Back in blighty after a brilliant weekend in Berlin at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival. I was there to represent Shining Tor’s short poem film, ‘Not Talking’, based on the poem by Chris Woods.
It seems like an age since Adele Myers approached me to come along to her group, Bokeh Yeah, and join in their poetry film challenge. Even though I agreed, I was initially quite dismissive of poetry films as they didn’t appear to worry about the things I worried about with narrative short films. Things like continuity, dialogue, plot, character, etc. They could shoot any abstract images they wanted and juxtapose them in any way that took their fancy under the general heading of ‘artistic interpretation’. It all seemed a bit too easy to me – or at least, that’s what I thought.
Anyway, I’d said I’d do it so I chose a poem that I liked and came up with a concept that gave me a chance to reference my beloved spaghetti westerns and away we went. I won’t go into more detail about the film, just watch it for yourselves, except to say, that I’m quite happy with it.
My film was one of nine (I think?) that were finally made under the Bokeh Yeah banner and Adele submitted them all to the Zebra Poetry Film Festival. Three were chosen to be exhibited and I was lucky enough to be one of them, which is how I came to be in Berlin last week.
The festival itself was held at the Babylon Kino not far from the centre of Berlin (if Berlin has a centre?) and was attended by filmmakers and poets from all around the world. The programme was split into various themes, with our films together under the heading of Liebe, Leben, Krise (Love, Life, Crisis). There was also the competition shows, where the films selected to compete for the big prizes were exhibited and a special focus on Norwegian poetry films, too much to see in fact so I decided to see our group as well as trying to catch the competition films, as they would surely be the best of the best.
Adele seemed to know everyone so I was never left feeling isolated or alone (even if I wanted to) and we were all quickly bonding, swapping notes and cards, and ultimately heading off to find a bar somewhere that might still be serving food.
I don’t think festivals like these are a stepping stone to success for any aspiring filmmakers but it was great to meet like-minded people, watch a lot of great films, visit a great city and have a good time doing it, so I’m grateful for the opportunity.
As for poetry films in general, I have developed an increased respect for them. The things I saw as lacking are actually great freedoms that like any artistic enterprise are there to be utilised. It’s what you do with them that counts. So, look out for more poetry films coming from Shining Tor in the future.