The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (3)

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Eliot’s enduring poem of male mid-life crisis gets a proper film treatment from Laura Scrivano and actor Daniel Henshall in A Lovesong, the third interpretation of Prufrock I’ve shared here over the years. The description from Vimeo:

‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’

A solitary man wanders the streets of a city, restless with indecision. As he tumbles down a rabbit hole of seedy dive bars, half deserted streets and shots of whiskey, time fractures – and it seems he might be destined to walk these streets forever.

Shot in New York by director Laura Scrivano, A LOVESONG the first film of THE PASSION series and features actor Daniel Henshall, star of AMC’s TURN: WASHINGTON SPIES and SNOWTOWN. thepassionfilms.com

Exploring Daniel’s fascination with poetry and text and the actor’s relationship to the both script and camera, his film takes as its starting point TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, considered to be one of the founding texts of modernist poetry.

As for the series which it is initiating:

THE PASSION is an ongoing series of intimate short films, capturing some of the world’s most exciting actors in exclusive, commissioned performances, exploring and re-imagining key texts and modes of performance in contemporary settings.

Each edition of THE PASSION is crafted through a creative conversation with the featured actor, with a script being developed based on a classic text or mode of performance of the actor’s choosing.

Pushing the boundaries between cinema, storytelling, poetry, contemporary art and performance, the films will be as original, dazzling and individual as the talents that create them.

The stories THE PASSION will tell, the talents involved, the dramatic themes illuminated and the strength of each individual performance will make THE PASSION a unique and inspirational digital experience.

Usually in poetry film the most relevant collaboration is between a poet and a filmmaker, so this approach of developing scripts in conversation with actors is intriguing (though it doesn’t sound as if all the texts will be poems). A reply to a comment on Vimeo gives additional detail about the process here:

Director Laura and star Dan spent weeks talking about the poem’s possible interpretations, and on adapting the text, before our DOP was brought in to discuss how to render it on film. We were dreaming in Prufrock by the end of it.

Ghazi Hussein: four poems and an interview

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This is I came from the unknown to sing,

a short film about the Palestinian / Scottish Poet Ghazi Hussein
directed by Roxana Vilk camera Ian Dodds, Edited by Maryam Ghorbankarimi and Sound Design and composition by Peter Vilk
Executive produced by Scottish Poetry Library and United Creations Collective
Camera Ian Dodds
Editing Maryam Ghorbankarimi
Sound design and composition Peter Vilk
additional music by GOL

Hussein recites four poems in the film, two in English and two in Arabic: “Next visit,” “I came from the unknown to sing,” “I am an interesting file” and “To Edinburgh,” all from the book Taking it Like a Man: Torture and Survival a Journey in Poetry.

Leaving at Day Break by Catherine Ayres

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This is one of a new series of videopoems by Anglo-Breton poet Claire Trévien — Day Six of the first videopoetry advent calendar of which I’m aware. As with most of the others in the series so far, it presents the poem (this one by Northumbrian poet Catherine Ayres) as text-on-screen accompanying a deft remix of video and audio from the web:

Components:
Two videos, one from Beachfront B rolls: http://beachfrontbroll.com, the other from Justin Jason: https://vimeo.com/57236261
Music is ‘Grass’ by Silent Partner
Sound effects from http://soundbible.com by Mike Koenig and stephan
Collaged together by Claire Trévien

Subscribe to CTrevien on YouTube to follow along as the advent calendar unfolds.

The Multi-Storey Car Park at Trenchard Street by Damon Moore

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A good place-based videopoem by Damon Moore (words) and Kate Moore (film). The YouTube description reads:

In recovery after cancer treatment at Bristol Royal Infirmary, I attended a one-to-one counselling session. Despite being given an all clear, I had entered a prolonged state of sadness that was proving difficult to shake off. My scheduled meeting with the psychiatrist fell flat but returning after the session to Trenchard Street multi-storey car-park, noticing how Bristol streetscapes combined in archaic patterns, I realised how we can unconsciously link long-lost events from the past into a continuous mindscape. This is the ‘Bristol’ referred to at the conclusion of the poem, a metaphor for our tendancy to internalise ‘cities’ of sadness.

Damon indicated in an email that he and Kate have just begun to get into making poetry films. I asked him about their process, and he answered:

Our departure point is the location and we tend to fix where we are going with the edit at an early stage after reviewing the footage. For example, with Trenchard Street, we decided to go with the final long shot so parked that in the last half of the film and then designed speeded-up and staccato sections in the first half to complement. I know there are filmmakers who work out all the details beforehand and I am a big fan of the Billy Collins films which must take a great deal of time to plan, but both Kate and I like to plunge in and get all nitty and gritty.

View more of their films on YouTube.

How Do You Raise A Black Child? by Cortney Lamar Charleston

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Cortney Lamar Charleston’s searing poem, from his forthcoming collection Telepathologies (Saturnalia Books, 2017), is brought to the screen by director Seyi Peter-Thomas, Motionpoems and Station Film:

“This poem is about the precarious balance black parents have to strike in order to raise their kids ‘right,’ ” director Seyi Peter-Thomas says of Lamar Charleston’s piece. “It’s wrenching and thought-provoking.” Seyi’s film perfectly communicates this balance as it follows young Malik and his mother navigating life’s highs and lows. The moments of levity and those of unsolicited sobriety explore the complexity of Malik’s experiences as a part of a larger conversation on race and community within today’s uneasy social and political climate.

Seyi says, “Maybe what’s really being asked is how do we save a black child? And, what are the elements we must save them from? It’s a uniquely American conversation, one we’re all having on some level right now.” He hopes viewers will connect with the humanity in the film and also be prompted to ask and answer some questions of their own.

Motionpoems’ newest season of films are based on poems by black American poets, and presented in association with Cave Canem, a home for black poetry.

View more of Seyi’s work HERE.

For Gasoline by James Brush

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Earlier this week, Spanish filmmakers Javi Zurrón (Myblue Audiovisual) and Eduardo Yagüe simultaneously released these two films based on the same poem by the Texas-based writer James Brush, from his collection of road poetry, Highway Sky. In the Myblue Audiovisual version, Brush’s recitation is in the soundtrack, with Yagüe’s Spanish translation in titling; in his own film, Yagüe reads the translation and the original appears on the screen. In their footage and soundtracks, the two films are completely different but complementary, interpreting the text in a similar manner. Aida Riesgo of Myblue Audiovisual stars in both, and Javi Zurrón is the male actor in Yagüe’s Gasolina.

The romance of the automobile is as old as pop music, but usually it’s some specific hot car or motorcycle, not gasoline itself, that is depicted as an object of desire. These videopoems feel simultaneously new and deeply indebted to the music video tradition, not in the soundtrack but in the iconography (a scene of a rock concert, a Ramones t-shirt, a tattoo, etc.).

Like the blues by Carrie Jenkins and Ray Hsu

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From Marc Neys AKA Swoon, this is his first new videopoem after a year-long break from filmmaking. It was created in collaboration with the Vancouver-based writers Carrie Jenkins and Ray Hsu for the Metaphysics of Love project’s first interdisciplinary workshop. Marc included footage from Dementia 13 (Coppola), Lodewijk van Eekhout and IICADOM, in addition to his own camera work, and composed the music for the soundtrack.

I would encourage all poets to read and think about the Metaphysics of Love’s project summary. An excerpt:

As regards contemporary North American poetry in English, romantic love has fallen out of favour to the extent that attempts to pursue it in professionalized contexts are now somewhat isolated, though it remains a popular topic among poets working outside such contexts. This trend can be traced back to “Modernism”, and to the institutionalization of poetic practice (and Creative Writing as a discipline) in the twentieth century. Canonical love poetries tend to be derived from Early Modern works and, to a lesser extent, eighteenth and nineteenth century poetry. Students of poetic accounts of love are these days more likely to encounter “courtly love” themes in Geoffrey Chaucer, or the sonnets of Shakespeare, than contemporary romantic love poetry.

Read the rest.

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