Light Up Poole Digital Light Art Festival


digital light art festival
th– 17th February 2018

Judges’ comments and the final ten selected

Congratulations to everyone who entered – there were 77 films submitted with Lucy and I selecting ten from twenty shortlisted. We chose completely independently of each other and both had the same top three films. We’d like to thank Matt West from artfulscribe and Light Up Poole for the opportunity to take part, and the chance to see all the hard work achieved by so many talented people.

We made our decisions based firstly on: relevance to theme, followed by inventiveness or poetic lyrical evocation; and quality and treatment / editing of poem, image, voice and sound in relation to theme. It was difficult to separate the final ten but we also made our decision based on having a cross-section of films where two weren’t too similar in genre and approach.


Celia Parra, Kneading Language

 Beautiful and evocative both in terms of the visuals and the poem.

Sarah: The quiet directness and closeness of the camera allows us to feel an emotional bonding within the fragility of family life, through the simple act of baking. We are in the room, welcomed by the respectful, loving, confidentiality of the voice into the poet’s private world, and also one with all families since the beginning of time.

The poetry is there to record this moment, clear and unsentimental – ‘we are knitting and unknitting a language that protects us from the cold’ – means both winter but also the cold of not belonging to each other; in other words, we immediately feel the deep value to the poet of traditional family rituals such as this.

It is accomplished as a film in that it has been edited with exactly the right amount of pace for the observer: from fire to face to dough; and it feels totally complete in itself, which is rare. Finally, the sadness of the dedication at the end also serves to underpin the importance of validating through poetry film the people and moments that really signify in life.

Second Place

Francesca Gironi, October Fourth

: I liked the inclusion of dance and music here.

Sarah: The problem of self-identity. Numerous ‘selves’ all dressed the same in a covered corridor, dancing, walking, leaning, layer over each other. As the protagonist multiplies so we are privy to the poet’s disenchantment with herself, in an ironic conversational prose confession: ‘and I wish I hadn’t met me at night while sleeping’…

What is achieved is not a sense of fantasy or dream. The flickering effect of old film, and the repetitive dulled ‘stuck needle’ in the very subtle soundscape with occasional strains of music in the background, suggests that we are witnessing a loop in the poet’s mind. Even though this is ironic, it is very effective on several levels; the camera (and the viewer) are the mind’s eye of the self, watching layered versions of the self, and the flickering and ‘stuck needle’ create a sense of past and present at the same time, a form of eternal nightmare emphasized by the corridor.

However, in contrast, for the viewer there is also a joy in watching all the different selves appear, going about different movements, in a sort of weightless, butterfly effect. The whole is like a highly-choreographed performance that has been generated by the poet’s ironic sense of self-image, but yet eternally trapped in itself. Ultimately, the enigmatic quality of this film created through restrained, tenuous visual effects and sounds, delivers what feels like ‘momentary thoughts’ made visible. A highly-refined articulation of ‘a voice inside our heads’ that also refuses to be too serious. Quite a difficult achievement to make work in a poetry film.


Third Place

A Beanquest Production, Human

 I liked the ‘hand-made’ quality of this one.

Sarah: This genuine, direct and from the heart film shows how society ‘puts gender in a box’. Almost the first shot tells you everything you need to know – a girl faces a mirror in a dress (female we conventionally read) and sees her reflection in braces and a bow tie (male we conventionally read). Through direct statements to camera, holding up flash cards ‘I am straight’, ‘I am bi-sexual’ the message is – you define yourself, no one else should do this for you. Through a positive narrative it affirms individuality, love and that aren’t we all just ultimately human. The filming echoed the content; sometimes speeded up, sometimes straight to camera, the camera language was as informal as the narrator’s voice, and felt wholly ‘caught in the moment’ – real life with real feelings.

Joint Fourth

Ace Media, The Noble Amateur

 Post-Brexit, moody and clearly delivered. I liked the derelict urban landscapes.

Sarah: This is a wholly authentic voice from what feels like a lost generation. An overarching sense of dystopia, of a society bled dry by corporate and political greed – this poem comes from that place. The visuals speak with the poem and for it; a document – saying – just look around you.


Jane Glennie, Julia Bird Blue Flash Flash

Blue Flash Flash – Jane Glennie – 2017 from Jane Glennie on Vimeo.

 Innovative and funny. A quick-fire narrative about someone who is new to bathing a toddler and the resulting dialogue. Here we don’t need to see a toddler but just experience the sensation of attempting to hold a wet, slippery one, with speeded up bubbles, flashes of octopus’ tentacles, splashing sounds and a back and forth about saying the word ‘Octopus’ with accompanying flashing word.

The selection of a male narrator, with a slightly arch, almost formal yet highly expressive voice was a superb choice and gives this very funny slice-of-life poem a real bite. The way that the visuals are rendered with a frenetic, chaotic quality – echoing the tension of the situation – and the metaphor of an octopus with many slippery limbs, doubles this feeling. For anyone who has been in this position (or not) a joy to watch and rewind over and over.



In No Particular Order


Meriel Lland: Kin

 This sublime film took my breath away as a poetic documentation of a natural phenomena that is truly life-affirming. I felt that the naturalism of the sound was refreshing, and the majesty of a murmur of starlings, shape-shifting in the sky took over (was allowed to) and created a very visual poetry film. The voice finds a way to become part of the event, rather than be in addition to it.


K A Sweeney, A Scientists advice on healing

 Carefully crafted poem. Classy visuals.

Sarah: Through animated, drawn hands against what appears to be magnified cells or bacteria, we focus on how the body has its own language that is prone to failure and its own truth. ‘This isn’t Hollywood, it’s you’ bodies forth poetic truisms in short statements that work well with the visual text. The audio-visual editing is highly developed: the poem works well with the niggling soundscape: knocking sounds that give a visceral sense of pain; driving us through this, like illness to get to the end, to get well.


Dan Douglas, Paul Summers, Bun Stop

 Gritty and beautiful. Great poem and effective urban landscapes.

Sarah: What I particularly like is the way that the filmmaker’s eye captures black and white, almost two-dimensional, fixed-frame shots of urban situations, which offer balanced graphic elements with minimal movement. Each fixed frame leads on to the next in a controlled manner, and we are given time to absorb the contents. The visuals marry with a voice that sounds as if it has seen it all, and the words are powerful and taut: ‘the fragile dialectic of gravity and mass’ as we see a fast-food container close-up, balanced on some cigarette butts. Halfway through a bit more life happens – a man walking away with a dog following: it feels powerfully magnified, breaking the restraint of the previous frames. There is a sense of a world that is running away from us, but through the lens becomes captured, and in doing so interjects the human eye.


Sally Fryer, Jupiter

 Good animation and good poem

Sarah: The veracity of the voice in this film is undeniable. The seemingly mundane everydayness of the underlying concept of the theme creates a pathos that is echoed by the tone of the voice and set against sensitive and well-drawn animation. The lack of a background soundscape emphasizes how life feels on hold. The postman missing the house, the waiting for the phone to ring whilst mice eat the phonebook … and the same mould in the same damp corner … from one perspective life hangs about us and gathers dust as we helplessly watch.


Diana Taylor, Only Bound by my imagination

 Elegiac and mournful.

Sarah: This film has an evocative use of coloration, shapes and textures, with a brevity of text as a series of philosophical observations. The classical violin piece in a minor key set against urban street scenes, at times with coloration, creates a sense of passing through, but occasionally a glimmer that something will happen if you recognize it: ‘the infinite untouched Eden’. The pace of the editing, and the cuts between scenes or shots in this film are a real joy, and make total sense – the final shot of two people walking in the distance really does complete the film.


Marcia Pelletiere, Peg Alford Pursell
The Map She is Trying to Follow

 The narrative speaks about the paintings that ‘she’, the narrator, is making which populate the film – everything becomes patterned by the wild shapes in the painting as an abstract layering of editing. The complexity of the patterning adds weight to the narrator’s difficulty of trying to make her way through life.



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