Today again I’d like to present two very different videopoems made with the same text—and even the same reading. This time the poem comes from The Poetry Storehouse, and is the work of the Missouri-based poet and editor Laura M Kaminski. The voiceover in both is by Nic Sebastian, who is also the maker of the first video remix (her preferred term). Nic sourced her music from David Mackey on SoundCloud.
Australian artist Marie Craven puts the “kinesis” back in “kinestatic” here. I didn’t even notice that the film was made entirely of still images the first time I watched it; the uptempo music by anunusualleopard probably had something to do with that. Click through to Vimeo for the full list of credits and links.
Read the just-published interview with Laura M Kaminski at Moving Poems Magazine to learn why Nic’s film brought her to tears, and how a friend who doesn’t usually read poetry reacted to Marie’s film.
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.
This was the winner of Goethe Institute Film Prize at the 2014 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, where the animator, Kristian Pedersen, also had an exhibition and gave a talk, which I attended. One thing I learned that really impressed me is that the producer of Pedersen’s wonderful series of abstract animations, Gasspedal, does not view them as trailers or promotional tools for its chapbooks but as important publications in their own right — hence the creation of a separate division, Gasspedal Animert. A very forward-thinking publisher!
The poet and reader is Øyvind Rimbereid, who was also in attendance at ZEBRA and gave a reading of this and several other poems from a cycle of poems about the organ, accompanied by the Babylon Theater’s old silent-movie organ. In the video, Nils Henrik Asheim plays on an old pump organ with live electronic effects.
Written for the opening of the Stavanger Concert hall and its custom built organ, The Pipes is an ode to industrial history – the former backbone of the city’s economic and social life.
One of Norway’s most celebrated poets, Øyvind Rimbereid (b. 1966) made his debut in 1993 with the short story collection Det har begynt (It has begun). His poetry collections Herbarium (2008) and Jimmen (2011) both earned nominations for the Nordic Council prize for literature. Rimbereid is the only Norwegian poet to be awarded the Critics’ Prize twice, for Solaris korrigert (2004) and Orgelsjøen (2013).
Another one of my personal favorites from the 2014 ZEBRA competition screenings, this poetry film was directed, filmed and animated by Maria Björklund. All the photography was done in a park in Helsinki named for a poet who used to live nearby, Katri Vala (1901-1944), and excerpts from several of her poems are included in the soundtrack. “The filming took place once a week through the year” (2009), according to the credits. Here’s the description at Vimeo:
A film by Maria Björklund (2012)
Script: Maria Björklund, Antti Mäki, Maria Palavamäki
Editing: Maria Palavamäki
Sound design and music: Antti Mäki
The infamous Katri Vala Park in Sörnäinen, Helsinki is a meeting place for urban nature and poetry in this experimental animated documentary.
The film was produced by Animaatiokopla.
The poetry was translated by Annira Silver and read by Kimberli Mäkäräinen. There’s also a version of the film in Finnish.
A filmpoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) incorporating 11 poems by 11 different Belgian writers, telling a single story of life, lust, love and loss. The poems range in style from experimental to formal verse, all ably translated by Willem Groenewegen. I had the pleasure of seeing this at ZEBRA with an introduction by the filmmaker, having first viewed it online more than a year ago when Marc briefly made it public. It’s now been fully released to the web after nearly two years of festival screenings.
I don’t know if there is ever an ideal day of the week to post a 20-minute poetry video, but website visitor stats do suggest that Monday is a big day for procrastination on the job. So grab a beverage, put on your headphones and hit the play button. What better way to ease into the week than with a surreal poetry film to alter your consciousness?
Here are the poems that make up the film:
The poems were recorded by three well-known Flemish actors: Vic De Wachter (poems 1, 6, 7, 8), Michaël Pas (poems 2, 4, 10, 11) and Karlijn Sileghem (poems 3, 5, 9). The actors are Katrijn Clemer, Mathieu Courtois, and Rommel the cat. (“Rommel” means “clutter” in Dutch; it has nothing to do with the Nazi general.) The music is by Hanklebury, Lunova Labs, and Swoon. Click through to Vimeo for the rest of the credits, not to mention the extensive list of screenings.
Egyptian student-filmmaker Nissmah Rosdhy’s animation of a section of a Mahmoud Darwish poem of the same title is the winner of the 2014 ZEBRA Prize for the Best Poetry Film. (Though the jury members announced from the stage that they regarded all four of the films they picked for prizes this year as equal winners, the prize sponsored by Literaturwerkstatt Berlin itself was still treated as the first among equals. And having watched all 29 competition films, I wouldn’t argue with that.)
Erica Goss and I met with Nissmah Roshy the day after the awards ceremony and recorded a twenty-minute interview with her — go watch. The important thing to mention here is that the live recitation with music by the band Le Trio Joubran sparked the film; it’s much more than just a soundtrack. Combine that with a killer animation of Arabic typography and rotoscoped dance moves by the animator herself, and you’ve got an innovative, probably ground-breaking work. Congrats to Roshdy and a tip of the hat to the jury for their inspired selections. (Look for more of those here in the coming days, interspersed with other films from the festival.)
One thing that poetry-film can really do well is make experimental or avant-garde poems seem more approachable, even entertaining, to a mainstream audience. That’s what Austrian filmmaker Hubert Sielecki and poet Gerhard Rühm have managed to do here, employing what can only be called a choral arrangement of readers—all versions of the same person—in 4/4 meter to defamiliarize and poeticize a found text taken from a newspaper report. For someone with no German like me, the result is a pure sound poem. I was in the audience last Saturday for the main screening of this film at ZEBRA, where it was one of the 29 competition films, and the response was very warm indeed. And that’s not a surprise: this is an immensely entertaining film. Had there been a true “people’s choice” award voted on by everyone who attended the competition screenings, I suspect this would’ve won. (I see that the American animator Cheryl Gross, who also had a film in the competition, has also singled this out as one of her favorites.)
An English translation appears at the beginning of the video, but it’s also included in the YouTube description, so let me just paste it in here:
THE LONGEST KISS
The longest kiss in the world continued for 30 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds.
Clara and Hannes who kissed each other for the first time on November 21, 1986 are determined to break this world record on Valentine`s Day, February 4.
The world record attempt will be organised by the Association of Pharmacists.
The pharmacists want to promote superior oral hygiene.
They refer to the fact that during a normal kiss 40 000 parasites are transmitted, besides nine milligrams of water, some fat, proteins, salt and also 250 species of bacteria.
The Association of Pharmacists chose Clara and Hannes because at the age of respectively 38 and 41 years they would be experienced.
During the world record attempt they are neither allowed to lie down nor sit and may not visit the toilet.