Thai poet Rossanee Nurfarida recites her poem about the plight of Rohingya refugees in a video by German-American filmmaker Ryan Anderson for the OXLAEY multimedia project. Anderson’s English translation appears as text on screen.
LOST IN HOMELAND is a video poem read by the author Ms. Rossanee Nurfarida while stranded on a boat perched at the top of a four-story, urban house. Ms. Nurfarida’s current collection of poetry, Far Away From Our Own Homes, is a Finalist for the 2016 South East Asian Writers Award. Lost in Homeland was written in 2015 during the Rohingya refugee crisis when thousands of stateless Rohingya from Myanmar set out on old fishing boats seeking a better future. The video’s visual references to Islam extend the poem’s metaphor, commenting on southern Thailand’s Muslim minority as a people stranded in the country of their birth.
Mikaela Välipakka directed this marvelous videopoem with cinematography and editing by Arttu Soilumo. The poem by Tuija Välipakka is from her 2014 collection Take Away (Paasilinna Publishing). Tuija and and her daughter Mikaela have co-authored a post at Atticus Review, where they describe the film as “the result of cooperation between two movie enthusiasts and a poet.”
Mikaela Välipakka and Arttu Soilumo wanted to create a poem film that is simultaneously dark and surrealistic, surprising and thought-provoking. The starting point was Mikaela’s vision of an empty movie theatre with a man sitting on the middle of the row. Man’s dreams start to stray around him, first slowly and eventually aggressively, trying to wake him up. The poem itself explores the absurdity and randomness of death.
The post continues with a quote from Mikaela Välipakka about her approach to filmmaking:
I start with a certain feeling and after that, scenes start to form in my head. I write them down and shoot these scenes one by one. I usually don’t make storyboards or any other plans, I go by intuition. On the set I get inspired by my model and model gets inspired by me. This creates something magical that can not be planned. Music is also really important to me. I love listening to classical music such as Mozart, Verdi and Gorécki. I put on headphones, close my eyes and my imagination starts to immediately fly. This is something I have been doing since I was a little girl, creating surrealistic and beautiful scenes in my head that I later implement them into ink drawings and short films.
We buy longing, our faces
aggressive and breakable
on the cusp of winter.
The perfect poetry film for the holiday season. This is the final part of the 12 Moons series, the year-long videopoetry collaboration between Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon (concept, camera and direction), Erica Goss (poetry), Kathy McTavish (music), and Nic S. (voice), presented by Atticus Review. Marc wrote:
As with the other 11, Kathy provided me with a great soundtrack. Moody and floating on ‘loneliness’. Perfect for Nic’s reading and the poem itself.
Reading and hearing the poem gave me the idea of using images of people shopping for the holidays. I filmed these for another project (Day is done), but this was a perfect match.
It’s like Erica said after viewing the video: “In “Cold Moon,” the young woman’s expression captures the essence of the poem: that holiday shopping is a poor excuse for spirituality, and that faith is still an unexplained phenomenon.”
So this was the last of the series. All of these were made over more than a year ago, but I still have great memories working on these. My gratitude also goes out to Atticus Review and Moving Poems for giving those videos an extra home.
Showing these 12 at Zebra Festival in Berlin this year was a highlight, but collaborating with those three was the best reward.