Nationality: Germany

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

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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.

[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):

SYNOPSIS
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.

BACKGROUND
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.

[meine heimat] by Ulrike Almut Sandig (4)

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(English subtitles)

(German subtitles)

This film interpretation of Sandig’s poem was made in Mexico by Stephanie Brewster, with a Spanish translation by Aram Vidal in the soundtrack. Heimat is translated as patria, homeland. I like everything about this except for the inclusion of piano music.