At the beginning of May Cinema, a new anthology about the history of cinema, was released by the publisher Elif. Gathering a wide range of texts, authors like José Oliver or Ulrike Almut Sandig express their fascination for cinema in a captivating way. The Poetry film Magazine’s new edition wants to address this matter, just in reverse: we would like to dig deeper into the fascination for poetry, addressing the filmmakers’ and directors’ point of view. This direction of looking at the relation between poetry and film seems to have gained significance lately.
We would be neglecting the influence that poetry had on the development of the visual language of filmmaking if we reduced poetry film to a mere translation of a poem into a video. Since the beginning of the 20th century, filmmakers took inspiration from poets and poems, using them as an inspiration, guideline or challenge for creating moving image work.
This “Cinema of Poetry” – the title refers to an influential yet critical text from 1965 by Pier Paolo Pasolini – ranges from independent experimental film to commercially successful authors’ cinema productions, from Stan Brakhage to Jim Jarmusch.
In the endeavour to investigate film making and the film language from the perspective of poetry, directors as well as theoreticians pointed out the differences between the two art forms: the poeticity of written poetry does not in itself make the poetry film poetic. The latter gains its poetic value not only through the simple fact that a poem is part of it or that it refers to or illustrates a poem.
Poetry films can acquire poetic texts by referring strictly to the poem they are working with or far from it. Films that work close to the poem reach their limits once the visual illustration of it seems to double its meaning, making the visuals seem redundant. Films that are inspired by poems lose touch when the reference to the text is too vague or completely absent, and the filmmaker’s final aim seems sole to be aimed at creating a poetic visual language.
Our current edition can be understood as a plea to direct our attention to those films inspired by poetry which do not declare a 1:1 translation from the written text to the moving image as their goal. The poetry film is on a quest for its poeticity. The poetic author’s cinema should be seen as a guide in this field.
CALL FOR ESSAYS
For our next magazine’s edition, we are looking for contributions that might ask: Which impact do the language of film and author’s cinema aesthetics have on the poetry film? Which elements or strategies of using visual language can be adapted to the recitation of a poem? What is the relation between filmic and poetic poeticity? In this regard, are there specific differences between live-action and animated films to be found? When does the poetry film reach an original, independent form of poeticity and when is it just a sum of different poeticities? We also encourage studies that examine the importance of written poetry for parts of film history or a particular filmmaker/director and describe the complex transformation process(es) which happen while acquiring a poem in conjunction with moving image-making.
We cordially invite any contributions in written form (10.000 characters long, including blanks, avoiding footnotes wherever possible) until Oct 31st.
We are very much looking forward to exciting and inspiring submissions!
Aline Helmcke, Guido Naschert