream, expressing feelings and moods.

It was screened at ZEBRA last month (among other screenings, listed on the sinasan website) as part of the Dreiklang Dimensionen/Triadic Dimensions program of poetry films that incorporate dance and music, and it fits nicely into the Dance category here. I didn’t get to meet Seiler in person, but her bio is an interesting one:

Sina Seiler studied Media and Journalism with focus on documentary filmmaking & TV at international University of Tuebingen, Germany with a stipend in Film at DAMS / University of the Arts, Theatre and Film at Bologna, Italy. She graduated with a Diploma/Master and a Oral History Documentary about the Saxons in Romania.

She works as a writer, filmmaker, lecturer and artist.

The dancer is Soraya Schulthess.

Die liebe in den Zeiten der EU / Love in the age of the EU by Björn Kuhligk (Part 1)

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker: ,

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. According to the program, “23 film makers from ten countries followed the call. Thirteen of the films have been selected for the festival.”

UK filmmaker Maciej Piatek‘s take on the poem was judged one of three best films of the contest. (I’ll share the other two, by Ebele Okoye and Susanne Wiegner, in Part 2 next week.) It includes a voiceover by Lisa Luxx and music by Dominic Rattray. In the Vimeo description, Piatek writes:

We, Europeans have tendency to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, the EU is almost like a green island in the ocean of poverty. Sometimes our prosperity makes us blind even though we’re going through financial crisis, economy is only a part of the problem. The biggest challenge for the EU is to face the crisis of values, the same values which founded EU such as: “..respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities … “. This short video poem’s trying to visualize the state of mind of an illegal immigrant on its way to “freedom” through fear and despair.

Belgian filmmaker Swoon (Marc Neys) included Kuhligk’s reading in the soundtrack. One simple, powerful visual concept carries the filmpoem. In addition to the ZEBRA screening, it was also screened at the 5th West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival.

One more film from the screening has been shared on Vimeo, but cannot be shown here due to embedding restrictions. Mexican director Alex Saavedra‘s film is a complex narrative with several twists and turns.

Karawane by Hugo Ball

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This may be the least poetic poetry video I’ve ever posted here, but I found it oddly compelling and hypnotic. It’s a translation of a Dadaist poem into binary code by Lucas Battich, who writes:

‘Karawane’ is a poem written and performed by Hugo Ball in 1916, and it consists of meaningless words and sounds. Ball was one of the founders of Dada, and the poem was first read in the newly opened Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
The sound on this version consists of a voiceover-software reading of the poem in its binary code form. This film shows what becomes of a poem, even one that is nonsensical, anarchic, when we put it through the technologies that we now take for granted.
Can you translate nonsense? For the poem to get online, it went through a few changes. It did become translated somehow. The actual poem became a surface with something behind, some thing added that it didn’t have before, and something that is still language and can be read. By software.

For Ball’s original text, see Poets.org, which includes a vigorous reading by Christian Bök.

Melancholia by Jacob Balde

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A videopoem with a decidedly neo-classical feel by German filmmaker Patrick Müller, who sets it up in the Vimeo description as follows:

MELANCHOLIA (Melancholie/Melancholy) A short silent film by Patrick Müller after the poem by German Latinist Jacob Balde (1604–1668). This film was entirely shot in Ingolstadt, Germany, where Balde was a professor of rhetoric from 1635. He was widely known as the “German Horaz”.

(Horaz = Horace.) The attention and care Müller brought to the project even extended to the credits, where he had the filming details translated into Latin — a nice touch. For more on Balde, see the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Contemplating Hell by Bertolt Brecht

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Brecht’s poem assembled and disassembled line by line in a hypnotic videopoem by the UK-based Polish video artist Maciej Piatek and F_F_P, with music by Karol Wyszynski. In the description at Vimeo, he notes:

In the world of coming from and going to nowhere, we are living in bi-polar reality in which the gap between what’s right and what’s wrong between hell & heaven is getting bigger, thus our life becomes more uncertain. These blended ideas & images are creating chaos and making us lonely. The only solution is to stop and contemplate, contemplate heaven or go to hell.
The movie had its official premiere at Bates Mill, Huddersfield as a part of the multi-arts event ,,Hope,,

(found via London Poetry Systems)

[meine heimat] by Ulrike Almut Sandig (6)

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A film by Beate Kunath and Marlen Pelny of b-k productions in Germany. The synopsis on YouTube, rendered into English with the help of Google Translate, says something to the effect of

Where is home when she feels nowhere? For some, searching and finding the home is an evolving process, not a self-evident accessory from birth.

This is probably the last film adaptation of Sandig’s poem I’ll be sharing here, though there are certainly some others online that also have points to recommend them. Challenging filmmakers to work with a supplied text does make for an interesting contest; we even did it at Moving Poems back in 2011, with a poem by Howie Good (contest winners here and here). But such an approach tends to favor the merely illustrative, as I think we’ve seen this week with the difficulty filmmakers have had escaping the orbit of the text’s avian imagery. I would instead encourage festival organizers to consider the opposite sort of contest: supply a couple of minutes of footage and challenge filmmakers and writers to make a videopoem out of it. The results would likely be much more varied.