For the 2012 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, filmmakers were challenged to make a film using a text and reading by the German poet Ulrike Almut Sandig: “[meine heimat]” (“[my home/homeland/native land]”). In all, they received 33 films from 13 countries. Some of them are up on the web, but to date I’ve only shared one, the entry by Belgian filmmaker Swoon (Marc Neys). This week I’ll be posting a few others I like. (Some are fairly long, so it didn’t make sense to cram them all into one post as I did for “A Westray Prayer.”) The animation above is by the always wonderful Susanne Wiegner, who notes:
[meine heimat] is a poem by Ulrike Almut Sandig, that describes a space of memories or a landscape, that is not clearly defined.
“Heimat” is a very special German word, that can’t be translated into other languages, because it means as well a specific place, as a certain landscape or an abstract feeling. During the Third Reich in Germany, the word “Heimat” was barbarously and fanatically glorified and misused with the result that many people lost their “Heimat” and their lives.
In the video a picture of a concentration camp is projected on the letters of the words [meine heimat] blended with a train ride through my own homeland that reminds also of the terrible deportations to show the ambiguity, that you feel as a German when you think about your “Heimat”.
William Shum says about his film,
A short excerpt from Kurt Schwitters sound poem, “Ursonate”. The typeface was created from scratch and inspired by the “Merz” art Schwitters created, hence the name, “Merzy”.
This may be the first example of a typeface invented for a videopoem.
The Wikipedia article on Kurt Schwitters includes a paragraph on Ursonate:
Schwitters composed and performed an early example of sound poetry, Ursonate (1922–32; a translation of the title is Original Sonata or Primeval Sonata). The poem was influenced by Raoul Hausmann’s poem “fmsbw” which Schwitters heard recited by Hausmann in Prague, 1921. Schwitters first performed the piece on 14 February 1925 at the home of Irmgard Kiepenheuer in Potsdam. He subsequently performed it regularly, both developing and extending it. He published his notations for the recital in the last Merz periodical in 1932, although he would continue to develop the piece for at least the next ten years.
“An Anna Blume,” says the Wikipedia, is “a poem written by the German artist Kurt Schwitters in 1919. It has been described as a parody of a love poem, an emblem of the chaos and madness of the era, and as a harbinger of a new poetic language.” This film adaptation, a German-Bulgarian production, won the the Ritter-Sport Prize at the 5th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2010. Here’s the description at Vimeo:
Anna Blume is a visual poetry about the lust of a man chasing a woman. The story takes on surreal journey dictated by the mind of the poet. Lust and ingestion, disguised in love, drive the two characters to an end where love turns to be a very lonesome and strange place. The film is based on and inspired by the emblematic love poem from 1919 “An Anna Blume” by Kurt Schwitters.
director Vessela Dantcheva
art director Ivan Bogdanov
screenplay Vessela Dantcheva & Ebele Okoye
main animator Ebele Okoye
music composer Petar Dundakov
sound designer Emil Iliev
compositing & edit Ivan Bogdanov
storyboard & layouts Vessela Dantcheva
produced by Ebele Okoye & FINFILM
supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung & National Film Center
Departing from the usual relationship between poetry and animation in which the latter illustrates the former, this animation may be said to exist in dynamic tension or conversation with the text and music. The director, Michael Fragstein of Büro Achter April, told me in an email that his animation came first, and the German-Congolese jazz singer Lisa Tuyula wrote her spoken-word composition in response, following which Marc Fragstein wrote the music that ties it all together.
While I think this was intended more as a music video than a poetry video, the ekphrastic approach is one that poets and animators ought to consider experimenting with.
A very successful example of a poem used as dialogue between characters in a familiar movie set-up — a surprisingly uncommon tactic for videopoem makers. This was uploaded to YouTube by the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival folks, who solicited it for this year’s festival:
For the 6th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Polish film makers Maciek Majewski, Łukasz Twarkowski and Wiola Sowa have collaborated with German poets Norbert Hummelt, Nico Bleutge and Christian Filips to make film versions of poems of theirs. Together they chose the poems and worked on turning them into scripts. In the run-up to the festival the pairs of artists were meeting up in Berlin to turn their ideas into films within six days. The short films that have been created in this way were premièred in the fesival. This is Maciek Majewski’s film-version of Norbert Hummelt’s poem “Syrinx”.
The translation is by Christina Hales and the poet, who is also known for his translations.
Directed and produced by Jan Walentek, this was shown at the 2010 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin. There’s also a version in German: