Säv, säv, susa / Sigh, Rushes, Sigh by Gustaf Fröding

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A haunting Swedish poem brought to life by the German director Patrick Müller. Here’s the English portion of his Vimeo description:

SIGH, RUSHES, SIGH: In his tale of passionate love and heartbreaking grief, Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding (1860–1911) explains the drowning of the beautiful Ingalill. The words find its counterpart in black and white images, shot with an old 16mm film camera.

Film by Patrick Müller. Germany, 2018, 3 Min, 16mm.
Poem: Gustaf Fröding, Narrator: Klaus-Rüdiger Utschick, Camera: Krasnogorsk 3, Film stock: Fomapan R100, Processing: Andec Filmtechnik, Telecine 4K: Ochoypico, Madrid. Filmed at Rügen, 2018.

There was a lively discussion on the Poetry Film Live Facebook group the other day about whether and when it’s appropriate to use illustration in a poetry film. I think this film strikes the perfect balance between illustration (it wouldn’t have made sense not to begin and end with rushes on a lake shore) and suggestion (the girl’s drowning is only briefly hinted at in the visuals). The film with its black-and-white, 16mm graininess not only conveys but intensifies the melancholy mood of the text. Such illustration as it includes doesn’t tame or trivialize the poem but contributes to an over-all ostranenie.

America by Gertrude Stein

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A brilliant remix by Miss Muffet AKA Lisa Seidenberg. The Vimeo description:

A poetry film re-invents a stylised text by author Gertrude Stein as a reflection on the current national zeitgeist using visuals from Charlottesville and other assorted Americana.

Light Ghazal by Matt Hetherington

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Some gorgeous new work from Australian poetry-film collaborators Marie Craven (video concept, edit, effects) and Matt Hetherington (poem and voice), with music by Masonik and film sourced from Mono No Aware. Marie’s process notes (with links added):

‘Light Ghazal’ is the third video collaboration with poet, Matt Hetherington. From across the world, Dave Bonta put us in email contact for the first of these, ‘Orphanage‘. Since then Matt, who lives not far from me here in Australia, has been coming up this way to meet and collaborate in person. This process resulted in the second piece, ‘Everything sleeps but the night‘, and now this latest. It’s kind of radical for me to collaborate in the flesh these days, as most of my collaborations for the past decade, video and music alike, have been net-based. I welcome this recent development. For the soundtrack I selected ‘Inna Sky’ from the ‘Sutol’ album by Fremantle-based Masonik, whose sounds I have also worked with before in my poetry videos. The source footage for the image track is from Mono No Aware in New York, whose films are available on Creative Commons licence at Vimeo. I selected the sections of footage most fitting for this new video and created two layers on top of each other. This was so I could add dimensionality and fx to bring out the hand-processed film textures, as well as bring into sharper presence the ghostly, underlying images on the original film. I love hand-processed film. It seems to emphasise the direct chemical expression of light hitting celluloid and focus us on the materiality of that process. Thus the footage seemed especially relevant to the poem here, which is all about light.

جَمر الزّيتون / The Stone of The Olive by Saurav Dutt

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A poem by British Bengali author Saurav Dutt animated by Egyptian filmmaker Nissmah Roshdy, whose film The Dice Player took top honors at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2014. The Stone of The Olive was screened at ZEBRA 2106; here’s the description from a YouTube upload of the trailer:

A young man’s soul struggles to stay attached to his homeland after the destruction of war and occupation takes over his country. As he faces violence, the only thing that ties his soul to the land is the olive tree. The film visualizes the poem “The Stone of The Olive” by british author Saurav Dutt and adopts a fantasy-like portrayal of the struggle of Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Taji recites the poem, and the music is by Aaron Mist. The translation in subtitles is credited to World Translation Center.

Meditations of an Old Woman (excerpt) by Theodore Roethke

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This is Lost Acres, part of director/composer Jennifer Stock’s Poetry Illumination Project. Though it contains just two lines from Roethke’s long poem “Meditations of an Old Woman”, it does manage to convey something of the poem’s aesthetic and mood. The description reads:

An illumination of lines from Theodore Roethke, centered around abstracted nightscapes. Original music comprised of processed piano sounds.

What is the Word by Samuel Beckett

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This is Qué Palabra, directed by Eduardo Yagüe: a Spanish-language interpretation of Samuel Beckett’s poem “What is the Word” with the original text in subtitles. Jenaro Talens is the translator, and Sergio Cabello the actor. It’s been screened at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival 2018 (Athens) and Festival Silêncio 2017 (Lisbon). I think it’s fair to say that it is very, very Beckettesque. Also, the closing shot is brilliant.

On the Other Side by Natalie H. Rogers

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A multi-voiced poetry film by writer and filmmaker Tova Beck-Friedman. From its webpage:

ON THE OTHER SIDE is a portrait of an aging woman as her “youngness” slips away. Based on a poem by Natalie H. Rogers, the film interweaves voice, animation and music to lay bare the essence of a woman’s vanishing youth; her aging process is irrevocable revealing a deeply fragile and touching reality.

The three narrators are Avis Boone, Duvall O’Steen, and Natalie H. Rogers. Their repetition of lines wouldn’t work for every poetry film, but it’s a good fit for this poem’s disbelieving, incredulous tone.