Just wrapped up and sent in my list for the ‘top ten video’ series running at Moving Poems Magazine. You can see lists from all the participants so far at this link. Really interesting and enjoyable reading and a great idea from Dave Bonta. (Update: My top ten list is posted.)
What I’m posting here are a few additional poetry videos I love that either fell victim to the ‘ten only’ video limit, or don’t meet the criteria for the Moving Poems lists, which stipulate that “each poetry film or videopoem should include a poem (or poems) in some recognizable way, either as text, voiceover, or some combination of the two.”
So, in no particular order:
Hawaiian Tree Bones (Gary Yost, 3 min 7 sec)
I don’t usually have much time for time lapse films any more, but this piece is heart-piercingly beautiful to me for many reasons, including the contrast of the static beauty of the dead trees against the swift dynamism of the clouds, and the haunting chant soundtrack. The walking spirit at the end was a master stroke, I thought. The chant is Ku’u wahine i ka ua ‘Ulalena by Charles Albert Manu’alkohanaiki’illili Boyd, translation included at the video’s Vimeo site. Film-maker’s process notes here.
(Damien Krisl, 1 min 15 secs)
We in the poetry world tend to turn our noses up at what happens in the world of advertising, which is probably unfortunate, given the very high level of both talent and resources that go into creative projects in the name of commerce. I try to inoculate myself against the commercial buy-buy-buy virus (eg by watching and reading things like this) and remind myself that the accusation ‘commerce is exploiting art for its own purposes’ can just as easily be formulated the other way around: ‘art is exploiting commerce for its own purposes’. And I find there is a lot to admire. The website Cinematic Poems curates many types of short creative films, for example, including videopoems, film trailers and commercials for cars, jewelry, fashion etc. I found this intriguing fashion film short by Damien Krisl there:
(Arev Manoukian, 4 min, 41 secs)
At almost 5 minutes in length, this film is longer than my usual film poem attention span (under two minutes preferred, three minutes is approaching a stretch), but I had to include it. It starts out on a rather hokey and clichéd romantic note, then goes on to make what I see as gentle fun of the overall clichéd trope, with stunning visual effects. I think it speaks so loudly to me because in my youth I had just such a moment of staring at some strange guy in a public place. I felt all kinds of primal urge to jump on him and knew he had the same urge to jump on me. Unfortunately (or fortunately..), he was with his wife and two kids and the moment had to pass unacted upon. I still think of it a few times a year, recalling the strength of those feelings with immediate freshness every time, and wondering how or if my life would have been different had I acted on them.
(Fox Searchlight, 2 min 52 secs)
I haven’t seen the movie Stoker and honestly don’t want to (not my kind of movie at all). But this wonderful trailer video, anchored around the artists’ creation of the film’s teaser poster, strikes me as a poem in itself. Marvelous visuals, spellbinding drawing sequences, and an unsettling soundtrack by Emily Wells combine to tell an intriguing story and raise pretty hair-raising questions at the same time.
Feather to Fire (Gregory Colbert, 19 min 16 sec)
Not included in my top ten videos for Moving Poems Magazine because at 19 minutes, it really is too long by my own video poem preferences (less than two minutes ideal, three minutes becoming a stretch), and also because it has only a very minimal reliance on words. But really, this is the most mesmerizingly beautiful filming and image juxtapositioning I’ve seen in a long time. It’s part of a larger project by Colbert called Ashes and Snow. Visit his website to see more films from the project (the elephant one is out of this world).
See also this recent post for a couple of favorite poetry videos that didn’t quite make my top ten list.